Brand purpose at a crossroads

We are at an interesting place when it comes to brands defining their brand purpose and core company values. In my view, many are seriously pushing the boundaries when it comes to sacrificing what their ‘purpose’ for existence actually is in exchange for profit.

What is brand purpose?

Yes it is the reason why a brand exists in the first place, but generally speaking is the core of what your customers believe in that made them buy from you initially. Customers should always be aware of your purpose and also any positive consequences to society and the environment.

I was at an event last week and the senior marketer I was talking to was asking for advice on defining the core company values of her employer which was little over 10 years old. I was gobsmacked that this particular company had gotten to such a size – over 200 employees – without defining these. ‘These people are just turning up for work everyday with no understanding of what they are actually achieving together!’ I thought. It’s like playing a football match without any goalposts. It doesn’t happen. And you certainly wouldn’t get out of bed for it.

On the other hand, we are currently working with a global company to refresh their core values and roll them out across both their internal and external communications. They genuinely care about not just what people on the outside see and perceive, but those that work there living and breathing those values. If they aren’t adopted internally, how will they be perceived by others? They are talking legacy. They aren’t just well established, they are thinking 10-15 years ahead and ensuring those values remain future-proof. When the company was set up over 20 years ago, they are still following through the ‘why’ from back then.

What does your brand say?

It’s so important for brands to understand a brand purpose is more than just words and marketing. If you fall short of delivering these values, you’ll be known for being inconsistent and it will cost you dearly. It has to align with your actions. What your brand says and what is actually does will be monitored closely by those that are engaging with you. Wouldn’t you much rather your advocates celebrated your purpose with you, because what they bought into was actually happening?

So why are brands not following through with their purposeful ‘words’? Profit is usually what gets in the way. Rash decisions are made in the best interests of bottom line that in a split second, blow everything you’ve stated to date out of the water.

Part of your Brand DNA

If the mission and values are right, they will be in your DNA, so you shouldn’t have an issue when it comes to executing them, right?!

It’s why brands are struggling with authenticity. Having jumped on the purpose trend then struggling to keep that consistent message.

My only concern with the above is what if certain brands are using purpose with a hidden agenda of extra profit from their frankly ‘bullshit’? What if it pays off? It’s a fine risk either way.

You will probably have seen the documentary ‘Fyre’ in the past month or so – we all know the power of marketing! If profit is at the top of your agenda, fine. Do your customers know that? Always remember that long term – an authentic brand purpose wins every time.

Written by: Jamie Clifton
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