Brand purpose is omnipresent.
Starbucks pays for its employees’ college tuition, Bombas donates socks to homeless shelters, and Love Your Melon donates half its profits to give beanies to children battling cancer in America.
So if you’re in charge of a brand, you might be wondering, “Should my brand have a brand purpose?”
According to a study by Kantar Consulting, brands driven by a purpose grow twice as fast as other brands – and they connect better with today’s consumers. It isn’t enough to simply exist to make a profit anymore; consumers want to do business with brands that have an authentic purpose.
But understanding the meaning behind a brand purpose and how to implement it with your company is only one part of the equation; brands also need to recognize why they want to have a purpose and how it impacts the entire business as well as customers.
Let’s look at these factors to determine if your brand should have a purpose.
What is Brand Purpose?
Brand purpose is the reason behind everything a business does: why it makes a product, what it does with the profits, how it communicates with the world and its customers, and the commitment it has to a particular cause.
If we look at Bombas – an online, upscale sock company – we can see the entire brand is built around a single initiative: providing people at homeless shelters with new socks. When Bombas founders discovered shelters wouldn’t accept used socks (for hygiene reasons), they wanted to address the issue. Today, for every one pair of socks sold, Bombas donates one pair of socks to a shelter or other community organization.
The company’s purpose is evident in their messaging:
But just because brands with a purpose have been successful doesn’t necessarily mean your brand needs to have a purpose to be successful. So how can you determine if that sense of purpose is a good thing, or not, for your company?
Think About Why You Want a Brand Purpose
Do you only want to define a purpose for your brand because it’s “the thing to do?” Or do you genuinely have a cause that matters to you, and that you can support and positively impact?
When it comes to brand purpose, authenticity is king. People can smell an imposter from miles away, so it’s in your best interest to only establish a brand purpose if it’s really where your heart lies. Brand purposes must be honest and transparent because anything that doesn’t measure up to genuine will get called out.
If you want a brand purpose because you want to make a change in the world, then perhaps this approach is for you. If you want to exist for more than commercial reasons, then your brand could benefit from a brand purpose.
But before you start on the “how,” you must ask yourself the “why.”
Consider How It Impacts Your Business and Customers
Brands with a purpose can have a profound impact on their communities as well as their customers. These brands set the stage for change and have the opportunity to recruit people around them to be a part of the solution.
Yet your business must exist around this purpose – every division, every process, and every person. This can take considerable resources, including your own time, to support and promote the cause. And while establishing a brand purpose can certainly appeal to consumers, it can also alienate others.
Obviously, the overarching goal with any brand purpose is to make a change for the greater good, but being prepared is a smart move for any business.
Plan, Launch & Be the Purpose
If you talk over your ideas with the team and decide your brand should have a brand purpose, then your next step is to plan how you will identify, announce, and support it.
Once you launch your plans, you will need a long-term agenda for getting the word out and continually driving the purpose. That could mean social media strategies, paid advertising, live events, webinars, podcasts, or any other media that makes sense for your audience.
Finally, your brand purpose is a living, breathing part of your business. Welcome people into the fold who want to be a part of your mission – even if they aren’t customers. After all, your main goal with a brand purpose is to use your platform to positively influence the people around you, engage them in a campaign that matters more than your business, and fuel that mission with the passion and energy of your very special tribe.
Sheila Hart-O’Connor is a word geek who is passionate about all things digital. She specializes in advertising and marketing copy, with a lean toward SEO, social media, and blogging.