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Market landscape is changing. Customers are not only changing the way they do business but also the way they select brands to do business with. Products and services are important. But what customers want to know is: What impact does your brand make on society? What does it stand for?
It is the sense of purpose that customers look for in a brand. They want to associate with a brand that gives them the opportunity to be a part of something big. Brand Purpose can help brands make an impact on how their brand is viewed by customers. It can tell you what purpose you serve in society.
While all these may sound idealistic, there are many examples to prove that customer’s care care and advocate for brands that firmly stand for what they believe is right.
Now let’s address the question;
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Brand Purpose goes beyond a brand’s reason for making money. It is the demonstration that your brand exists beyond the purpose of making financial profits. Brand Purpose connects a brand to its customer on an emotional plain.
However, it is not simply a message. It is a product-led initiative. A powerful brand purpose relates to its products which then leads to achieving business and societal benefits. Your unique brand purpose sets you apart from your competitors.
For example, Airbnb inspires their members to explore. The company enables people to experience new adventures.
The purpose of Dove is to discover the value of ‘real beauty’. The brand encourages the message of body positivity with the aim to improve self-esteem all across the world.
Brand purpose adds value to the customers as well as the society as a whole. It creates a deeper emotional bond and trust between customer and company which in turn boost loyalty and ultimately sales.
As Raphael Bemporad, the founding partner of BBMG says that Brand Purpose represents a brand’s reason for being. It shows what you stand for.
Customers nowadays are drawn to the idea that by spending on a company they can do more than just receiving products and services. They want to feel and be a part of a bigger effort. In 2017, Earned Brand Study, found that
Customers want to be a part of a movement that can make a difference in society. And they want brands to use their power to make that change. Customers are more inclined towards the brand that takes a stand and does something good for society.
Customers are well informed, they are well aware of the practice of boycotting the companies that take a controversial stance. However, conscious customers are deliberately buying from those companies to express their approval.
We remember when San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick started protests along with many other players by kneeling during the National Anthem. He protested against oppression and police violence towards minorities.
Nike too supported the purpose and despite political groups urging for a boycott of the brand, they stood behind their “Kaepernick” ad campaign. The campaign was not smooth sailing, it was controversial. While at the beginning it looked like a mistake since the company lost $4 billion dollars. But in late 2018 the company hit an alltime high by increasing the market value by $6 billion dollars.
The first step is to clearly establish why you are doing it. Your brand purpose should resonate with the brand’s reason for being. It should be reflected in the product the company sells.
The best way to understand your brand purpose is to engage in a deeper conversation. Take these questions as examples. Answers to these questions may take you closer to your brand purpose:
The Body Shop, founded by Anita Roddick, which started as a way to help her family survive tough times has evolved into a brand that makes a difference in the world. The cosmetic company has established its motto of “Enrich not Exploit”. The brand empowers its consumers with natural products, free from animal cruelty and chemicals. The brand hopes to regenerate natural habitat of 75 million square meters, help 40,000 vulnerable people worldwide, and more
It is important to keep in mind that your brand purpose supports a social cause. It is different from social responsibility. The brand’s purpose must be related to what you are selling. The terms are not synonymous. A company for home appliances can make charitable donations for a children’s park. However, it does not say anything about their product.
You may be tempted to pick a trending issue. But you need to be honest about it and support an issue that is authentic to your brand. Customers know that the brand changes over time. So it is better to come with a new idea instead of supporting or continuing something your brand does not resonate with.
It is obvious that your brand purpose won’t resonate with all your customers. However, it should appeal to customers from your key demographic. Your brand purpose makes you relevant to your customers.
There are many different products and services in the market landscape. But, what customers look for is a brand with a purpose that makes them unique. Customers care that you care so make sure to show your key customers that you do care about causes that make a difference.
Once you have clearly defined and created your brand purpose you now need to build it into your brand environment. Begin building it from the inside.
Your teams and the people who work in and for your brand should understand and believe in your brand’s purpose. When your whole company is excited about your brand purpose you will start to see it in your conversations, marketing efforts, products, services, and every aspect of your business.
When everyone is aligned with the brand purpose from the higher-ups to the customer-facing staff your purpose will echo on everything you do. And, it will naturally resonate with your audience without having to put any effort.
Communicating your brand purpose across your audience does not have a one-size-fits-all market strategy. However, to tell everyone about your purpose you can use platforms such as your website, media channels, print marketing, emails, etc.
Lush, a handmade cosmetic company, has a global audience without any global advertising policy. The brand uses its website, stores, and packaging to get its message across. Lush has actively spoken up about issues such as ethical buying and animal testing.
The brand and its staff believe in organic marketing. With 4 million followers on Instagram, Lush uses hashtags and posts to engage with its audience. Their followers feel that they are part of a big effort and that they can cause a change in the world.
Most businesses believe that to create a purpose-centric brand they need to make more investments. They think the brand needs to put more money on changing products, or supply chain or advertise more to tell customers that they support something.
True brand purpose, however, does not mean you have to advertise to the world that you believe in a cause and support it. The main idea behind it is to DO something for what you believe and to help society rather than just advertising about it.
Mason Wartman’s Rosa’s Fresh Pizza in Philadelphia is a beautiful example of a small business making the change. One day in his shop a customer bought a slice of pizza for a homeless man. This gave Mason the idea to initiate “Pay it Forward”. Customers can buy a slice of pizza in advance. One post-it note on the wall would be one slice. Anyone in need of food can take a post-it note and get a free slice in return.
Mason and his customers fed many hungry people with this initiative. While he did not do it for publicity, his customers started talking and soon the media found the local pizza place.
Brand purpose has no need to be grand. Your brand just needs to believe in a cause, support, and act on it. It should not be treated as a golden gift wrapper that makes your product and services attractive to your customers.
When you think of your brand purpose you need to think of an emotional connection with your customers. Your customers associate themselves with your brand especially when they can relate to your purpose.
It should be a bridge between what your company does best and what you can give to the world. When you find the answer to this you can develop a true brand purpose that your customers will naturally advocate for and generate loyalty.