Protecting, preserving, propelling

Jun 28, 2022
Brand Thought Leadership

The long game of brand purpose

You have a meaningful, purposeful brand – one that employees and customers alike love and feel a sense of belonging to and ownership for. You're all set, right? Not so fast. Building and operationalizing brand purpose are two critical components of the game. The last crucial step is to ensure its success in the long run. So, how do you achieve this?

Build, check, recheck, evolve

In our second blog post, “A renewed hope,” we stated our belief that a purpose-driven brand is powerful because it solves real problems for real people. Over time, the issues that a brand solves will evolve, as will the people they solve them for. A well-stated brand purpose provides a north star to ensure that as the brand marches forward, the purpose that guides it remains a steady and consistent reminder of why they exist and the purpose they serve. Sure, there will always be moments when a brand loses its way, but brand purpose can help find its way back to its most sacred of truths. 

Take Blackberry, for example. It's no secret that the brand has had its fair share of stumbles, mainly when it tried to compete with Apple by launching its comparable but not-well-received Z10 series. One CEO, and huge strategic direction later, the brand found its way back to why it existed in the first place. Arguably, Blackberry was never truly about the phones they made. Instead, they were the unstoppable security that powered them. Moreover, they were about helping people reach their full potential by protecting what's most important. Embracing its true purpose allowed Blackberry to change course and recover. 

Grow your guardians

"The path to purpose is the new path to purchase" – telling words that led off our third blog post, "The key to growth hacking." Building brand purpose is a team sport, as is nurturing it for the long run. As a result, it's essential to identify champions for your brand who act as guardians to ensure every critical decision is made in lockstep with its purpose as the company grows. These folks can and should be found both inside and outside of the organization. Inside the organization, setting up a brand council is a great way to ensure the brand promise holds true. These councils are highly effective because their members are from all aspects of the organization, not just marketing. A council ensures authenticity, with the brand genuinely living what it preaches and confident that the entire company is rowing in the same direction. For any superhero fans, think of this council as the Justice League of your organization. Outside the organization, there's a tremendous opportunity to engage your audiences through ambassador programs. Ambassadors are often dedicated fans and early adopters of your offerings and will be the first line of defense in ensuring your brand follows suit with its purpose. They'll also tell you if you don't. Lululemon does this beautifully through its global and store ambassador programs.

Lululemon, Meet our ambassadors
© Lululemon

Row in the same direction

The larger the organization, the harder it can be to keep everyone on the same page regarding purpose. However, it's an absolute must. One of the classic examples of this is the Steam Whistle brand. Guided by the purpose, "Do one thing, really, really well," Steam Whistle's advertising reflects the power of a singular purpose. While it's always tempting to explore other options in the spirit of diversification (which they have), staying true to purpose makes it very clear what they stand for, to everyone who comes in contact with the brand.  

In our last blog post, "Building brand purpose, on purpose," we discussed the importance of staying "truly true." At the end of the day, doing so means that not only are your most essential stakeholders aligned to your mission, but they honestly believe it and will shout it from the rooftops. An example that still holds up is the employer brand video from adidas. Employees say incredible things about the organization and show different examples of the same brand purpose in action. Row in the same direction, and you get a mighty united voice that can have an incredible impact on organizational growth. 

Walking the talk

At its surface, brand purpose can be as simple as a statement. However, at its core, brand purpose is the foundation for all activities. Strength of this foundation is dependent on how true it is to the company and how well it’s adopted by all stakeholders. Brands must live what they preach and constantly evaluate the meaningful value they are providing to customers. When we, as brand marketers, lead with purpose, we can make a real difference in people's lives and ultimately guarantee success. 



Authors:
Mike Leon, Managing Director, Brand Heroes 
Justin Haberman, Vice President, Client Services, Elemental
Kristina Koprivica, Vice President, Corporate Marketing and Strategy, Kruger Products L.P.
Bruce Symbalisty, Strategic Director, Reality Engine




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