Brand purpose, in popular marketing literature, is defined as ‘a higher order reason for a brand to exist than just making a profit.’ It signifies the reason for the existence of a brand beyond the purpose of making money. Simply put, a company’s brand purpose helps the company to build a deeper, emotional connection with its consumer, enabling the customers to know the ‘why’ of the company. Dove is a great example of a company with a brand purpose. Going beyond just selling soaps and hygiene products, Dove aims to help women gain confidence and celebrate their beauty. The company’s latest campaign film, #StopTheBeautyTest, highlights how women are judged on their looks by society, which eventually affects their self-esteem and questions the beauty standards and ideals set for women. The campaign film captures the true and raw emotions and vulnerabilities of every woman in society through the portrayal of real women, and not actors in the film.
Why is it important to have a brand purpose?
- Attracting talent
Several surveys have proven that everyone – from Boomers to Millennials to Gen Z – prefers working at a company where their work contributes more than just profits. People wish to be associated with causes that have a deeper value and meaning than just money-making. This instils a sense of purpose within people, where they feel that their work matters and what they are doing is making a difference.
- Driving business
When consumers trust a brand and its purpose, they are more likely to trust the brand. This helps companies to establish a customer base and drive business. Keith Weed, CMO of Unilever, publicly stated that the highest performing brands in their portfolio (growing twice the speed of the others) are purpose-driven brands.
- Customer recognition
Brands that have a purpose are likely to get recognized by customers and build a relationship based on trust and emotions. Brand purpose helps customers to connect with the brand and champion their cause. The “Strength of Purpose” study by the Zeno Group revealed that when customers think a brand has a strong purpose, they are 4 times more likely to purchase from the brand, 6 times more likely to protect the company against public criticism, 4.5 times more likely champion the brand and recommend it to their friends and family, and 4.1 times more likely to trust the company.
What can cause companies to change their brand purpose?
Brands can change their purpose due to multiple reasons – stagnancy, change in the internal or external market landscape, etc. Lately, many companies have either changed or redefined their purpose during the COVID-19 pandemic. There has been a significant shift from a ‘me’ to a ‘we’ centric approach as many companies have extended a helping hand, understanding the grave situation that humanity, as a whole, is currently facing. The pandemic has made companies realize that “this is a time to serve, it’s not the time to sell,” as stated by Raja Rajamannar, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer and President, Healthcare Business, Mastercard.
How can companies change their brand purpose and yet stay true to their brand?
Everyone knows that consistency is the key to success. This also applies to brands when they decide to bring changes within their business. A company can introduce changes, however, it is essential for it to ensure that there is consistency in the way they operate. Inconsistency within the company not only highlights a lack of preparedness but also leads to a disconnect between the customers and the brand.
Companies must stay true and authentic to their values and purpose. It is not enough to just have a company vision, mission and purpose. Brands must truly believe in them and their actions must reflect the same. This should be practiced and inculcated at all times – from the branding to the company culture to the products. Every aspect of the company must stay true and authentic to what the company stands for and believes in.
When companies communicate with their customers, they build a relationship with them. It is always a good idea to reach out to the customers and keep them informed about the new developments within the company. This will also help customers understand how the new brand purpose relates to the company and what it aims to achieve.
The purpose of a brand plays an essential role in conveying what the company believes in and what values and mission the company strives to achieve. Additionally, the brand purpose helps consumers connect with the brand on a deeper level, where they understand the true essence of the brand. This then helps brands to go beyond their name or their product. While establishing a brand purpose may not be the easiest task, it definitely is one of the most integral aspects that brands need to determine.