Brand purpose is a concept that is sometimes defined in several ways. Sometimes it is the purpose of a brand’s existence, the reason why it operates, or ultimately its driving force, which is expressed in how the brand wants to positively impact the world around us. This last definition is the most accurate because it indicates that brand purpose is a concept that reflects the deeper meaning of a brand’s existence on a level unrelated to the overall goal of making money, which, while important, is not the same as purpose.
Brand purpose is not simply a CSR activity
It is not enough to find a worthy initiative and involve the brand in it, it is not charity or supporting charities. Brand purpose is the answer to the question “why does the brand exist”, what impact would it like to have on the world and on consumers’ lives. It’s about value that is as concrete and practical as possible, and above all positive.
Brand purpose is not poetry
Brand purpose must be clearly defined so that it can be easily understood and translated into strategy and operational activities. It is not a competition in which the most pompous and spiritual phrases win. To this day, the marketing world recalls the case of WeWork, which defined the meaning of its existence as “raising awareness in the world.” Such a nebulous formulation can hardly be considered a precise statement of why a brand exists. Brand purpose is not a space for poetry or clever-sounding sentences. Nor is it an advertising slogan that will fire the imagination of consumers.
Brand purpose motivates
When a brand has a defined purpose both its recipients and employees, by creating and using goods and services, act for causes with a much broader meaning – they act for society, the planet or the whole of mankind. The awareness of participating in such a process is inspiring. It motivates and engages: employees to perform better and act to strengthen the brand, and consumers to develop a stronger and more lasting preference for the brand. It’s not simply producing and consuming – it’s acting for a higher purpose.
Brand purpose is a brand compass
It is a brand’s compass that allows it to maintain consistency and direction, to preserve its nature and values in a changing environment. In the case of doubts whether a given action is consistent with brand identity referring to the purpose allows us to find an answer. It is a code, a guide and, most of all, a device for setting a brand’s course and maintaining it.
Brand purpose is an action, not words
Seth Godin wrote that the real value for an audience is in the purpose, which is transformed from a statement into an action. Without implementation even the most beautiful vision remains dead and misses its purpose because it does not achieve it. There is a well-known example of American pharmacy chain CVS, which after the announcement of the brand purpose based on the desire to improve the health of Americans, stopped selling tobacco products, despite the fact that the annual turnover from this title amounted to $ 2 billion. However, without such an action, the brand could not effectively fulfill the purpose of its existence – to care for the health of the American public. Such consistency between purpose and action is not at all obvious. CVS’s largest competitor – Walgreens – a brand that claimed to act for a similar “just cause” of American health – continues to sell cigarettes.
Brand purpose as a source of growth
Jim Stengel, author of “Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit,” wrote that the way to sustainable growth and profits is to improve people’s lives. This statement clearly indicates that brands that make a positive impact on the world have a greater potential for business growth than those that do not follow this strategy. This is supported by the Kantar Purpose 2020 study showing that the value of brands that are perceived as having a clearly defined purpose grows twice as fast as brands without a clearly defined non-financial purpose for action. Over a 12-year period, brands with a strong positive impact increased in value by 175%, while the value of brands whose positive impact was rated as medium increased by 86%. The same increase for brands with low positive impact was only 70%.
Brand purpose as a strategic imperative
After the traumatic experience of the pandemic that painfully affected millions of people around the world, the importance of brand purpose seems even greater. Brands must work for the greater good, must contribute to improving people’s lives, solve social, climate and economic problems. Humanity expects to be helped and engaged. According to a recent Boston Consulting Group survey – 88% of respondents worldwide expect brands to take steps to improve the environment, and 86% of consumers expect brands to facilitate more responsible and environmentally friendly consumption. At the same time, over 44% recognize that brands are making it harder for them to care about the environment. This shows how much more there is to do. According to the US Business Roundtable, the only possible long-term business strategy is one that ensures a positive impact on the planet and society. Developing and acting on a brand purpose is therefore a strategic imperative for marketers and agencies.
Marketers join forces. When Poland?
Marketers are increasingly taking joint action to solve the world’s most pressing problems. An example of this approach is Planet Pledge. As part of this initiative, companies such as Nestle, Mastercard, Unilever and Diageo have pledged to address climate issues. They will support zero-carbon activities and promote a more responsible and environmentally friendly consumption model and a green lifestyle through education. Marketing professionals have a huge role to play in working towards a “just cause” and the common good. It is to be hoped that a joint initiative of Polish marketers will soon be formed to even more strongly influence positive change in the world.