Companies share their brand purpose in all sorts of different ways. The products they sell. The messages they send. Any brand interaction is driven, on some level, by that brand’s underlying purpose.
The problem is that some brands don’t even have a defined purpose.
It sounds like a small problem on paper, but it leads to all sorts of difficulties down the road.
Why Do You Need a Clear Brand Purpose?
A brand purpose ensures that all of your strategic goals, marketing initiatives, and customer outreach keep your company on the right track. Without a clear purpose, it’s like you’re out at sea without a map.
Companies may produce messaging or products that are misaligned with what customers expect, causing the companies to invest heavily in promotions that will never generate a decent ROI. But the problem runs even deeper. Without a unifying sense of brand purpose, how would you even know what customers expect from you?
After all, a brand’s purpose, even more than its products, is often how consumers choose one brand over another:
- Chipotle’s burritos aren’t all that different from Qdoba’s
- TED Talks aren’t really more special than free lectures on YouTube
- Burt’s Bees isn’t the only beeswax game in town
Nevertheless, each company’s brand purpose keeps us walking through the door:
- Chipotle’s commitment to local growers and sustainability is legendary
- TED has become a household name in non-profit education
- Burt’s Bees is synonymous with low-waste, social, and environmental dedication
Particularly for the Millennial demographic, this type of outwardly-focused purpose can be huge for engagement and loyalty. Research by Omnicron Group shows that 70% of Millennial shoppers will spend more on brands that support the causes they care about.
In this way, defining your brand purpose is a two-way street of value: Customers know what values drive your brand, and you know what types of messaging are most likely to resonate with them.
Finding Your Brand Purpose
In most cases, you won’t develop an entirely new brand purpose from scratch (entrepreneurs aside). If you’re working at a company that already has some traction, you likely have some idea of what the brand’s purpose is. If not, you should review past brand assets, archived materials, ideas, and visions set forth by your company’s founders as a starting point.
What most companies struggle with isn’t coming up with ideas for their purpose; it’s knowing how to define it in a concrete way and leverage it consistently across the company’s outreach. And it’s crucial to make the purpose known to your market, whatever it may be.
In a 2018 brand purpose study, 77% of consumers felt a stronger connection to purpose-driven companies than they did for others, and 66% would switch from a product they typically buy to a new product from a purpose-driven company.
To help narrow your brand purpose down to something concrete, start by asking yourself these questions:
- Why was the business begun in the first place?
- What impact does your business have on the world?
- What values does your target market have and share with your brand?
- What key unique attributes does your company provide in the market?
- What would you like to be known for, overall?
These foundational questions provide insight into your company’s origin, ongoing goals, and future prospects. Backed by these answers, you’ll have some idea of what your brand stands for. The next steps involve tying it into something larger than yourself and making sure it rings true to your audience.
The Social Element
You’ll note that many companies with time-tested and value-driving brand purposes tie their company’s success to societal success in some way. This isn’t an accident. Companies realized long ago that it wasn’t enough that they were successful; they had to make an attempt to make the world a better place while they were at it. And in our modern era, this idea is more true than ever before.
In the above 2018 study, 78% of Americans believed companies must do more than just make money and must positively impact society as well, and 89% believed that brand purpose was demonstrated by how a company benefits society.
Thus, you’ll want to consider the positives of your company and what type of benefits you bring to the table. Do you prioritize any of the following goals?
- Packaging recyclability
- Supporting local suppliers
- Environmental conservation
- Charitable donations
The sky is the limit here. Find a way to share the positive aspects of your company that go beyond profits, and you’ll have a much easier time connecting with audiences.
Authenticity Is Key
It’s noble to support social issues with your messaging and products, but it needs to be authentic and aligned with your existing brand purpose. Otherwise, you run the risk of coming across as disingenuous, or even worse, opportunistic—exploiting social momentum to make a buck before moving onto the next hot-button issue.
This is why it’s important to define your purpose ahead of time. Modern customers are getting better at telling when brands are not genuine, but if your lofty words are backed by a history of societal support, nobody will give it a second thought.
Finding a Purpose That’s Uniquely You
Your overall goal is to establish a clear, consistent brand purpose that keeps your strategic goals aligned with your marketing. You want to develop a set of personal values to guide decisions, reach consumers, and eliminate any disconnects in the messages your brand pushes and what your brand actually stands for.
It’s not always the easiest goal to achieve—which is why SmashBrand offers brand development services to growing businesses. We’ll leverage our years of branding expertise to help you answer the above questions and develop a brand purpose that’s clear, authentic, and valuable to your market. Contact us here for more info about our branding services.