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The Real Purpose of Purpose: Elevate your brand beyond the buzzwords

June 21, 2024
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The Real Purpose of Purpose: Elevate your brand beyond the buzzwords

Ah, "purpose." The magical word that promises to turn a mundane brand into a beacon of societal good, a call to arms for conscientious consumers, and a ticket to unparalleled loyalty and market share. But hold your applause, folks—this isn't a magic trick, and your customers aren’t that easy to fool. Let’s talk about the real purpose of purpose, the deeper value it holds for your brand, and how to avoid falling into the trap of purpose washing.

The Deeper Value of Purpose-Driven Brands

Purpose is the soul of your brand, influencing every decision from product development to customer service. It’s about a genuine commitment to positive impact—socially, environmentally, and economically. It is also about the actual purpose of your brand in the lives of your consumers… your Why.

ROI Beyond the Bottom Line

1. Trust and Loyalty: Authentic, meaningful purpose inspires trust. Customers stay loyal and even pay a premium for brands they believe in. Trust is the new currency of business, earned by walking the walk.

2. Employee Engagement: A purpose-driven culture motivates employees, reduces turnover, and attracts top talent. People want to work where they feel they’re making a difference.

3. Market Differentiation: Purpose helps you stand out in a crowded market. It’s not just about being different or socially engaged with a hot button issue; it’s about being meaningful while consistently and authentically resonating with like-minded customers.

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Purpose Washing

Purpose washing—pretending to care or worse yet thinking you care without creating meaningful positive impact—won’t cut it. Consumers have a keen eye for inauthenticity. Here’s how to ensure your purpose is genuine:

1. Align Actions with Words: If you claim to care about the environment, or about solving a problem in your customers lives, then ensure your entire operations reflect that. Use trackable, sustainable materials, reduce waste, and be transparent. Design your product to be effective not just profitable.

2. Be Specific and Concrete: Avoid vague promises. Demonstrate exactly how you’re making a difference in their lives or their world with real stories and measurable impacts.

3. Engage in Continuous Improvement: Purpose is a journey, not a destination. Regularly review and improve your practices. Ensure positive impact.

4. Involve Your Community: Invite customers and employees to be part of your initiatives. Their involvement adds layers of authenticity.

Ensuring Your Purpose Aligns with RealImpact

It’s easy to jump on the latest trend about a sympathetic cause that looks good in social feeds. Or to design your product or service in a vacuum that does not reflect your customers actual needs. But genuine purpose requires more. You must ensure your purpose aligns with real, measurable impact—not just a trendy, feel-good narrative. Here’s how:

1. Assess Real Needs: Evaluate the actual needs of the customers, communities or causes you aim to support. Are you addressing a genuine issue or need, or are you aligning your business model with a trend that offers minimal real-world benefit?

2. Measure Impact: Implement robust metrics to track your initiatives' impact. Data-driven insights will help to reveal whether your efforts are making a tangible difference or just creating a superficial feel-good effect. Data is not the complete solution but it helps.

3. Stay True to Your Core: Ensure your purpose aligns with your brand’s core competencies and values. Genuine purposes would stem naturally from what your brand is about and its real value, not from what’s currently popular or what might be more profitable to produce.

4. Seek External Validation: Partner with reputable organisations and seek third-party validation to ensure your efforts are making a real impact. This adds credibility and demonstrates a serious commitment to your purpose.

Walking the Walk: Real-World Inspiration

Wether its brands like Patagonia living and breathing environmentalism Ben & Jerry’s takes a strong stance on social justice issues TOMS revolutionizing the way businesses think about giving back integrating purpose seamlessly into their business model.

Purpose as a Guiding Star 

In the end the real purpose of your Purpose is to be your brand’s guiding star, leading to decisions that create real value for your customers, employees, and the world. It’s about authenticity, integrity, and a commitment to making a difference. Before launching that heartfelt mission statement or noble-sounding campaign, ask yourself—are we truly walking the walk? Can we be transparent about this? Is our purpose aligned with real impact? If yes, you’re on the path to building a brand that not only stands out but stands for something truly meaningful… an essential part of success and ROI for a brand.

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