What's your point? It's time to get clear on your purpose.
If you follow any branding blogs, you’re likely to have come across a lot more references and discussions around the importance of ‘Brand Purpose’ again. And for good reason. Because right across industries, businesses with purpose at their core, are being seen to outperform ones that don’t. And truly transformational growth is increasingly being traced back to organisations that have found and embraced their purpose.
According to Deloitte, purpose is simply everything. They report how purpose-driven companies are seeing higher market share gains than their competitors. Have three times faster growth. And higher workforce and customer satisfaction. In fact, their research shows that purpose-orientated companies report innovation levels that are 30% higher, and workforce retention that is 40% higher than competitors.
If those stats have made you sit up a little taller in your seat – you wouldn’t be the only one. They are causing a lot of companies to stop and look at the concept again. And how it could work for them. In its simplest terms, your brand purpose, is the reason you exist beyond making money.
Some confuse it with mission and vision, but it is much more high level than that. Marty Neumeier’s The Strategic Pyramid, illustrated below, offers a simple framework for understanding each element and how they work together.
The other caveat is to be careful not to confuse your purpose with your Corporate Social Responsibility objectives. Your charitable giving, how you give back in your communities and how you would like to contribute to the greater good are fantastic, and important. But they are not the same as your brand purpose. That needs to relate to what your organisation and brand actually provides.
Also, while brand purpose may be en vogue again, it is no gimmick. It is fundamental to everything you do. There is no ‘fake it, until you make it’ in this space. It is not a fad or a marketing and sales tool. In fact, for a few years it was almost seen as a dirty word as it became overused and abused by brands. But organisations that try to take a shortcut and just use it as a quick tool to capture more market share, without fully looking at what it means to be a purpose driven organisation – will be quickly shown up.
It requires honesty. Authenticity. And integrity across everything you do. You must embrace your purpose properly and whole heartedly. And you must have an appetite for change – because it will impact on every aspect of your business. Albeit in a positive way.
As Deloitte describe it; “Brand Purpose is much like what a foundation is to a house, a conductor is to an orchestra, and a canvas is to an artist’s masterpiece.”
Why is purpose so important now? What’s changed? Well, consumers have. People used to laugh at the stereotypical teenager, shrugging their shoulders in disinterest. But their ‘so what’ attitude had a point. A different generation of conscious consumers has grown up and emerged as the ones driving growth – Gen Z. These customers make choices that reflect who they are and what they stand for. They no longer buy brands. They join brands. And they want an active role. When they encounter your brand, they will filter your service claims, product features and brand benefits through a lens of ‘so what?’.
As Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why explains: “People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it. And WHAT you do simply proves what you believe.”
But here is the opportunity – here is where you can completely transform your brand. If you understand and communicate your purpose, people who share your vision, will want to share the journey with you too. It will act as a magnet for like-minded people. This magnetic affect is not limited to your customers.
A Harvard Business Review article “Meaning is the new money” found that purposeful organisations attract and harness the best talent and that is also a key driver of these businesses being more successful. The people in your business are one of your most important assets. It is your talent that makes the magic. And a shared purpose, common goal and vision attracts like-minded individuals, who believe in what you do – and creates a shared team identity.
As the benefits of being purpose-led are being quantified more and more – many large organisations and multi-nationals have begun their journeys to try and tap into it. They have been putting huge resources behind uncovering, actioning, living and sharing their purpose.
And this is where SMEs have a distinct advantage. Because, for many, their purposes are often still very close to the surface. They may not be able to articulate clearly what they are – but often the original founders still have a hand in the business. And there is a purpose that is innately steering all business and growth decisions.
A sense of shared values across the team around what is important. What matters. Have you ever used the phrase “I don’t know. It’s just not us”? Then you have a purpose lurking there. You just need to realise how critical it is. What an untapped asset you have hiding in plain sight. And get a bit of help articulating it.