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Why Brand Purpose Matters

A powerful brand purpose sets out a company’s intent to change the world for the better and connects with consumers on a personal level. The rise in conscientious consumers means that you need to think about the social, environmental, ecological and political position of your brand.

Quick page insight

Read time: 7 minutes

  • Brand purpose can be an important factor when choosing a product or service
  •  A really powerful brand message will relate to your product or service
  • Modern consumers want brands to use their power and influence for good
  • 82% of UK consumer activists favour voting with their wallets by buying from companies who ‘do the right thing’
  • Make sure your message is authentic and not following current marketing trends to gain more ROI

Brand purpose is so important to your business, but many people aren’t taking advantage of its benefits because they simply don’t understand what it’s all about. We think it’s super valuable for you to take the time to understand brand purpose and everything that it can do for you. Creating strong brand purpose gives you authority and a greater meaning as well as separating you from your competitors. This is even more important if you are trying to market to Generation Z because they see brand purpose as an important factor when choosing products or services. 

What is brand purpose?

Brand purpose is the reason for the brand to exist beyond making money. If you want a really powerful brand purpose, it needs to relate to the product or service itself. For example, if you’re in the educational sector, your purpose might help children and shape their future. Below illustrates a fictional stationery company and their purpose.

So now we understand about brand purpose, is it the same as brand promise? Not really. A promise gives the customer an indication of what to expect e.g. low priced groceries whereas the brand purpose is the reason the brand exists. The brand purpose and brand promise don’t need to relate as the brand promise is usually more focused on the actual product or service offered.

So, who have matched their brand purpose and core product well? We think Dove are a fantastic example. They have created hugely successful campaigns centred around their brand purpose of positive body image. The message fits perfectly with their personal care product company, making it sustainable and relevant to consumers. Most importantly, it connected with customers on an emotional level with a topic that affected them personally. This means that customers get a ‘feel-good factor’ when they buy Dove’s products. When they're looking at products on a shelf there are differentiating factors that the customer will be looking at such as price and visuals. Brand purpose is another way to get customers reaching for your product rather than your competitors.

There are three main benefits that come from brand purpose:

1. It adds value to the lives of customers and society
2. It sets the brand apart from competitors
3. It provides clarification and strong corporate culture 

A well thought out brand purpose should have the customer in mind at every step. Remember, the end goal is to connect with customers emotionally, making your brand a more desirable selection. It also gives employees a greater meaning and significance to their work leading to better productivity and job satisfaction. 

What do consumers want?

What makes brand purpose so important? Well…people like it! Modern customers aren’t looking for the ‘best value for price’ product available anymore. The market is saturated with different products and services but a brand's purpose sets them apart and builds brand loyalty.

Modern consumers are hugely interested in the beliefs of the brand and their views on topics that are important to them. The 2017 Earned Brand Study by Edelman 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 don’t be scared about speaking out about topics that are are important to you. Remember, you can’t be all things to all people. Your purpose won’t resonate with all of your customers, but it should with your key demographic. Consumers want brands to use their power and influence to do good, whether it’s charity work, helping the environment or creating opportunities for the next generation. Basically, people care that you care. 

The internet has brought a wealth of information and choice into households and people now have a greater awareness of global issues. Now people have that knowledge, the ‘conscious consumer’ has emerged. An individual who considers the social, environmental, ecological, and political impact of their purchases.

 A study from Weber Shandwick and its research partner KRC Research, Battle of the Wallets: the Changing Landscape of Consumer Activism found that 82% of UK consumer activists favour voting with their wallets by buying from companies who ‘do the right thing’. Although, the idea of boycotting companies that consumers disapprove of isn’t new, there is a growing phenomenon of ‘buycotting’. Consumers are now choosing companies they like and deliberately purchasing from them to express their approval.

Who is doing it well?

Lush, a fresh handmade cosmetic company with headquarters in Dorset, England are championing brand purpose and doing it well. They have the purpose of ‘we believe’ and have spoken up about a range of issues that they feel passionate about - such as fighting animal testing and ethical buying.

Interestingly, Lush have a no global advertising policy, yet have mastered brand loyalty. They get their message across in other ways-their website, stores and packaging. They believe in organic marketing, beginning with their own staff as brand advocates and 4 million followers on Instagram. They engage with their audience online using hashtags and posts, which is essential when Marketing to Generation Z who make up a large part of their customer demographic. This has resonated with consumers, making them feel part of a bigger cause and change in the world.

How to find your brand purpose

If you want to change your company’s brand purpose (or create a whole new one), you need to be certain it’s both authentic and sustainable. For instance, if your purpose centres around ethics it’s imperative that you can show integrity and credibility in all areas of the business - from the hiring of staff to sourcing of materials. In a world where news becomes viral in a matter of minutes, companies can’t hide from scandals and need to minimise this risk by being genuine.

So where do you start? Look at what the world needs, what your customer wants and what you offer. Be honest about what you are passionate about as a company, but keep your target audience and customers in mind throughout the process. It’s a great idea to take this opportunity to get a deeper understanding of what’s important to your customer with qualitative research. Don’t forget about the value of your own team! They will all have their own ideas about the brand and what it means to them.

When trying to figure out your brand’s purpose, it can be tempting to pick a popular issue such as female empowerment, but you need to be honest about what inspires you and go from there. If the purpose doesn’t match your product or service, it won’t appear authentic. Remember, it doesn’t have to be charity based or complex. L’Oréal’s brand purpose of ‘sharing beauty with all’ is non-specific which gives them room to have many different campaigns. Don’t panic if you already have a brand purpose but have realised it doesn’t match your brand or audience. Just change it! Customers expect brands to grow and change and coming up with a new idea is better than continuing with an unsuitable one.

Tell everyone

So, you have decided on your brand purpose. What next? Now it’s time to let people know about it. Most brands choose not to explicitly spell it out, instead communicating their purpose in a way that engages and inspires the customer, using imagery and campaigns. Your platforms for media communication, website and print marketing need to be consistent and all send the same message. Depending on your strategy and the size of your business you can now start building marketing campaigns based around your purpose. Slogans are a great way to grab people’s attention and show the direction you are head in. Such as Dove’s ‘You are more beautiful than you think’. If you are a smaller company that doesn’t have campaigns, then your brand purpose can be communicated on social media accounts and your office environment.

The powerful outcome

We know that brand purpose isn’t a simple process, but the powerful outcome is connecting with clients on a personal level. They see themselves in the brand and this creates brand advocates who will recommend you to friends and family, securing repeat business and a bigger following.  We think that brand purpose is something that all companies should invest in for all those reasons.

When defining your own brand purpose, focus on making an emotional connection with your customers and inspiring brand loyalty. But it doesn’t end there. Your strategy will need to be monitored and reviewed to ensure its continued sustainability, relevance and success.

Written by at Burnthebook
Date modified: 2018-05-18

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