Why does brand purpose matter?
Purpose isn’t fluff.
It is as important as the speed of your supply chain, your recruitment policy and your compliance.
Brand purpose is unique to you.
Purpose is the unique benefit your business brings to the world. It sets out why you exist, in the context of people’s lives.
Purpose is a your North Star for all internal and external behaviours – from your services to your communications and often as importantly, your products.
In a world being ever more disrupted by technologies, media and customer-centric brand thinking, brands can outperform their competitors by creating powerful experiences, all driven by one single unifying vision and purpose.
Defining your purpose (or our ‘why’) will help you understand not only who you are, but also the products you create, the services you provide and the experiences you deliver, both today and in the future.
Why all the fuss and why now?
Over the last three decades we have seen dramatic change across market sectors. Consumer expectations have shifted in a way that would have been inconceivable in the 1980s.
In the broadcast era of advertising - before the web and before abundant leisure time and the demise of political and state institutions, few consumers were demanding of brands.
Now, in a commoditised world, brand purpose has transplanting empty mission statements, to become an essential mechanism to connect more meaningfully with the people that matter to us – our customers.
Purpose has become an essential foundation for planning and decision-making.
People now expect more. The power is with the people and the onus is on brands to change the customers world for the better. Purpose is the blueprint for this change.
Defining your brand purpose
Purpose for brands has 3 distinct facets.
These are by no means mutually exclusive, but it is likely that 1 brand will fall more heavily against 1 of the 3 specific areas.
1. Industry (Addressing the failures of your sector)
Purpose can begin with a determination of an organisation to better the industry in which they operate. To identify a failure and be determined to correct it.
2. Personal (Put customers in control)
On a more personal level, brands can focus on desire to better the lives of their customers with real moments of delight and value. Creating positive emotions and experiences, not only financial rewards.
3. World (Make your customers’ dreams a reality)
Finally at a higher level there can be a desire to use the change within the organisational sphere, to itself, create a change in the wider world. To make the world a better place.
Brands with purpose deliver against six principles:
· Builds a strong emotional connection
· Creates engaging experiences at every connection (touchpoints)
· Make peoples life better
· Have a compelling vision of the future
· Redefine the category
· Delivers sustainable value to the business and the customer
Why care about Brand Purpose?
Because is we don’t, we will lose relevance…
Politicians and rock stars used to change the world. Now technology does.
Even as wealth becomes more concentrated, power has become more dispersed.
Most of the notable failures of organisations becoming dis-intermediated – from cars to music, from photography to retail, from taxis to hotel rooms – can be traced back, at least in part, to the lack of an organisation knowing why it was there in the first place.
In the last ten years, hundreds of influential brands have fallen by the wayside, and let’s be clear, this is the beginning, not the end, of disruption. Autos, banking, healthcare and construction (amongst others) have yet to feel the full effect of user-centered transformation based in a clarity of purpose.
Purpose will impact every facet of your business..
· Employee Experience
· Roles and responsibilities
· Acquisition Strategy
· Company culture
· CRS policies
· Employee benefits
· Sponsorships and Partnerships
· Financial growth
· Revenue modelling
· Media strategy
By defining our purpose we give clarity to our organisation’s transformational efforts.
Purpose encourages change, disrupting and challenging the way we behave, creating action across our network, becoming a rallying cry and a call to arms.
Every aspect of our business will feel its impact. From our recruitment policy, to our product & services, to our acquisition strategy. Every facet of our business will be defined and shaped by our purpose.
Action is a prerequisite
Like all good strategy (which always ends in coherent action) purpose is inert without action. Only with action, when things change, investments made, buildings built, processes changed, tough decisions made – only by embodying the change we wish to see does purpose become activated.
Brand Purpose in action
What does a brand purpose give us?
How does it manifest itself in an organisation?
Where can we discern it?
If we unpack purpose, what is in the box? What are its constituent parts? If we can start to discern its effects, we are closer to being able to build belief around our own purpose.
At Hiya, we believe brand purpose gives us two critical facets – AMBITION and FOCUS – which together we bring to bear on the EXPERIENCES we create for our customers.
Purpose gives us ambition. Not individual ambition but “team” ambition.
When purpose is tangible and persuasive, individuals across the organisation are able to set aside a portion of their own self- interest for the greater good of the business.
Ambition from authentic purpose emboldens us. It gives us a psychological foundation for change, particularly when failure occurs. With purpose we can set failure in its proper context – nothing more than a set back on a journey towards a destination.
Forgetting customers have a choice between good enough and great, all too often, we see simply navigating our own politics as a win. In fact, the practical change we’ve managed to create in the experience of our users is limited and often still far short of the best in our category.
Ambition driven by purpose gives us the power, the balls, the sheer audacity to say “sorry, that’s not good enough”. Knowing where we’re eventually headed gives us the confidence not to settle for average.
As the famous story goes, when Jeff Bezos asked for one-click ordering, he threw the engineers, who demo’ed him a three -click purchase, out of the room. It wasn’t good enough for him. He knew that his purpose was convenience and anything else wasn’t what he wanted.
Ambition from purpose makes disrupting ourselves an imperative. Not an option.
To have brand purpose is to hand ourselves the joy and peace of focus.
Focus means we don’t become buried in the clamour of incessant, mindless activity. Purpose, particularly in the case of brands perceived as utilities, gives us the confidence to be silent until called upon; to have the confidence when to move, and when to remain still.
We need to be militantly focused on these moments, and no others. These are the times when we are centre stage. In the spotlight.
Purpose gives us the ability to bring these specific times into the sharpest possible focus. To bring an entire organisation’s creativity, energy, and intellect to bear.
In those the moments we must suffer no poverty of ambition. We must break through any apathy or cynicism around our own capabilities and ambitions, and dream as big, as bold and as great as we can.
Ambition and focus motivate and guide us. But neither can produce a tangible difference the lives of our customers.
Only when purpose leads us to shape experience do we dent the universe. Only when we cannot accept anything other than utterly unique and extraordinary in what we create for our customers does purpose become real.
In industries where practical distinctions between product features are relatively hard for a customer to discern, it is only in the experience where we can draw a clear, unambiguous distinction between ourselves and the rest of the competition.
Experience is increasingly the most powerful differentiator we have. Believing the experience is the key differentiator is, in truth, perhaps the greatest hurdle to traditional, incumbent brands. Senior management often simply cannot accept customer experience is their most pressing business issue.
A stunning simple customer experience might, on any particular day, go unnoticed, but in the passage of time, a consistently superior customer experience becomes evident to customers. It becomes intrinsically known.
Experience is the only thing that can differentiate us in this connected age.
Experience isn’t communications. It isn’t marketing. We can choose to spend budget on above the line awareness, but however much noise we create ahead of our customers’ experience eventually they must experience it.
Finding your purpose
So how do you build authentic purpose, and make the world a better place in a way that no one else does?
It isn’t an easy question.
It isn’t one many brands can answer authentically. Just to ask the question takes courage.
The truth of the matter is that brand purpose, like the purpose we all seek in our own lives, often takes years to find. It cannot be manufactured. It cannot be grated onto our organisation. Purpose doesn’t live in PowerPoint decks. It doesn’t magically emerge from a well-crafted three-hour brand workshop.
And it is only validated by success. Success is an essential output from which we can build.
The search for purpose isn’t linear. For a brand that doesn’t start out with purpose baked into its DNA at birth, it can take months, years even of collective effort – learning, thinking, building, assessing, reframing - for an organisation and its employees to find out what they’re doing it all for.
But as the saying goes, every great journey starts with a single step.
Purpose, like good strategy, understands that hard choices must be made. Purpose isn’t free. It is almost always an excellent investment: a return in happier employees, higher margins and a healthier balance sheet. But let’s be clear: we pay a price for purpose. We pay in cold hard cash, but we also pay in emotional terms. We will be challenged in finding our purpose and if we aren’t, we are doing it wrong.
It will be hard to accept some of the changes that building a purpose within your organisation will entail. Attitudes will need to change. Remits will be altered. Established ways of working must be set aside. Purpose comes with profound, often painful disruption as a necessary cost of rebirth.