Brand purpose – a reason for being

Although brand purpose might seem like a relatively recent trend, it’s been on the agenda for many years. In the 1960s David W Packard, the founder of Hewlett-Packard, said: “Purpose should not be confused with specific goals or business strategies, which should change many times in 100 years. Whereas you might achieve a goal or complete a strategy, you cannot fulfil a purpose; it’s like a guiding star on the horizon – forever pursued but never reached.”

A ‘guiding star’ is a great way to position your brand purpose. It should be a reason for being. Something that comes from within. To be successful it must be wrapped in authenticity and not something you simply pay lip service to. For a purpose to be truly effective it needs to guide everything a brand does, not just what it says. And when a brand lacks a clear purpose, it lacks direction. And a lack of direction is not good for engagement. Or business.

As a new world evolves, people are looking beyond profit for signals of success. Being good and doing good now run hand in hand. It’s never been so critical to deliver with purpose, act with authenticity and build belief.

Authenticity is key. Cynicism rightly comes from mistrust in businesses jumping on the ‘worthy’ wagon. It’s interesting to look at the purpose statements of many FTSE 100 companies: ‘To live a better today and build a better tomorrow’, ‘To use the power of communication to make a better world’ and ‘To invest for a better future’. You have to ask how many of these are credible and truly embedded into the culture of these big businesses?

When attending a workshop on defining a brand purpose for a leading FTSE organisation, it was clear there was a passion to come up with something inspiring that employees could ‘get out of bed for and rally around’. The issue was that the company wasn’t really in the business of saving the world. It had influence, but it didn’t make the kind of difference that was being suggested. Luckily, the client understood the importance of authenticity, and freely acknowledged that if the narrative over-promised, people would see right through it. We ended up in a better, more relevant and meaningful place.

So, make your brand purpose ownable. Make it easy for every employee to embrace. And make it something that can drive behaviour change by real people in your real world.

Getting your purpose right will give you a powerful engagement weapon for your brand armoury. People will understand what you believe in and will connect with you emotionally. When this happens, engagement can snowball and build long-lasting traction.

If you would like to learn more about how Luminous could help to unearth your purpose, please get in touch: