For organisations looking to withstand the test of time, being led by a purpose is critical to building the brand and ensuring that it delivers on its promises over time. Purpose is also important from an authenticity perspective, including a continuous internal evaluation on whether the brand’s positioning is aligned to purpose. In addition, results in the expression of the organisation’s brand promise; an aspect it must always deliver on to build trust both internally and externally. Delivering on this promise always results in the establishment of stakeholder trust, a currency that most organisations strive for to garner loyalty and advocacy.
Let us elaborate further on the importance of a brand purpose.
Your Purpose Informs Organisational Direction
Knowing why the company exists influences its culture; a culture that will hopefully attract the right type of employee who buys into the organisation’s purpose and wholeheartedly contributes to the delivery of experiences that draws loyal customers – who with time become advocates for the brand, and aid in the recruitment of the business’ next generation of customers through word of mouth referrals.
Unilever’s purpose over the last few years has been sustainability; an aspect that is recognized and lived out at both corporate and product level; including committing to environmentally sustainable production processes, educating its stakeholders on the importance of sustainability and emphasizing this purpose through all their communications.
Your Purpose Contributes To Developing A Single-Minded Proposition
A proposition expresses the essence of a brand; it’s ambitious core. It defines why employees get out of bed to work for the organisation and through their employ deliver on this mandate. Whether it be to develop a quality product, offer a revolutionary service and bring about change through championing of a given cause; a proposition serves as the guiding light or moral compass of what an organisation must be doing within the context of effectively satisfying stakeholder needs.
A proposition should speak to a core audience that easily identifies with the company’s cause and readily give of their resources with the perception of gaining through each purchase or interaction. As an example, for customers that buy or use Apple products and services; even though the pricing for the aforementioned is a premium when compared to competing brands, customers who believe in Apple feel they’re gaining through purchase more than the company selling the product to them.
If the customer feels that they’re gaining through the purchase, it builds loyalty, fosters advocacy and in most cases, results in these customers recruiting your next set of customers through referrals. This free advertising is priceless because the organisation’s customer acquisition cost is greatly reduced with little conviction needed to get them to try out their product or service.
Trust between customer and company is a currency that most organisations should drive for as it delivers returns that far outweigh the costs. This trust is established through the development of a single-minded proposition that is aided by a clear purpose on why the organisation exists.
Your Purpose And Proposition Determine Your Brand’s Values And Behaviours
Knowing why you exist and what your organisation stands for informs how you should behave and the values the company should uphold. As an example, if your organisation is driven by an innovative purpose, inquisition should stand out as one of its behaviours. Curiosity results in the organisation always asking “what if?” questions; constantly challenging the status quo to develop a next frontier product or service that will contribute to improving stakeholder’s lives.
In addition, purpose and proposition also determine why an organisation upholds given values. As an example, for a financial service company, integrity is paramount. As a customer, I need to know that I am giving my money to an organisation of repute, with a proven track record of delivering on their promise in a professional manner. A dial down of this value for a financial services provider, raises eyebrows and leaves prospective customers in a state of nervousness that often results in them not taking the risk of trying your organisation’s products and services out.
I will, however, point out that the more values become common, the more they become hygiene factors. As they become hygiene factors, it becomes difficult for the organisation to differentiate themselves around these table stakes. In markets where competition continues to intensify, values and behaviours should contribute to an organisation standing out when compared to their rivals.
One way to develop this deepened understanding is to build your values around a longer-term purpose that is future-focused. A visionary purpose builds layers of understanding for the organisation that extend the present; including an appreciation of the past to clearly define the company’s position in the future. By outlining what the future holds for the entity, the values are easy to develop; including the emphasis of how these values are different to your competition.
Your Values And Behaviours Influence Designing And Delivering Equity Building Experiences
Building a strong brand is always done with the end in mind. To better understand the importance of brand it has become critical to often refer to the outcomes. Outcomes should not be confused with output. Outcomes are largely linked to treating brands as organisational assets that can be exploited to contribute to revenue growth, profitability realization and reduced operating expenditure (marketing in particular) over a period of time.
I’m not sure if this is true, but legend has it that Apple does not spend a lot on marketing when compared to its competitors. Apple is considered one of the standout brand-led organisations that invested a great amount of time fostering stakeholder buy-in through a clear and concise articulation of what the organisation is and is not; including the benefits of experiencing the organisation’s products and services and the company building more equity through exceeding expectations by delivering on its promises.
Through the synthesis of underlying values, the organisation defines its behavior and this behavior is converted into action; expressing how the brand should speak, look and make them feel through each interaction. The more satisfying the feeling, the greater the chances of the customer trying out your product or service on their next purchase.
If the purchase is more gratifying than the first experience, they’re likely to start speaking about it and invite others to partake in the experience on their next purchase. This could, in turn, result in the invited person inviting their own set of people to partake in your organisation’s product and services on their own next purchases, and so on…
As this happens, your organisation is fulfilling on its mandate to grow revenue, deliver profits and reduce operating (customer acquisition) costs. The end result does, thus, suggest that brand is important for any organisation looking to grow and progress in a future-fit manner. Brand is leveraged to develop frameworks that prioritise critical touchpoints that ensure the delivery of experiences, that will push customers to try your product and / or service; again and again and again.
In addition, brand can also be leveraged to develop frameworks that are centred around obtaining internal stakeholder buy-in. This engagement is beneficial to the organisation over the longer term through reduced turnover and an established consistency when it comes to the delivery of external experiences. Google is an organisaton that has one of the lowest turnover rates based on internal experiences that are geared towards keeping them at the organisation for longer. Retaining staff results in a higher innovation quotient that ultimately contributes always delivering exceptional returns from a shareholder return viewpoint.
A synthesis of purpose, enables an informed definition of positioning, values, behaviours, and essence; leading to an effective presentation of a brand and what it represents to relevant stakeholders – particularly the target audience.
A well-defined essence that is perfectly aligned to the organisation’s reason for existence also contributes to an ease of translation on what the brand should look like, what it should say, and how it should say it to its target audiences.
The determined look and feel transitions into determining the experiences the brand should deliver, and the internal and external culture it should propagate.
An enabling culture results in loyalty and advocacy.
Loyalty and advocacy, in turn, result in brand delivering on its classification as an asset that effectively contributes to revenue growth (retention of existing and recruitment of new customers through advocacy), profitability growth (reduced customer acquisition costs over time), and cost reduction (declining marketing spend based on ‘free’ word-of-mouth advertising from existing customers).