The best brand purpose is the one you never have to tell the consumer. It should be focused internally to steer the culture of those who work behind the scenes of the brand. Front line workers should project the purpose. Your brand purpose should ooze out into the experience it creates for consumers. When your brand purpose connects with consumers, you will see the power of brand.
Finding your brand purpose answers the big question of “Why does your brand exist?” Most importantly, brand purpose should force you to explore the underlying personal and honest motivation for why you do what you do.
Brand purpose is not an advertising strategy. If you think it’s a label on your packaging that humble brags about a cause you support, then you’re doing it wrong.
You can’t just make up a purpose 70 years after a brand launches, just so you can sell more stuff. If you’ve never once talked about your brand purpose until 2019, your consumer might think you’re just faking it. Don’t mix up defining your brand purpose by attaching to a short-term cause that gets a lot of traction in the market.
Finding your brand purpose
Ikigai (生き甲斐) is a Japanese concept that means “a reason for being.” We have borrowed this model to help find your brand purpose. It is an intersection of what you are good at, what you love, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for.
As a result, I will show how your brand purpose will come to life at the intersection that meets the consumer needs, fulfills your passion, stands behind your values, and yet still builds a successful branded business.
Borrowing the model for branding
Brand purpose can be a powerful way to connect with both employees and consumers, helping define your brand soul. While this Venn diagram (above) looks somewhat crazy at first, trust me, it works as an excellent tool for building your brand’s purpose.
This Venn diagram has four significant factors, which match up:
- How does it fit with what consumers need or want?
- Does it fit the core values of your team
- Does it deliver your passion in loving what you do?
- Can you build a beloved and successful branded business.
Branding with purpose
The how-to model helps find your brand purpose
While the Venn diagram creates the purpose with the intersection of all four circles, you can find your own brand purpose by defining each combination of circles, one at a time, which expresses the four pillars that will deliver your brand purpose.
A. Focus your passion on building a tight emotional bond with your most cherished consumers
To start, the intersection of the consumer needs (1) with loving what you do (2). All the passion you put into your work should focus on becoming a favorite brand of your consumers. You should love what you do and love what it does for your consumers. How your consumers react should drive your inner motivations and the power of brand.
B. Build your branded business around a unique, ownable, and motivating brand idea
Next, the intersection of the consumer needs (1) with building a successful branded business (4). Build a brand idea to organize everything you do to deliver a consistent brand that will move consumers through their customer journey and become a beloved, high-growth, powerful, and profitable branded business. How tight you build a bond should drive your business success.
C. Inspire a values-driven culture to provide happy consumer experiences
Then, find the intersection of living the values of the team (3) with creating a successful branded business (4). Your people are the “difference-makers” in delivering an incredible brand. They create a brand worthy of being loved to drive higher prices, lower costs, enter new markets, and create new uses. Link your people to driving the power of brand and the added profits of you generate.
D. Inspirational work makes it a favorite place to work
Finally, the intersection of loving what you do (2) with the values of the team (3). Your values provide the backbone of your company, a set of beliefs and motivations linked with how people want to work. The values encourage your people to demonstrate their passion and create a culture where your people will never settle for OK when greatness is attainable. Allow them to put their passion into the brand; they can share in the pride of the team when the brand is successful. Tapping into the personal motivation of what’s important to them helps your team go the extra mile.
Brand purpose example
Example of our brand purpose model for Gray’s Cookies
Take the work within the four pillars to build up the brand purpose. The final purpose statement is, “Our purpose is to help people re-discover the lost secret that the most amazing tasting food is made of natural ingredients.”
Treat your brand purpose right
If you love brand purpose, you should treat brand purpose properly, and where it sits within your brand actually matters.
• Purpose is NOT a strategy.
• Purpose is NOT an advertising line.
Purpose answers, “Why does your brand exist?” It is the underlying personal motivation for why you do what you do. Purpose gives your brand a soul. It should sit very high on your brand strategy roadmap, as a guide to the rest of the plan.
Purpose is not a strategy
Don't just make up a purpose for your advertising
Brands are making mistakes when it comes to purpose. You can’t can’t just make an ad and think you are done. If you were a product-driven razor brand for 50 years, like Gillette, it might take another 50 years to transition to a true purpose-driven brand.
This is a fantastic message for our current world we live in. Gillette just hasn’t earned the right to say it.
There are no clues in anything Gillette has ever done with their purpose for us to buy into this message. I believe it to be too sharp of a pivot for it to work for them. Had this have been a different brand, where they truly lived up to it, then it may have been ideal.
Your first audience of your brand purpose should be your employees, not consumers
Internally, the power of brand is driven by values that form the backbone of your organization. They may come from your background, how you grew up, rules you identify with or how you see your priorities in life.
Your beliefs come from your experience, helping explain why and how you choose to do business, how you treat your people, and how you conduct yourself as a leader and as a person in the community. These beliefs should be personal, ethical, or rooted in frustration for how you see things happening in the world.
Your inspirations should excite the team members who work behind the scenes of the brand. Inspirations should stimulate your people to go beyond the norms of effort or passion.
For organizations, I believe it works best when your people have input into creating and building your values. Maybe that is one of my own core values in a bottom-up approach to building brands. However, the closer your values reflect the realities of what your people believe in, the more successful you will be in using those values to inspire greatness. You will realize the power of brand.
Using your brand idea to build a brand credo document
Having spent time at Johnson & Johnson, I was lucky to see how their credo document has become an essential part of the culture of the organization. Not only does it permeate throughout the company, but you will also likely hear it quoted in meetings daily. It is a beautifully written document and ahead of its time.
- First, take your brand idea and turn it into an inspiring promise statement, which explains to your people how they can positively impact your customers.
- Next, use your brand’s core point of difference to outline the expectations of how everyone can support and deliver the point of difference. A great exercise is to get every department to articulate its role in delivering the brand idea.
- Finally, connect with your people by tapping into the personal motivation for what they can do to support your brand purpose, brand values, and core beliefs. Make it very personal and you will realize the power of brand.
Make sure branding with purpose flows through every part of your brand, before you release it to the public
To read about how Patagonia sees purpose and power of brand:
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