A purpose-driven brand strategy can help your business stand out and connect better with the right customers. Learn how to define your brand purpose statement today!
Each morning, I wake up and don’t recognize anything more than just blobs of color.
It’s only when I put my eyeglasses on, that I’m not stumbling around in a fuzzy blur. 🤓
(If you have a strong prescription like me, you know what I’m talking about.)
I rely on the power of those lenses to keep my eyes focused and seeing clearly all the time. Without them, I can’t navigate where I’m going.
Think of it in the same way for your brand purpose.
You don’t want to have to “squint” to try and see through creating a successful, fulfilling future for your business brand.
Your purpose is a powerful lens that will help you make the best decisions for building your brand with clarity and confidence—from operations to customer experience to marketing, and more.
Let’s get into it. In this article, I’m covering:
- What exactly is brand purpose?
- Why does a business need a purpose?
- Finding your brand purpose with 7 questions
- Best brand purpose examples (for inspiration)
Brand purpose is the first step in developing your brand strategy.
Yes, it can be challenging – but definitely doable if you ask yourself the right questions!
Do you feel like you’re struggling with your brand purpose and don’t know where to start?
You’re not alone.
It’s been found that only 1 in 10 businesses have a purpose statement and a plan to back up their beliefs throughout everything they do.
But here’s the thing:
A study by Harvard Business Review states that defining and upholding a meaningful brand purpose can positively affect all these areas of your business:
- Inspiring innovation, creativity, and change
- Creating more value for the customer
- Increasing customer loyalty and referrals
- Providing employees with a sense of meaning and fulfillment
- Attracting the right talent for your team
- Making an impact on society or your community
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Sometimes, your purpose is not an easy thing to document without some digging and insight into who you are as an entrepreneur.
And when you hear the word ‘purpose’, your mind might automatically go towards thinking you need to save the world or humankind.
This might surprise you:
A brand doesn’t necessarily have to be philanthropic, non-profit, or cause-based to make a difference or have an impact.
Your business is solving a problem with intention and that makes a world of difference!
Business brands with purpose can make an impact by relieving pain points for people and connecting with emotion about why they exist and what they stand for.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt if you’re tying in a social purpose to your branding.
Ultimately, a successful purpose-driven brand will create a strong bond with the right audience because it sees customers as more than just buyers.
And it shows customers that your business is much more than just products, services, or marketing campaigns.
Your brand purpose is a powerful lens that will help you make the best decisions for building your business with clarity and confidence—from operations to customer experience to marketing, and more.Click To Tweet
Senior managing director at Accenture, Bill Theofilou, said this about brand purpose:
“Companies that stand for something bigger than just what they sell typically deliver higher levels of commercial success because they mean much more to their customers.”
To put it simply:
Purpose and profit go hand-in-hand.
What’s more, the consumer mindset is really shifting.
A great product or service, at a great price, with great features…is just not enough.
Research shows that people are making decisions based on what a brand says, does, and stands for.
People will actually support brands whose brand purpose aligns with their beliefs—because that’s what matters to them!
Image source: Accenture
52% of consumers say they are more attracted to buy from certain brands over others if these brands stand for something bigger than just the products and services it sells, which aligns with their personal values. (Accenture, 2018)
When you make it about customers or clients, and not about yourself, it’s easier to find and define your purpose.
Your brand purpose can help you stand out.
Let’s go into the real what, why, and how behind brand purpose so that you can get motivated to build a brand around yours.
Plus, I’ll give you some examples of brand purpose for inspiration.
Shall we get started?
First of all, the brand purpose definition:
What is brand purpose?
Brand purpose is the reason your business exists beyond making money.
Sounds simple, right?
Yet many entrepreneurs and established companies can have difficulty putting their finger on this – for years.
To grasp purpose in general, well-known leadership expert, Simon Sinek, says that businesses should fundamentally “Start With Why”. ⬅️ read his book
His world-renowned TED Talk further supports his ideas below (press play to watch).
The circle is separated into three concentric parts from the outside in:
- What – the products or services you offer to your customers (surface)
- How – the things that differentiate you from the competition (middle)
- Why – the reason you are passionate and why you exist (core)
Sinek essentially says:
…Every business knows WHAT they do.
…Some know HOW they do it – their value.
…Very few know WHY they do what they do.
But it’s this core of the “Why” that pulls your audience in with emotion based on what you believe and stand for.
Most businesses communicate from a surface level. They lead with What they do.
The inspiring and most profitable brands like Apple – lead with Why they do it.
It results in long lines out the door on the day a new product launches, and a cult-like following.
What is Apple’s brand purpose?
To empower creative exploration and self-expression.
A concise and impactful statement.
This is infused into every single thing that Apple does – their products, service, messaging, store experience, advertising campaigns, etc.
The result is a consistent, cohesive, and extraordinary experience for consumers.
Think about how influential that purpose statement is within Apple’s overall brand ecosystem. Their signature products are named:
All of these things begin with “I”…the individual having the power of these “things” in their hands to explore their own creative mind and self-expression.
In addition, Apple fans subscribe to “Think Different” and to challenge the status quo; not solely to buy a computer, tablet, or mobile phone.
According to Forbes, Apple is the world’s most valuable brand for the ninth straight year, worth $240 billion, and ranked above both Google and Amazon.
Do you know WHY you get out of bed every morning, thirsting to solve people’s problems?
It’s in there, under the surface – I know it.
We’re going to get into how to figure out your brand purpose a bit later, but the Golden Circle is a great start.
“True purpose is lived from the inside out.”
To sum it up:
What is a brand purpose? It’s leading with your Why.
Now, you might also be wondering:
Is brand purpose the same as mission and vision?
The simple answer is no. Mission and vision are both fundamental statements that align with purpose but describe different things.
Here are the differences between the related brand statements that you can develop to explain who your brand is to the world:
Purpose – Why you exist beyond making money
Vision – What future you want to help create
Mission – How you create that future you envision
Values – What you believe in and stand for
If your vision is where the company is headed and your mission is what it does to get there, brand purpose articulates what that direction is all about.
Brand Purpose definition:
Brand purpose is the reason a business exists beyond making a profit. It is a way to communicate the contribution a brand makes to the world, and what impact that contribution has on people.
Why do brands need a purpose?
A defined brand purpose creates connections.
The connection between you and your business, the connection with your employees, and the connection with your customers.
Studies show that connections with people through shared beliefs and values happen with having a clear purpose.
This becomes sticky and can create massive growth.
Furthermore, when there are multiple businesses out there providing a similar product, service, process, features, or benefits – a brand purpose can be your competitive advantage.
When you lead with the core Why, you have a better chance at sharing a unique perspective and reason for existing.
Brand purpose narrows down the playing field. It eliminates those companies that get stuck presenting their value with their surface-level product or service.
And it can help you stand out when your brand experience and business operations center around purpose-led decisions.
Now the million-dollar question:
How do you develop a brand purpose?
I’ll help you get started (but you’ll have to answer some questions, of course).
Find Your Brand Purpose in 7 Questions
Developing purpose is an integral part of your brand strategy.
As a reminder, brand strategy is a plan that focuses on the long-term development of your purpose and emotional impact so that you can grow your business. Every brand needs one.
SEE ALSO – Brand Strategy: A Proven 5-Step Process To Help You Stand Out
As you’ve read so far, it’s important to know your What and How, but to lean into and lead with your Why.
And that might mean starting the process by asking yourself “Why”?
Why do you do what you do?
I know –
Literally asking “why” can sometimes feel existential or put you on the defensive.
So let’s flip the ‘start with why’ script this time.
Remember the Golden Circle from above?
Start from the outside because you already know it well.
First, outline WHAT it is that your business does. What products, what services…what do you actually sell to people?
Next, define HOW you do it differently. This can take some thinking, or competitor research to really figure out. For now, write down how you feel you deliver solutions in a way that stands out from the other options people have. It could be your value, your process, your secret sauce.
Then, let’s just take the whole WHY out of the equation (what!) and reframe your brand purpose discovery questions so that there isn’t so much pressure, shall we?
Come up with answers to questions like the ones below.
1. What led you to start your business?
It could be something that impacted you from your past, a positive or negative experience, having a realization, a problem needing to be solved.
Think about the things that brought you to where you are today. Dig deep to find the reason (and “I need to make money” shouldn’t be it).
2. What are your unique strengths?
In order to stand out as a brand, you’ll have to differentiate. Outline how your business is not the same as competitors or other options out there.
Strengths could be something proprietary, a process, experience, abilities, or more. Just remember: unique.
3. What would you like to be known for?
Write out what your ideal customer or client would say in a detailed, glowing testimonial. Then, choose the most impactful ideas that capture your brand.
Take it a step further and distill it down into ONE idea.
4. What problems are you trying to solve?
Go deeper than the surface-level product or service that you provide. Describe the value, benefit, outcome, or transformation that you can provide for people.
Does this ripple out to future generations? Does it affect society or the environment as well?
5. What do you want to change about the world?
There’s likely a problem in the world that exists for you to solve.
Describe what you bring to the table to help alleviate this problem if you could solve it for all your ideal customers/clients. Share your perspective on the solution.
6. What do you want to change about your industry?
When you started your business, you wanted to do something different. Perhaps it is because a solution just didn’t exist. Maybe the current companies providing solutions are not hitting the mark.
Describe how you would make an industry change if you could snap your fingers.
7. What change do your customers want to see?
People want companies to impact not only their lives but their community, society, or the world as a whole.
Can you tap into this by understanding their values, beliefs, fears, and desires – and how it aligns with your own?
Before you say it, I will:
That was hard.
Now you’ve done the work to answer the questions and you probably want to know this –
How to write a brand purpose statement
Start organizing your thoughts from the answers above. Look for patterns, themes, or repeated words in what you said.
Simplify. Then simplify some more.
Put together a clear and concise idea statement.
My/Our purpose is to ___[contribution]___ so that ___[impact]___.
Share it with people to get their reactions and feedback.
Make changes if you need to.
Still having trouble nailing brand purpose? It might require a workshop with our branding team, so that the right follow-up questions can be asked in-person and with context to reveal those nuggets of gold.
You may be too close to your business, haven’t dug deep enough, or are still fuzzy on it (we’ll get you those lenses you need).
BRAND STRATEGY MASTERCLASS
Learn to create a powerful blueprint that will transform your business into an extraordinary brand that stands out!
4 Brilliant Brand Purpose Examples
Every successful brand has a powerful purpose behind it. Take a look at some popular brand purpose statement examples below for inspiration.
Warby Parker brand purpose
Make eyewear more affordable.
Here’s where I can tie my eyeglasses metaphor back into brand purpose again.
You can ‘see’ (I can’t help myself) how the Warby Parker brand purpose is expanded upon in their company origin story.
The brand distilled down their entire reason for starting the company into their simple, 4-word brand purpose example noted above.
As written in the opening line, the accompanying Warby Parker mission statement is “to offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially conscious businesses.”
Image source: Warby Parker
Crayola brand purpose
Unleash the originality in every child.
When you think of Crayola, the first thing that comes to mind is crayons. But more importantly, when you think of crayons…your mind likely goes right to Crayola.
They dominate the space in creativity for kids, with their brand essence. However, notice the phrasing in their brand purpose statement. They are not just helping children ‘be creative’ (kind of timid).
They want to be bolder to UNLEASH it and go one step further to qualify creativity as ORIGINALITY.
Remember, word choice is important when crafting your brand purpose.
Image source: Crayola
Dove brand purpose
Help women everywhere develop a positive relationship with the way they look, helping them realize their full potential.
This brand under the Unilever family launched a worldwide campaign in 2004 known as “Real Beauty”, communicating the belief that beauty should be a source of confidence and not anxiety in women and children.
Dove does this by permeating its brand marketing with real women (not models) and messages that build self-esteem and self-confidence.
Image source: Strategyonline.ca
Patagonia brand purpose
Patagonia is in business to save our home planet.
This is one of my favorites, and one of the best brand purpose examples.
“Yvon Chouinard [Patagonia’s founder]…founded the company so that people could explore wild places, which led him to the conclusion that the company should also be in the business of protecting wild places. As the company grew, so did its commitment to protecting wild places, and now everyone is hired because of their commitment to the mission statement.”
Kenna also claims:
“We’ve found that when we put the planet first and do the right things for the planet, it winds up being good for business. It has proven itself over and over again.”
Image source: Thedrum.com
Defining your brand purpose is one of the foundational elements of building an effective, long-term brand strategy.
Can you have a functioning business without one? Yes. But you can end up getting lost in the competition, and can even lose your own direction – both stifling growth.
✅ With a clear brand purpose:
- Decisions are easier to make to reach your business goals.
- You form a stronger relationship with customers.
- You’ll be able to recruit team members who are just as excited as you.
- There’s a clear difference between you and the competitors.
- You begin to future-proof your brand success and growth.
❌ Without a clear brand purpose:
You operate at a surface level where your decisions can be misaligned with the direction you really want to be going.
Take some time to answer the following 7 questions to help you start to find your brand purpose today.
- What led you to start your business?
- What are your unique strengths?
- What would you like to be known for?
- What problems are you trying to solve?
- What do you want to change about the world?
- What do you want to change about your industry?
- What change do your customers want to see?
Then create multiple examples of brand purpose statements to consider.
Once you understand the true intention behind the impact your business can have on the world, you’ll see all kinds of tangible success!
Your turn: what did you learn about your brand purpose?
Share with us in the comments below, or ask us a question!
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