Everyone thinks their brand is special, one-of-a-kind, but without a brand purpose, your customers don’t see that and connect with it. So, what’s the point?
The good news is, you can create meaningful connections, gain loyal customers, and attract the right staff by starting with one simple thing. One thing that will tell people what you are really all about and create those valuable bonds.
It all comes down to defining and sharing your brand purpose.
Why your brand needs a purpose
Let’s start with defining what a brand purpose is. It’s not what you do, or even how you do it. It’s not your mission statement, and it’s not your vision. The Oxford Dictionary defines purpose as “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.”
Your brand purpose is why you exist beyond the fact that you need to make money. In one of the most watched TED talks of all time, Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why, says:
“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”
A Harvard Business Review report found that:
- 85% of executives say they are more likely to recommend a company with a strong purpose
- 81% agreed that purpose-driven organisations deliver higher-quality products or services
But only 46% believed that their organisation had a strong shared purpose and just 37% said their business operations are well-aligned with their purpose. That’s a pretty big gap between believing in the importance of having a purpose and acting on it. My guess is most of them would make up the 77% of brands that could drop off the face of the earth without being missed.
Identifying your brand purpose will show your customers who you are and what you stand for, going well beyond the product or service you offer. People want to connect with authentic brands instead of being sold to. They want to know that their relationships, even with brands, are in line with their values. Your brand purpose gets to the heart of your organisation, lays it bare for others to see, and builds relationships with your customers.
Your mission and vision are fueled by your purpose. Why you exist forms the basis of the vision you have for the future and drives how you will get there (your mission). Your brand purpose will guide you to making the best decisions for every aspect of your business. From operations to sales and customer experience – they all boil down to your purpose.
Great examples of brand purpose
To illustrate what a brand purpose is, here are some well-known companies and their purpose:
“Unleash the originality in every child.”
You get a real sense of the passion driving the brand with this purpose statement. They don’t say they want to help kids create art. They want to unleash their originality, that special something that each of us has as a child, our unique unfiltered view of the world.
“To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”
Tesla’s purpose is loud and clear – it tells us what their commitment is and why. From their brand purpose you can see they are innovators with a focus on the planet. There’s nothing here about making cars or rockets, which is WHAT they do. This is their WHY.
“To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”
Far from just supplying the local neighbourhood with a variety of coffee drinks, Starbucks built its company by using fair trade suppliers, paying competitive wages, helping staff with higher education costs and giving them access to healthcare, and donating unsold food to food banks. Their ethos is driven by their purpose – to inspire and nurture the human spirit.
“Patagonia is in business to save our home planet.”
Patagonia’s founder, Yvon Chouinard, started the business so people could enjoy exploring wild places and it didn’t take him long to realise the business should also protect those wild places. This statement guides Patagonia’s strategies from giving 1% of sales to environmental causes to the way they hire staff (tip: they read resumes from the bottom up, seeking outdoor-oriented people who care about the earth rather than focusing on experience).
Defining your brand purpose
Now for the question on everyone’s minds: how do you find your brand purpose?
I recently read an article that boiled it down to 7 questions, which I will share with you here.
1 What led you to start your business?
Think back to how you got started. What is the story behind your beginnings?
2 What are your unique strengths?
Your brand is unique. How do you show that?
3 What would you like to be known for?
If someone wrote the best testimonial about your brand, what would it say?
4 What problems are you trying to solve?
Remember, Tesla isn’t trying to make sure everyone has an electric car. They are trying to find the planet’s answer for sustainable energy. What’s the value behind your product?
5 What do you want to change about the world?
Answering this question will help you identify a problem you can help solve. If you could change something for all of your customers, what would it be?
6 What do you want to change about your industry?
Now think specific to your customer’s pain points. Is there a better solution than the current offerings? What would you change if you had a magic wand?
7 What change do your customers want to see?
People want to align themselves with brands that have a purpose that matches what they value. These are your people.
You’ve likely seen a theme emerge in your answers. Maybe some of your answers were the same for different questions. Narrow it down until you are satisfied that you have identified your purpose. Then, put it into clear, concise words like the examples above.
Now you have a brand purpose around which to center your business decisions and strategies.
You’ll draw the right people in – both customers and staff – and build solid, lasting relationships based on shared values and authentic connections.
Your brand purpose stakes your claim to how you are different from every other brand doing what you do.
If you need help clarifying your brand purpose, email Steve (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a free brand audit to dig deep into your brand’s WHY.