A brand’s purpose is the “why” of its existence, and that’s not generating profits. Properly articulating your brand’s purpose wins consumer support, which leads to a great deal more business.
Flow Communications recently hosted a Flow Connect webinar, in which Flow CEO Tara Turkington unpacked what a brand purpose is, why it’s vital for organisations to effectively communicate theirs to their consumers – and what can happen when they’re insincere about it.
A brand’s purpose articulates why an organisation exists, what problems it is here to solve, and who it wants to be to each human it touches through its work – its reason for being, said Tara.
However, purpose and profit are not mutually exclusive. Deloitte Insights research in 2020, into the top issues consumers identify with when making decisions about brands, found that they care about:
How a company treats its employees (28%)
How it treats the environment (20%)
How it supports the communities in which it operates (19%)
Deloitte Insights found that purpose-driven companies experience higher market-share gains, grow three times faster than their competitors, and achieve higher employee and customer satisfaction scores.
The Strength of Purpose Study by the Zeno Group, a poll of 8 000 consumers and 75 companies in 2020, delivered similar findings: consumers are four to six times more likely to purchase from, protect, champion and trust a brand if it has a strong purpose. And the younger the consumer, the more likely this is the case.
Throughout the webinar, Tara asked a series of five questions of the audience, for them to gauge if they are living their brand purpose, and she offered tips.
Question 1: does your brand have a purpose?
The Zeno Group study identified eight attributes of a purposeful brand, in order:
Fair treatment of all employees.
Products or services that reflect the needs of people today.
Ethical and sustainable business practices.
Support for important social causes.
Creation of new job opportunities.
A diverse and inclusive culture.
A strong set of values.
Question 2: is your purpose memorable and clearly articulated?
To illustrate her question, Tara presented six brand purpose statements and challenged the audience to identify which brands they represented:
To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world (Nike)
Adding quality to life (Woolworths)
Spread ideas (TED)
Connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful (LinkedIn)
To entertain the world (Netflix)
To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy (Tesla)
That some of these are big companies with big marketing budgets, but were difficult to connect with their brand purpose, shows the challenge in effectively communicating the purpose. This hurdle is even higher for smaller companies, said Tara.
Question 3: are your marketing and communications efforts aligned with your purpose?
To best communicate your brand purpose, Tara said, remember the following:
Authenticity is key
Make sure your purpose aligns with your consumers
Articulate your purpose clearly and frequently internally
It starts with you – walk the walk
On the last point, the Zeno study found that 77% of consumers believe a company’s leader should embody its brand purpose and mission in their personal lives also. Tara juxtaposed Tony Hayward, the former BP CEO who went sailing during the Horizon Deep oil-spill crisis in 2010 (and subsequently lost his job), and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has led from the front during the Russian invasion of his country.
Question 4: are you guilty of wokewashing?
Essentially, if you do something that goes against your brand purpose, consumers will punish you. Zeno found that, in such cases, 76% of its respondents had acted by no longer buying from the brand in question, switching to another brand or discouraging others from supporting the brand.
Examples Tara gave were @PayGapApp, a clever Twitter bot that calls out brands for paying women less when they claim to champion women, and Nike, which ran a campaign supporting pregnant athletes when it provided them with no maternity benefits (it does now, following an outcry).
Question 5: are your communications and marketing efforts relevant, resonant and specific to your customers?
Tara’s tip here is to put the customer at the centre of your communications, communicating sensitively and bearing in mind the following:
Consumers are tuned into purpose, but are also cynical – mediating the balance between these is key
Shout too loudly and the cynic will say, “I don’t believe you”
Fail to communicate your purpose, and your consumers simply won’t care about you
People will believe you’re a company with purpose when other people tell them you are
For more information about how Flow can help your company to live its brand purpose, email email@example.com.