Marketing Brand Purpose Brand Strategy

The art of brand building and powerful purpose

By Abby Cooper |

February 15, 2022 | 7 min read

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Once upon a time, marketers would strategize based on the technical features and benefits of their product or service, integrating the user experience and journey. By today’s standards, we’ve come a long way to see brands creating and building powerful purpose.

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Having a strong brand purpose in today’s saturated ad market will reinforce your brand

While the shift towards purposeful marketing might be a radical change for the industry, brand purpose is a gauge of the current market and its consumers, potentially outdating brand positioning.

We discuss the art of brand purpose and the retailers who are already making an impact.

The benefits of purpose-led branding

A market crowded with established brands and innovative competitors; it can seem impossible to penetrate an oversaturated market. Modern customers are no longer looking for the ‘best value for price’ product or service, a brand's purpose sets them apart and builds loyalty.

Creating a powerful purpose adds value to the lives of customers and society. Brands can use their spotlight to highlight societal or human issues, which will only benefit the consumer. Certain brands are already addressing certain issues such as body dysmorphia, sustainability, food waste and equality.

Purpose sets the brand apart from competitors. It allows retailers to connect with their consumer on a personal level, as they can see themselves in the brand. This will ultimately lead to a longer, more valuable relationship with the brand and consumers are more likely to shop again and stay loyal to those who are purpose-led.

Eight out of 10 consumers say they’re more loyal to purpose-driven brands.

As well as setting the brand apart in a busy marketplace, it provides clarification and strong corporate culture. Most retailers who commit to brand purpose, uphold the same values for their culture and wellbeing.

For example, cosmetics brand Lush (BOSCO™ Index: 710) is an ethical brand with a purpose to end animal testing. Its mission-driven culture empowers and rewards its team.

Brands who have already adopted purpose are already benefiting from the change. In a recent report by Kantar, brands recognized for high commitment for purpose have grown at 2x the rate of others.

Why brand purpose is important in today’s market?

Meaningful changes in consumer mindsets and habits that emerged as a by-product of the pandemic indicate preferences for purpose will continue and perhaps accelerate.

With the rise of the ‘conscious consumer’, who considers the social, environmental, ecological, and political impact of their purchases - retailers need to take this into consideration when positioning their brand.

This could range from sustainability to corporate activism. 64% of consumers said that they would boycott, avoid, or switch brands based on its stand on societal issues.

With climate changes and views on the environment shifting rapidly, sustainability is a key area for brands to explore. 81% of consumers have said that they are more likely to choose a brand with a positive approach to environmental sustainability, showing a clear development in consumer attitudes towards a business’s approach to the environment.

Brand purpose campaigns generally underperform compared to traditional advertising but for the right brands, purpose will still be the most effective strategic choice.

Having a strong brand purpose in today’s saturated ad market will reinforce your brand and underpin any additional marketing campaigns.

“Your marketing spend will convert much faster to sales if it’s focused on creating a distinctive brand that stands out and comes to mind first at those moments of need,” said Ian Wilson, on the value of marketing fundamentals in a digital age.

This isn’t a new trend, brand purpose was on the rise before the pandemic but has since been reshaped by customer values and behavior, making it more prominent and widespread.

Brands who lead with purpose

In 2004, Unilever’s Dove (BOSCO™ Index: 735) launched the ‘Real Beauty’ campaign to represent women in advertising. The campaign features untouched photographs of real women, who aren’t models, to reflect the diversity of the population.

Since launching the campaign, sales for Dove have jumped from $2.5 to $4bn. It has also won two advertising awards, including the best campaign in the US of the past 20 years.

Drinks company Innocent (BOSCO™ Index: 691) has had sustainability at the forefront of its brand since it was established, but in 2003 launched its ‘Big Knit’ campaign. Partnered with Age UK, volunteers knit tiny hats for the top of Innocent drinks. With each bottle sold, a small percentage is donated to the charity.

The Body Shop (BOSCO™ Index: 740) has always had a strong sense of purpose and is a catalyst for change, driven by founder Anita Roddick back in the 1980s and 1990s. Its ‘enrich not exploit’ campaign has always focused on the environment.

It has since put activism at the heart of its purpose, turning stores into ‘activist hubs’ where staff will be encouraged to run local activism projects.

What the BOSCO™ Index tells us about building a strong brand and purpose?

The BOSCO™ Index maps out a retailer based on their organic and paid presence, compared to their closest competitors. An average score is around 600, retailers achieving 690+ are high performers.

The Body Shop’s Index of 740 puts it over 10% higher than its closest competitors. A big indicator of how important brand purpose is to the brand, it now boasts a ‘global head of activism’. In a recent interview, she said: “we feel activism and purpose is our unique selling point.”

As we collectively brace for the big shift in value and a new generation of consumers, one of the most powerful ways retailers can prepare is by clarifying their purpose. As we’ve seen, purpose-driven brands have seen remarkable growth and are in pole position going into 2022.

Find out your BOSCO™ score

Want to find out where you stack up on the BOSCO™ Index? Let us generate your BOSCO™ score – it's the first step in understanding how you’re currently performing in your market. Visit our website to find out more and discover your score, or book a demo with us.

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