Ten characteristics of a strong brand purpose – a checklist for your brand

This blog post is all about the benefits of brand purpose and how to build purpose-driven brands. 

Last week, I had the pleasure of facilitating a panel at the Future of Brands conference in London.

The panel featured 3 amazing social entrepreneurs who shared their learnings on the power of brand purpose. They provided great inspiration and practical examples of how their purpose drives brand activism and influences everything they do in their social business. Have a watch of a clip of our discussion here.

First, a quick reminder:

What is brand purpose?

Your brand’s purpose sets out WHY you exist (as opposed to what you do or how you work). For a more in-depth brand purpose definition, check out this blog post

Here are 10 characters of a strong brand purpose from our panel discussion:

1. A strong brand purpose tackles injustice

Or adversity. To create a strong purpose, work out how your brand can make a positive difference in the world, and put this at the forefront of everything you do. For social entrepreneurs, it’s this sense of injustice and passion for tackling it that gets them through the tough times, inspires them to innovate, and motivates them to seek systemic change. And this is something we can all embed. A strong brand purpose goes beyond just solving everyday problems and sets out how your brand can help make the world a better place.

 

2. A strong brand purpose keeps everyone going when things get tough

Having a clear sense of purpose breeds resilience. It takes us beyond the short term or financial gain alone.

When things don’t work out, having a strong brand purpose helps us find another way. We move from asking, ‘what can I do?’ in a despairing way, to ‘how can we help?’ as a call to action.

 

3. A strong brand purpose is super clear

And simply articulated. Not just to ourselves, but to everyone we come across. It acts as a clarion call to action and a beacon to attract those who can benefit AND those who can help. And it unifies everyone within our teams with a shared sense of meaning.

 

4. A strong brand purpose sets your vision

Ever heard the definition ‘your vision is what the world looks like in the future for your organisation’? That’s way too vague to be useful. However, if you have a strong brand purpose, you can use it to define your vision. Simply ask ‘What does the future look like, if we’re SUCCESSFULLY living up to our purpose? The answer will determine your vision – and how you move forward.

 

5. A strong brand purpose helps everyone win

Ever heard of the phrase’ win-win’? Well, if your brand purpose is strong enough, it should create ‘win-win-wins’. Once you are clear on why you exist and why the world needs what you offer, the next step is working out how it benefits your customers, your organisation AND the world around us too. And a purpose which benefits all 3 is what we call a ‘win-win-win’!

 

6. A strong brand purpose is authentic

Your brand purpose should come from who you are and what you stand for. It is not a veneer that sits on top of your brand, or a short term ‘do good’ initiative, designed to grab attention. Authenticity is driven by people being able to see examples of your purpose at work and in practice in the wider world. It is earned, not claimed, by providing evidence that you practice what you preach. And the more examples you can provide, the stronger your purpose will be.

 

7. A strong brand purpose drives change

See point 1. Purpose is about being clear on why the world needs what we do. In defining this need, we understand how we can help. And that can’t help but drive change – both within and outside our organisation, because in working out how to solve the need, we also understand what we need to do differently.

 

8. A strong brand purpose connects us to our audiences

As Simon Sinek says ‘People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it’. This has been so often quoted, that it’s almost a cliché. However, the reason it’s used so often is because it is TRUE. If you can communicate why you do what you do – your brand’s purpose – it will motivate your audiences because it connects to their personal values AND they can see their role within it. And they feel proud to associate themselves with your brand as a result. This is true for all audiences – staff, customers and partners alike.

 

9. A strong brand purpose makes us collectively stronger

We live in a complex world and no organisation has all the answers. However linked to the previous point, a strong brand purpose helps everyone see their role within it and buy into it as a result. If we can bring people together under a shared sense of purpose that drives action, it increases our chances of success.

As Cephas Williams from 56 Black Men said:

 

“I’m not Superman and I can’t save the world alone, but if I have a purpose, maybe I can assemble the Avengers?”

 

10. A strong brand purpose gives us focus

Our brand purpose should be the lens through which we view the world. It should be the criteria by which we make every decision. And we should seek to live up to it in everything we do. If we lose this focus, it sends us off track and we immediately lose credibility. This is what drives the notable examples of ‘brand purpose gone wrong’ that have received so much attention over the years for example, Pepsi’s “Kendall Jenner Protest” ad, M&S launching an LGBLT sandwich and many more. To avoid these fails, we need to use our purpose to focus everything we do (even if it’s difficult in the short term).

 

How to build a purpose-led brand

Use these 10 features of a strong brand purpose as a checklist and criteria as you’re building a purpose led brand.

Does your organisation have a strong brand purpose statement? Have you even articulated what your purpose is? If not, it’s time. If the world truly needs what you do, having a strong brand purpose will help you meet that need.

As the great Anita Roddick said,

 

“Never be seduced into believing it isn’t the role of business to tackle the big issues, because it absolutely is. The business of business should not be about money. It should be about responsibility. It should be about public good, not private greed.”

And that starts by having a strong brand purpose.

 

Brand purpose is at the heart of every successful brand strategy. To find out how we can help you build brand purpose and create a brand purpose statement that drives everything you do, check out our services.