Purpose-Driven Branding: Unleashing Authentic Impact

Ever wondered what sets a remarkable brand apart from the ordinary ones? The secret is a compelling purpose.

Pinpointing that purpose, however, can sometimes be challenging. It’s not uncommon for experts in branding, designers, and marketers to be at odds on the subject.

Is it all about the mission statement? How does it mesh with your brand identity? How does it inform your brand strategy? Is it the same as your brand values?

We’re here to put an end to those questions. Ultimately, a strong brand purpose is the ‘why’ behind your brand. Why you exist, why you do what you do, and why customers should care.

In this article, we delve into the essence of brand purpose. We’ll explore what shapes it, why it’s a must-have, and how it elevates your brand.

Whether you’re a startup looking to uncover your purpose or an established business looking to embed yours across all touchpoints, we’ve got you covered.


Purpose Driven Branding: What Is It?

We believe that a brand purpose is the ‘why‘ behind every business decision. Quite literally, it’s your brand’s higher purpose. It’s the reason your business exists. But it also goes beyond that – it’s about addressing challenges, pursuing ambitions, and striving to make a positive impact.

Not to be confused with company goals and aims, not every brand has a purpose.

Purpose-driven brands look beyond profit and products. They aim to contribute to making the world a better place, and everything they do is connected to that overarching purpose. This includes their mission statement, brand goals, core values, visual identity, company culture, operational processes, decision-making, marketing campaigns and more.

Purpose-driven companies come in all shapes and sizes, and being driven by a purpose isn’t limited to non-profits and NGOs. Truthfully, in today’s market, where customers value authenticity, brands with a strong sense of purpose have the best chance of staying top-of-mind.

Your company purpose is deeply personal to your brand. You need to ask yourself: why do we exist? What is important to us? Although this will vary from brand to brand, there are several impactful values that you may consider embodying:

1. Sustainability. Sustainable brands focus on protecting our environment. They work towards using less plastic and fighting against climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. These brands prioritise the health of our planet over profit and make business decisions that help the Earth in the long run.

2. Inclusiveness. Inclusive brands want everyone to feel welcome. They value accessibility and inclusivity, whether it’s showing fair representation or creating websites and products that can be accessed by all. These brands often tackle issues like age representation, racism, LGBTQ+ rights and more, making sure that discrimination is actively combated.

3. Social impact. These conscientious brands make it a priority to make a positive difference in society. They support local communities, stand up for animal welfare, and get involved in philanthropy. They understand the importance of giving back to the community, and make sure to do so.

4. Culture. Embracing diversity and celebrating different cultural aspects, these brands acknowledge the richness that diversity brings to the global landscape. They actively promote understanding and appreciation of various cultures.

It’s crucial to recognise that your brand’s purpose isn’t fixed. Much like other brand elements, it will evolve over time, undergoing transformation and growth. Embrace this fluidity and allow your purpose to adapt organically, reflecting internal changes and ever-changing trends.


Developing a Powerful Purpose Framework

There are a few key things to consider when defining your brand’s purpose. You should:

1. Delve into stakeholder well-being

To begin with, talk to the people involved in your business – your stakeholders. Your purpose should cater to the interests of everyone involved, so it’s important to pinpoint what matters to them. Always be sure to engage with a broad range of stakeholders, such as customers, employees, suppliers, local communities, and shareholders.

Avoid getting stuck on creating a single catchy tagline for your purpose. Trying to sum up the diverse needs of such a large group in one snappy strapline can be challenging and limiting. Instead, carefully think about what long-term goals mean to each of your key stakeholders individually. Your purpose should mirror your entire organisation, not just a percentage.

2. Define – or redefine – success metrics

Success is not a one-size-fits-all concept for every company, and it’s imperative for your organisation to define its own understanding of success.

Unlike industries influenced by competition, where success is typically assessed through metrics like market share, sales, or enhanced shareholder value, measuring success based on purpose introduces a unique perspective. It’s essential to evaluate your achievements based on your purpose and goals and how these goals align with the interests of each stakeholder.

3. Foster internal commitment

All successful companies are aligned internally. Before your purpose can be trusted by customers and potential investors, you must first create internal commitment. This means making sure everyone in the company fully supports – and understands – the purpose you’ve established.

When employees truly believe in your purpose, it creates a feeling of togetherness and motivation. They become organic brand ambassadors, living out your values in their daily tasks. This commitment doesn’t only stay in the workplace; it influences how employees interact with customers, work with suppliers, and handle every aspect of the business. It sets the groundwork for a unified and genuine brand identity that leaves a positive impact on customers and external stakeholders. It all begins from within. Your purpose doesn’t just affect your position and brand image; it shapes how you operate – and are perceived.


Purpose-Led Branding: The Key Benefits

Ultimately, when your brand is built around a central mission or goal, it can make a big difference in the world. It can also make a big difference in business.

Here are some of the key benefits of having a brand with a clear and cohesive purpose:

1. Customer loyalty. People are more likely to remain loyal to a brand that shares their values and that they connect with emotionally. These long-term relationships are crucial for building a strong and sustainable customer base.

2. Positive differentiation. Having a purpose sets your brand apart from the rest, showing your unique mission and commitment to making a positive impact.

3. Happy employees. A strong brand purpose can inspire and involve employees, making them proud and motivated in their work – not to mention making you a desirable place to work.

4. Societal impact. Most importantly, purpose-driven brands can contribute to important social or environmental causes, making a real positive impact on individuals, communities or the world at large.

5. Long-term success. Brands with a clear purpose are more likely to succeed in the long run, building strong relationships with both customers and the community.

6. Surging sales. People are drawn to brands that match their values. Purpose-led brands are immensely popular. According to a survey by Cone/Porter Novelli, 78% of consumers would recommend a purpose-driven company to others.

7. Partnership opportunities. Other businesses are more compelled to collaborate with businesses that are guided by a clear purpose and who really know who they are.


Impactful Brands Driven by Purpose: Case Studies

Here, we dive into some examples of purpose-driven brands.

1. Dove

This brand, owned by Unilever, aims to encourage a positive and inclusive idea of beauty while boosting the confidence of women and girls everywhere. They are dedicated to representing a variety of beauty standards, and they communicate this goal through their products, marketing pictures, and social media efforts. Every aspect of the brand supports its purpose. We love to see it!

2. Nike

There are few brands as well-loved for their purpose as this sportswear giant. Driven by the goals of promoting equality and pushing people to dream, push limits and reach their full potential, this brand is dedicated to empowering its customers.

Their 2012 Find Your Greatness campaign stands as a testament to this dedication, portraying individuals from diverse backgrounds striving to uncover their sporting greatness.

3. Patagonia

Possibly the most famous purpose-driven organisation, Patagonia’s purpose is clear: to save our planet. They truly represent what it means to be guided by a purpose and have used a huge number of brand initiatives to inspire sustainability.

Since 1985, they have been giving 1% of their sales to help preserve and restore the natural world. Recently, they changed their mission from a mix of product and purpose to a straightforward purpose-driven one: Patagonia is in business to save our home planet. Additionally, all of Patagonia’s profits are used to fight climate change and protect undeveloped land worldwide. Truly a planet-first pioneer.

4. Apple

Apple’s purpose is clear: to build the best products in the world that enrich people’s lives. Dedicated to providing the best user experience through innovative hardware, software, and services, the company continue to innovate cutting-edge products and services. This doesn’t just mean making completely new products, such as the iPhone and Apple Watch, but also constantly improving what they already offer.


Balancing Purpose With Profit

Ultimately, we’re in the age of purpose-focused brands. People – especially millennials and Gen Z – are leaning towards brands that have a strong sense of purpose and are drawn towards companies that focus on their values and make a positive impact on the world.

62% of consumers want companies to take a stand on issues they care about, while 66% think transparency is an attractive trait for a brand.


Clearly, being purpose-driven and making profits can go hand in hand. Consumers actively want to support brands that have a positive image and are trustworthy and view their spending as a reflection of their values.

That being said, finding a balance between ideals and economic realities can be challenging. Here are some strategies to consider:

1. Build a mission-driven team. Ensure that your team shares and believes in your mission. When employees are passionate about what they do, they become natural brand advocates. This word-of-mouth promotion can be powerful.

2. Seek funding from like-minded partners. Look for investors who align with your values. These partners not only support your cause but also contribute to brand unity. Working with like-minded investors also reduces the pressure to make purely financial decisions that might compromise your ethical stance.

3. Emphasise transparency. Transparency builds trust. Share the impact of your efforts openly and celebrate achievements, and customers will be more likely to support your cause and invest in your brand.

4. Monitor KPIs. While focusing on purpose is essential, remember that you are running a business. Keep track of performance metrics, set benchmarks, and be ready to make adjustments if you fall short of expectations.


Navigating Brand Purpose: CSR And ESG Unveiled

Whe­n creating a brand purpose, two important factors to consider are CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance).

Essentially, CSR and ESG are two sides of the same coin. Both aim for responsible and ethical business practices, but they focus on different aspects.

Companies engaged in CSR strive to be good corporate citizens by giving back to the community and minimising their negative impact on society. It involves initiatives like philanthropy, community outreach programs, and ethical business practices that go beyond just making profits.

On the other hand, ESG is a broader framework that evaluates a company’s performance in three key areas: Environmental, Social, and Governance. Environmental factors consider how a company interacts with the environment, such as its carbon footprint and sustainable practices. Social factors focus on a company’s relationships with its employees, customers, and communities. Governance assesses the company’s leadership, ethics, and how it manages its internal affairs.

A B Corp (Benefit Corporation) follows the broader ESG framework by giving importance to environmental, social, and governance aspects in its business operations.

Wondering what exactly a B Corp is? It’s a certification that shows a business is meeting high standards of proven performance, accountability and transparency. This includes factors like employee benefits, charitable giving, supply chain practices and input materials. Ultimately, B Corps don’t just focus on making money; they look at their impact on the environment through sustainable practices. They also care about building positive relationships with employees and communities in the social aspect.


Want to Make a Difference? We Can Help

Today, customers crave brands that stand for something and make a positive impact.

Social justice and brand purpose can mean many different things, and if you need a hand defining -or communicating yours – we’d love to help.

As brand strategists, we specialise in helping you pinpoint and communicate your brand’s ‘why.’ Having trouble nailing down your brand strategy and putting your purpose into words? Drop us a line.

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