What is brand purpose?

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Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. While the 4 P’s of marketing have remained a cornerstone of marketing theory, a 5th P has been making a strong case for its inclusion. Purpose (brand purpose) has become an essential ingredient for solidifying brand identity, building customer loyalty and nurturing positive brand associations.  It might be time to ask yourself; Does my brand have a purpose? 

So, what exactly is brand purpose?

Brand Purpose is far more than a company’s ultimate goal, it’s an aspirational and idealistic view of what you want to become, the “why” of your brand’s existence. A brand purpose may not entirely make or break a brand, but it will fortify the other brand elements together, forging a stronger and more conducive brand identity. 

Why do brands need purpose?

Today’s consumers are demanding more from their brands than ever before. Patrons are becoming increasingly more educated and informed about the choices they make when it comes to purchase decisions. While a USP and mission are important aspects when cultivating a brand, they are no longer sufficient in retaining or building customer loyalty and repeat purchase behaviour. 

Customers want to connect with brands on a deeper level. Companies and organisations which have purpose go beyond the scope of their products or services, allowing consumers to support them in similar aspirations and goals. A 2019 Porter Novelli/Cone study revealed that 89% of participants had positive connotations with brands that displayed purpose. Additionally, 86% were more trustworthy of brands with 83% more likely to be loyal to purpose-driven brands. 

Start Finding your Purpose 

Former CMO of P&G Jim Stengel, identified and broke down fields of 5 human values into categories that can easily be translated into brand purpose. Although every brand may not fit squarely within one of the 5 categories, it is an ideal starting point for discovering a purpose in line with your brand identity. 

  1. Impacting Society
  2. Evoking Pride
  3. Inspiring Exploration
  4. Enabling Connections 
  5. Eliciting Happiness or Joy

Aligning your brand’s purpose with one of these human value ideals provides deeper connections with your demographic that span far beyond the products and services you offer. 

Communicating brand purpose 

Authentic purpose-driven brands are more successful, but how do you effectively communicate purpose without losing authenticity? 

Be transparent with your customers

Transparency is vital when it comes to promoting authenticity. Be transparent with your actions and how they reflect your brand’s purpose. For example, if your purpose is to work towards a more inclusive society, be sure to encourage and highlight diversity in your hiring practices, communicate in an inclusive manner and be mindful of how your marketing material can include (or potentially exclude) various demographics. 

Collaborate with care 

Be sure that you chose to partner with sponsors, influencers and other brands that share similar values. It’s important that your purpose and values be consistent across all channels, this includes the voices you select to represent and promote your brand. If your purpose is to provide healthy and affordable meals for children, partnering with a junk food label would be seen as contradictory to your purpose. 

Remember who you are 

Authenticity can be built through sharing honest, meaningful, and sometimes personal stories. Remember why your brand has its purpose and share those reasons with your audience. When customers have a better understanding of why and how the brand’s purpose came to be, it provides a deeper layer to your purpose, boosting authenticity and nurturing brand loyalty.  

Can a brand find purpose later in life? 

Finding a purpose is relatively simple in the early stages of brand conceptualisation, but what if your brand is already well-established? It’s highly likely that as a well-established brand, there will already be a clear-cut vision and mission, but can that be translated into a purpose? 

Perhaps the most efficient and effective method to identify a brand purpose in an already flourishing brand is with a complete brand audit. During this process you can review past marketing strategies, positioning statements and other useful data regarding the brand’s success over the years. Through reviewing past actions and decisions, you can discover a purpose that aligns with your brand and activities. 

A brand audit is a comprehensive project that requires time, research, and a fair amount of analysis. If you are looking to complete a brand audit to discover a purpose, it may be a good idea to enlist the expertise of a packaging design agency. Relevant expertise can be incredibly valuable, especially when looking to “find a purpose” after years of operation.     

Whether your brand is wildly successful or still in its early days, it’s time to have a good hard look at “why” your brand is and what it aspires to be.

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