My journey to discovering brand purpose
In the past 12-18 months, we have seen an increase in the level of attention paid to the subject of brand purpose.
However, ‘purpose’ has almost become one of those words that everybody uses and yet nobody really understands. And nobody dares to admit it. But I had to. I have recently started working with a client where purpose matters, so I suddenly found myself paying attention. Not wanting to just sound like a connoisseur in the matter but actually be one, I started to do my homework.
I visited the marketing websites and read the research but I only got more confused. Instead of finding a definition I could only find reasons on why brand purpose should or shouldn’t be a thing.
The ‘should be a thing’ advocates say that there is increased demand for purpose from younger consumers such as Millennials and Gen Z. In short, these days doing good is good business. In a market where near total transparency has been diligently curated by social media, and we are inundated daily with hundreds of products and ads, we are now looking closer at what brands do and say, not just what they sell.
On the flip side, team ‘brand purpose shouldn’t be a thing’ is adamant that companies are monetising social causes when actually a brand’s real purpose is to make money. Some brands, critics say, are just adding a social cause to a sales message and calling it a purpose. Should brands just forget about doing good, and simply stick to what they know best: creating desire for their products by talking about their USPs?
Cutting through all the pros and cons, what surfaced was the understanding that brand purpose seems to be a reason for a brand to exist without making profit.
But when did making money become a bad thing? Even charities have to make money to survive.
For me, making money shouldn’t be contradictory to being good. From a straightforward revenue point, companies using purpose well are creating value for customers, which increases sales and generates financial returns for shareholders.
These companies also provide employees with a sense of meaning and fulfilment. Happy employees are more dedicated to doing a good job, which leads to the business doing well in the long run.
In conclusion, as long as the brand’s purpose is meaningful, has longevity and brings an improvement to the world, it doesn’t really matter to me if it makes money. As a millennial, I know I’d rather buy something from a brand with a purpose than without. And surely that’s the whole point?