Brand purpose should not be confused with a brand promise or a brand’s mission statement.
A company’s mission statement has traditionally always promised things like quality, exceptional service and competitive pricing and revolved around the performance of the business and its employees. There was not a lot to differentiate between most corporate mission statements to be honest.
Brand purpose is a reason for a brand’s existence beyond making a profit.
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
Bestselling author of ‘Start with Why,’ Simon Sinek said this and it perfectly sums up why brand purpose has become so important to the modern consumer.
A brand purpose connects on an emotional level with its consumers and authenticity and congruency are key components to this.
How and why brand purpose has become vital
The digital revolution completely changed the way brands communicate with their customers.
In the 80s and 90s communication was one way. Brands essentially dictated terms and consumers had little say or means to say it.
An unhappy consumer’s voice was small and easy to ignore or talk over.
However, when the digital revolution began, things changed. First in forums and chatrooms and then with the explosion of social media.
Consumers began to voice their opinions and it was not long before they realised the power of numbers.
For consumers growing up in the digital era, Gen Y (millennial) – partially so, and Gen Z being completely exposed to this from the minute they could use a tablet device or smartphone, the right to have a voice and express it online is a given expectation today.
Conscious consumers with a voice have changed the way the market works.
An Earned Brand Study by Edelman in 2017 found that 50% of consumers worldwide consider themselves to be belief driven buyers and 67% bought a brand for the first time because they agreed with its position on a controversial topic.
So a strong brand purpose can set a company apart from its competitors and do good at the same time.
It is certainly not just about the bottom line as the statistics in our three-part blog series on Purpose-led business reveals.
Purpose-based branding vs. Corporate social responsibility (CSR)
Purpose-based business practice is not corporate social responsibility although they are close bedfellows which is why they are often confused.
“This is not corporate social responsibility, it’s not cause marketing, and it’s not a strategy for philanthropy; it’s a business strategy. …once you choose your purpose – everything else should come out of that.” – Jim Stengel, CMO, Procter & Gamble.
Purpose-based branding offers much broader set of possibilities for developing a meaningful brand.
While CSR initiatives often operate alongside a brand’s main directive and operate in a more autonomous manner to earn brownie points for a brand by doing good, purpose-led businesses are all about holistically integrating the brand, its products and its customers into a singular purpose and message.
Corporate social responsibility is good and should be promoted worldwide. More brands should put their power behind environmental issues or get involved with communities.
Brand purpose needs to be related to what the brand is selling or service they provide.
Good brand purpose puts the consumer first and appeals to a key demographic which is what will make your brand relevant to this chosen audience.
If a sports car brand, for example, painted the local community hall for free as a way of donating to a good cause, this is a wonderful gesture but it does not say anything about the actual products the company sells.
Congruency is key to good purpose-led marketing and one of the best examples of this is Dove’s #speakbeautiful movement which encourages women to be kinder to themselves and embrace their natural bodies.
YouTube videos related to Dove’s campaign had over 35 million views because the product and the purpose of the campaign to improve the self-esteem of girls is completely relatable and people needed it.
A CSR commitment is a vital component for any business today, but a brand-purpose strategy is just as important and necessary in today’s business playing field.
- Social Impact: Why Brands should be moving from ‘for profit’ to ‘for benefit’ model
- Purpose-led businesses are gaining relevance says Unilever CEO
- What are socially conscious brands?
- A Socially Conscious Brand business model is the future