Brand purpose is a hot topic, and not a day goes by without seeing some brand marketer or agency rep in the media announce the virtues of having a unifying brand purpose for your organisation.
Brand purpose is the reason your brand exists. It’s not to make money - that’ll be a by product of what you do. And it’s not to innovate - that’s just a method for getting an answer. Your purpose could be to make your clients wealthy, to cure cancer, or solve the energy crisis. It could be to make work better for everyone, make a home a home, or to provide entertainment. Your brand purpose doesn’t have to be cause led, but it does have to be case led. Your brand purpose is the reason you do what you do. It determines the way that you do it, and it is what makes you meaningfully different from everyone else. You have a brand purpose already, you probably live it every day, and it’s likely to be instinctive. But maybe you just haven’t given it any thought?
I mentioned in a recent post that in the majority of brands we engage with, their organisations purpose is already known but rarely recognised and never articulated. It’s a vital exercise that supports small companies as they scale, and large conglomerates to simplify in a smart and practical way.
The main problem with doing this is that most organisations are complex, and it can be notoriously difficult to simplify what they do. Many business leaders think their brand purpose should be a strap line. And brand purpose now sits squarely in the box of marketing hyperbole.
So we thought we’d help out by focussing on why having clarity around your brand purpose is useful and how you can go about defining it.
You can start by constructing your brand DNA. These simple workstreams provide a useful platform to capture the information. There’s a method to each one and you don’t have to undertake every part, but the more detail you feed in at the start, the more robust your future strategy will be.
1. Get your head out of the sand
Start by having a look around. Review your market. This can include:
- Looking into your audiences
- Reviewing your competition
- Spotting market trends.
You can conduct simple and regular research that informs your SWOT and PEST analysis in a more robust way. And you can do this in large scale tracking studies or using simple survey. As part of this you can find out what your competitors are offering their customers, and reference this against how you serve your customers needs. A simple matrix that is regularly updated and shared will uncover vital insights for future opportunities to grow. They’re easy to visualise, share with colleagues and use to inform your future NPD and proposition work.
Separately this work can also be an excellent foundation for plotting your customers journey which highlights every touchpoint in their buying cycle. For example we recently discovered that the average car buyer in the UK has 900 interactions digitally before making a purchase. This type of information lays out all the moments when you can engage with them, drawing them in by disrupting their decision path. You can chart this using empathy maps.
2. Work out who you are
I don’t mean give yourself a label, like car dealership or a cleaning company. I mean properly review what you do and how it serves your market. It’s vital when assessing the value your product or service brings people, and in turn helps you find out who your ideal customer should be.
Bringing this to life by creating pen portraits for your audience that can be distilled into persona’s for your customers is a really simple and effective technique. It helps your internal teams and agencies recognise your ideal customer. It also helps make communication planning much more efficient because you can reference each persona against their needs at every stage of the customer journey. This will enable you to stay on point when you’re presenting yourself, the features of your product or service and the benefits and value it brings. You can also learn from and improve your future offerings in context of your customers wants and needs. This is a really practical approach that will help surface your brand purpose from a place of realism and likely expectation.
3. Agree your purpose
Your brand purpose and all subsequent service and product propositions should fall out from steps 1 and 2 and you can summarise them on a page. It’s really simple to do, and you can road test it quite quickly with staff, customers, even in market. You can use workshops, focus groups, online surveys even pay per click ads if relevant.
4. Deciding how to behave
How far you wish to go in underpinning your brand purpose and articulating it will depend on the level of investment you want to make and the complexity of what you do and who you are serving. Archetypes are a great expression of you personality. Although high level, they can help you decide your place in the market, your tone of voice, your campaign tactics and content strategies. Supporting this with a useful set of brand values that are demonstrable in how you do business, as well as being a reflective articulation of who you are is a credible way to build your culture with your people on board and your customer at the centre of your organisation. Your brand values won’t be unique, but how you live up to them will set you apart from everyone else.
Sammy Mansourpour, Managing director at AgencyUK.