Define your brand purpose

It is never too early or too late to (re)define your brand. This is also the reason why we'll take you through this branding series for the next 8 weeks. In 8 simple steps to a next-level brand, ready to rise above your competitors and really stand out. Ready to get really close to your customers and make your brand human.

The brand purpose definition

Brand purpose is the fundamental essence, the core, of any experience with your brand. It's what makes brands relevant and necessary in an increasingly connected world where people can access information about products or services from every conceivable angle. Therefore it must be something extraordinary if you want your business to stand out among all the others!

People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.
- Simon Sinek, How great leaders inspire action

A powerful brand purpose definition or brand story sets out a company's true intention to change the world for the better. In a world where so many brands are clamoring for attention, it improves the brand loyalty of a customer, sets you apart from your competitors and it also sets a clear and strong corporate culture.

Brand purpose is important to win, win, win! When done consistently.

90% Of consumers consider the brand values very important and 64% even avoid brands that have values contrary to their own. A good product or excellent services are no longer the only things customers look for. Products and services are increasingly similar, prices are the same and national borders are blurring.

Your brand will be much more appealing to your customers

You have to make sure that customers fall in love with your brand and once they do, make sure they stay there. Too often we see companies that understand this well and communicate values and norms that are music to our ears, but at the same time don't extend this to the whole organization.

Performing brand purpose is something that won't fool anyone. If you really want to create a positive impact and attract passionate and loyal customers... then it must be meticulously executed and you cannot help but be sincere.

A brand purpose gives your brand a human feel and boosts engagement

Everyone wants to change the world and companies often see it (far too) big. Big promises, it is often difficult to fulfill and it quickly becomes a disadvantage rather than an advantage.

Look much more at what you can promise as a brand and try to imagine how you would like to experience this as a customer.

Make your brand very human. You'll see that customers will link much more easily to your brand and will also be inclined to share your brand more.

A few tips to make your brand more human:

  • Engage with your customers, just be social and interact
  • Try to be as transparent as possible, people like it much more
  • Focus on your current customers, they are your brand advocates
  • Show them who is behind your company, behind the scenes is always fun content to see
  • Most important, set your brand purpose and stay true to it, at all times in all situations!

It's about employer branding & setting up a company culture

A brand purpose statement distinguishes you from your competitors, but at the same time makes you more attractive to your (future) employees. In today's competitive market (buzzword incoming), the war for talent, the right talent, is here to stay. More than ever, a competitive salary and an attractive and diverse job are not the only factors that attract (and keep) people.

Here, too, defining a strong sense of purpose will give you an edge over your competitors. Just like customers, your employees want clarity about what you stand for as a company and they too want to feel connected to your brand.

More and more often, we see companies setting up complete websites to boost their employer branding. They show employees the values of the brand, the story behind it, and show the human side of the brand more than ever. The employee experience is put much more in the picture, they are after all your most precious asset!

Other popular employer branding tools include employee advocacy programs, employee-generated content, and employer branding surveys.

The golden circle to your brand purpose

A brand purpose statement is important, I think by now you get that point.

Purpose-driven brands don't just link their product or service, they are not only focused on making money, but they make sure that the world knows what they stand for and how these values link to the personal values of their customers.

To determine your brand purpose we use the golden circle, a popular concept the American visionary thinker Simon Sinek once share with the world. Sinek discovered a pattern in the way successful companies and their business leaders actually think, act, and communicate. The Why, How, What.

To use the Golden Circle for your brand purpose you should be able to answer three simple questions:

  • Why – Why are you doing what you are doing? Why are you in business, and why did you develop your product or service? Why do you get out of bed every morning?
  • How – How will this help your target market? What problems are you solving for your customers, and what challenges are you helping them overcome?
  • What – What are you offering? What is your product or service, and what are its features and benefits?

Most brands on the planet know what they do. It's all about the products or services they sell and what they work with each and every day. Some know how they do what they do. It's what makes them special, what sets them apart from the competition. But very few, nearly none, know WHY. It's not about making money, that is a result of it. It's a sense of purpose, cause, or belief. It's actually the very reason your organization actually exists.

More on this can be found in Sinek's book Start with why.

Find your brand purpose in just 5 guiding questions

The why, how, and what are great questions to answer but sometimes it might be a bit easier with some follow-up questions we like to use in a brand strategy workshop. These 5 follow-up questions tend to make you think deeper and take you back to the true core.

It gets people thinking again about why they actually started in the first place and what their true belief was. At the same time, it gets others who joined, later on, to think about what made them fall in love with your company. Why did they pick this job or really wanted to join the team in the first place?

There are two great days in a person's life - the day we are born and the day we discover why.
- William Barclay

What led you to start your business?

Why did you start your business? Be completely honest with yourself here, no fluffy stuff if you just started this to make money. An honest answer always leads you closer to your brand purpose, a proper one, one you can commit to in the long run! Let this question empower creative exploration in the depths of your intrinsic driving force.

What makes you unique, a one-of-a-kind business?

How different are you compared to your competitors but also what makes you as a person unique?

What exactly is it that makes people (customers) want to stay in touch with you, is the emotional connection a driver for your company?

The real beauty of purpose-driven companies is that they're authentic to the core and not just a one-off well written mission statement.

What would you like to be known for?

Let's deep dive so you outperform the status quo. If there would be one thing you would like your brand to be known for, what would it be?

The idea is to make your customer talk about your brand, it's an integral part of the customer journey.

What do they say to others about you, at the start of the cooperation but also after you've been working together for 10 years already?

What change do you want to bring to the world?

The way brands communicate and how they can change the world (or maybe just even your industry) is how the world transition from nobody knows you, to a well-known company name.

Bring change by defining a purpose that contributes to solving problems, (real ones) in the market you're in and align it with a mission.

What value should your products or services bring, and what would change in people's lives?

What makes you believe strongly that you will make it as a brand?

Think about what makes you strongly believe in your business and what hasn't changed over the last few years and what made you always stuck through?

If you are down on the ground, what would get you up again?

Is it the feedback of a customer, a strong belief in your vision or thought you always have in your mind?

A clear brand purpose example

Now that you know all about a company's brand purpose let's get you some inspiration. You'll see that the brand purpose is not only put on paper, it drives marketing campaigns, a website, packaging, the voice of a brand or even the advertising campaigns brands are running. One of the best brand purpose examples out there is Dove.

Dove, a Unilever brand, has always lived up to their brand purpose in all they do and communicate. Its brand image and brand purpose are strongly aligned. They actually even took on a complete project (the self-esteem project) to take their brand purpose strategy to the next level.

Dove's mission is to encourage women and girls to develop a positive relationship with beauty, helping to raise their self-esteem, and thereby enabling them to realise their full potential.

They took away the stereotypical images of beauty and partnered with Getty images and creator network Girlgaze to build a photo library that goes far beyond the stereotypes of beauty. This effort flows naturally from their brand purpose. They use these images throughout all of their campaigns and you just feel that they are living up to their promise.

This is all because they want to relate to their audience. An audience that wants to relate to a brand that shows a greater diversity of women in its media, advertising, and commercials. This makes their audience feel seen and represented.

One of their latest campaigns online shows this.

Living up to your brand purpose is a hard task

But as perfect as you might want to be, even socially conscious businesses such as Dove can get it wrong. Looking at the campaigns they have made over the last few years, all of them had the best intentions but caught negative attention as well.

In 2017 they launched a campaign in which they showed different women of skin taking off their tops, morphing into the next. It was a well-intended campaign but online it rapidly backfired on them. It goes to show that even a company with a well-thought brand purpose, and to me, a great example, makes mistakes from time to time.

It's not keeping them from making a positive change in the world. Rock on, Dove! We all love your brand purpose!

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