If you were to think of your reason for being in business, your brand’s purpose, would you say to bring in profits? If so, there’s a whole world of what your brand does and what it means to your customers that you’re missing out on.
All businesses have to make money to stay afloat, but that’s not the “why” behind your brand. You created your business to make your customers’ lives better and solve their problems – and therein lies the emotional connection.
Unwrapping Brand Purpose
Brand purpose is the main reason that your brand exists. Essentially, it’s your reason for being beyond just making money. And from there, you can develop your brand’s decisions, thought processes, and virtually every aspect of your brand strategy, from your brand typography to your brand identity.
In the past, brands were in a power position. No matter what the consumer thought, brands dictated the terms of the relationship, and if the customer didn’t like it, they could go to a competitor. In some cases, that one brand was the only option.
Now, consumers have choice and more power than they once did. Brands have an online presence, including active social media channels, so customers have an outlet to share their opinions and express their complaints, often in large numbers, and drive change.
Brands have to answer to their customers, and brand purpose is part of how they do that.
Why Does Brand Purpose Matter to Customers?
According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, humans are driven by meaning and purpose. We all have five needs that form our motivation, including physiological needs, the need for safety, the need for love and belonging, the need for esteem, and the need for self-actualization.
The last need is the desire to achieve your true purpose in life. When you’re conscious of that need, we seek out relationships that align with our beliefs and values, whether that’s friendships, employers, or even brands. When a brand has a distinct personality and purpose, that becomes another relationship for customers to connect with.
With social media, customers have an opportunity to understand brands on a deeper level and develop more direct lines of communication. They share what they like about a brand, what they don’t, and what they think could be improved.
Effective brands are taking a proactive approach to controlling the narrative. They listen to their customers and think of how to address the wants and needs, whether that’s with their products and services or their social responsibility and ethical practices. These are purpose-driven brands.
How Brand Purpose Builds Customer Connection
Another motivating factor in the purpose-driven brand is the now infamous Ted Talk from Simon Sinek in 2009. His “Start with Why” Ted Talk and his Golden Circle model became a benchmark for brands and business leaders to achieve more for their customers.
Still one of the most-watched Ted Talks, Sinek’s “Start with Why” became a must-see for branding. He also wrote a book of the same name that’s one of the best books in branding.
Both the talk and the book consider a brand’s “why,” or its purpose for being, as well as the brands that inspire and persuade through their carefully crafted brand purposes. Apple is one of Sinek’s favorite examples, because people buy not what a brand does, buy why it does it.
This is, at its core, the brand purpose.
Sinek also offers the Golden Circle, which is a framework for how brands can discover their purpose. Every brand understands what they do in the literal sense, as in the products and services they offer. Some brands understand how, which is either their business practices or the unique selling points they offer.
The “why” is more challenging. Many brand owners will say they’re in business to make money or drive profits and sales, but that’s not a brand purpose. They have to pinpoint the purpose that drives their brand.
The most successful brands, like Apple, understand the motivation behind why they do what they do, and that informs the rest of the brand.
Struggling with your own brand purpose? Here are some questions to ask:
- Why did you get into business?
- What are your unique selling points? What makes you different?
- What do you want your brand to be known for?
- What change do you want to see in the world?
- How are you disrupting your industry?
- What are you providing to your customers?
- Why does your brand exist?
What Is Your Brand Purpose?
Having the answers to these questions at your disposal are a good start for brainstorming, but you will need to distill them into a clear statement that makes an impact.
Our purpose is to [contribution] so that [impact]
You may need to write down a few statements, tweak them, and brainstorm to get it right.
Examples of Brand Purpose Statements
If you need some inspiration, here are some great examples of brands that have impactful brand purpose statements.
Starbucks is one of the best-known brands in the world. Its purpose is “to inspire and nurture the human spirit one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”
One of the earliest brands to pioneer the idea of a brand purpose, Starbucks champions sustainability, farmer equity practices, and fair trade.
Despite being a child-focused brand, LEGO has a strong purpose “to inspire and develop children to think creatively, reason systematically and release their potential to shape their own future – experiencing endless human possibility.”
How does LEGO do it? By creating fun experiences through a unique building system that nurtures both imagination and logic skills to enrich children and teach valuable life skills.
Cliq is a well known merchant services provider with a commitment to drive other businesses forward. Its brand purpose is to be “the champions of commerce.”
The whole purpose is, “we believe in the power of a business to move the world forward. We are the fuel that keeps business humming consistently, and without fail. Our effort, every day, is the engine that allows makers to make, creators to create, and experts to execute.”
Discover Your Brand’s Unique Purpose
A brand purpose begins with the “why” – why do you do what you do? Though it takes some work and brainstorming, once you find your brand purpose, you can build stronger connections with your customers to shape your brand strategy and inspire your customers.
Author Bio: Kyle Johnston
Kyle Johnston is a Founding Partner and President of award winning brand, content creation & brand strategy consulting firm, Gigasavvy. After spending the last 20+ years in Southern California, Kyle recently moved his family to Boise, ID where he continues to lead the agency through their next phase of growth.