Brand purpose. 

This has been a buzz word for the last couple of years that has businesses asking – why is a brand purpose so important and how to do it?

To begin with, a brand purpose is the reason why a brand exists and the positive impact it creates in the world. Some get it right, while some don’t. But we see that brands that keep a strong purpose are winning – Nike, Dove and Apple are just some of the great examples. 
Especially in this day and age, here are three reasons why a purpose-led brand is critical and powerful – 

#1. It strengthens customer loyalty. 

Gone are the days when a great product, catchy advertising and big promises are enough to convince customers to choose a brand. Customers, nowadays, are much harder to convince especially with all the many options they have at their fingertips. They look for something that is more than just a great product and they are also more critical of their choices. Hence, they are more drawn to brands that are authentic, create a meaningful connection and have values that are aligned to theirs. 

Dove has always championed how beauty should not be one-dimensional – not defined by one’s age, body shape, skin and hair color. 

This is a clear purpose that speaks directly to a defined audience that Dove wants to reach. Not only does it create a strong bond, but it also empowers them on an emotional level – to never compromise but instead be proud of their authentic beauty. 

A well-thought brand purpose can have a unifying effect on customers – making them feel that they are part of a movement or cause. It inspires them, makes them feel invested and gives them the feeling that it is worth being loyal to the brand. 

With an authentic brand purpose that they strongly relate with, it would be not be an easy task to convince these women who love Dove to choose another brand. 

#2. It guides every decision to be on-brand.

A clear brand purpose is a critical guide in business decision-making. Using the filter of whether an action is aligned with the brand purpose, companies could find it easier to implement decisions which are on-brand. 

Apple’s why is to push boundaries, question the status quo and think different. Hence, their products and initiatives have always been game-changing. 

When Apple launched beautiful Mac’s in contrast to the black or white bulky desktops, they were celebrated. When the brand decided to launch the iPod or the iPhone, it felt like a natural progress from their Mac business. When they started opening beautiful stores that did not look like the boring computer shops that we were used to, it certainly did not feel off. 

This is the power of a strong and clear brand purpose – it guides a brand to evolve in a way that does not feel contrived and would not alienate its customers but would instead strengthen their love for the brand. 

#3. It impacts the numbers. 

There are times when I hear companies say that it does not make any business sense to focus on purpose as they would just veer away from what matters most – achieving great numbers. 
We have seen, however, that those making the conscious effort to be purposeful companies and brands are actually the ones winning. They have higher returns compared to companies that just solely focus on being revenue machines. 

Yes, it takes a lot of commitment and dedication for a brand to own and stand by its purpose. But if done right, it could also rake in a lot of benefits. 

Nike caused some controversy when it launched its “Just Do It” 30th anniversary campaign with Colin Kaepernick – his voice and face introduced the message “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything,” a reference to his national anthem protest which caused him his career. 

Some people who objected burned their Nike clothing and trainers. But because Nike’s action was not contrived to what the brand is all about – being fearless and just doing it – their target customers who share the same values supported them big time. Immediately after the launch, it was reported that Nike stock prices reached an all-time high. Not to mention the PR value it garnered including the numerous social media mentions.

Customers nowadays are savvy and know how to differentiate between what is fabricated and what is real. They are more critical of their choices – wanting to be associated with brands that share the same values. And they are more demanding for businesses to take a strong point of view. 

And once you become that brand for them – authentic, relevant and firm in taking a stand – then you will come out of the game, winning.

As what our CEO, Andrea shared, “For the many years that I have worked to help build brands, it always feels different when I know that I am selling more than just a product. It was more inspiring when I knew that I was part of a cause to help unleash the potential of kids with dirt is good rather than helping just sell detergent. It also felt more meaningful knowing that I was part of a movement to break society’s one-dimensional beauty norms than helping just sell a moisturizing soap bar.“

And customers feel the same way too. Their loyalty and love for the brand are strengthened when it feels like they are buying more than just, say, a pair of Nike trainers. Instead, they buy into the Nike world and values that connect and be part of a cause that they can relate with.

Nowadays, a lot think that humanitarian efforts and good acts are the company’s purpose. However, it is critical to not confuse purpose with corporate social responsibility or a company’s feel-good and positive actions. Though it is possible to have a social brand purpose like Patagonia or Toms, it should not be the rule. What is critical to ensure, however, is its authenticity and that this purpose breathes into everything in the business. A company, for example, cannot champion breaking society’s norms when it does not give equal pay and benefits as an employer. 

Again, today’s customer could easily differentiate marketing from reality. And if done right, an authentic brand purpose would not only help ensure customer loyalty, a secured future and higher returns but, ultimately, it positively impacts and creates something meaningful in people’s lives. And that is the real power of a purpose-led brand.