Know What You Stand for And Why

21st October 2019

Twenty years ago, the concept of purpose-driven brand development was practically unheard of. There were some exceptions, of course, such as Johnson and Johnson who distanced themselves early in the race by adopting a campaign based on inspired leadership.

However, by and large, the generally held belief was that marketing and brand values had nothing to do with one another.

Things have changed dramatically since that time. Companies started to wake up to the possibilities that consumers wanted brands to be more. They wanted to deal with companies that had a purpose, companies that were striving to effect a positive impact in their communities and the world in general.


You must be purposeful

Companies have started realising that having a purpose is essential. Today, there isn’t a marketing consultant alive who wouldn’t recommend clearly defining your company’s purpose. It’s something that is seen as essential these days. 

Clients want companies to be more socially responsible. They want to know that companies are doing more than just making pots and pots of money. 

It seems that this shift was almost inevitable. There is so much interchange of information now that companies have had to become more transparent in their dealings. Thanks to this interconnectivity, it’s easy enough for clients to check up on claims a company has made. 

Companies now need a clearly-defined purpose and a clear-cut path back to their marketing efforts.

What are the benefits of having a clearly defined purpose? 

A company that has a strongly driven purpose is also on a better footing in the business world. People not only want to buy from socially-responsible companies, but they want to work for them as well. If you want the best talent, you must define your purpose clearly. 

Having a clearly defined purpose is an excellent general strategy as well. With it, everyone in the company knows the aims of the business precisely so everyone will be able to work more clearly toward this goal. 

Getting investors for a company with a well-stated purpose could also be easier. If you invested in a company, all other things being equal, would you want to be aligned with a company that has a purpose that fits with your values? Of course, you would. That way you’d know that your money was doing some good.

Of course, if the return at the other company were a lot higher, then you’d have to rethink your position again. 

Can you fake it till you make it? 

Sadly, in this case, no. It might work initially, but you’ll get caught as a charlatan at a later stage. Say, for example, that you want to cash in on the fair trade movement. You could always slap on a label and say that your products are sourced at fair rates. Why spend the money, when you can pretend and get away with it? 

Here’s the thing. At some stage, you’re going to get caught. All it takes is for one person to get curious about where you source your goods. 

When word gets out that your company is less than honest, be prepared for some serious crisis management. There’s no way to put that particular genie back in the bottle. And be prepared for some severe public backlash. The one thing that consumers hate worse than companies that are not socially responsible is those that lie about it. 

So, if you claim that you’re a fair trade business, but you cannot back up your statement, you’re putting your company at risk. If you cannot find your company’s purpose, and back it up with action, then it’s better to move on to another strategy. 

Is this the strategy to end all strategies? 

Not quite yet. Businesses that have taken this strategy to heart have been outperforming those that have not. But it’s not the end of the line in terms of strategy.  Instead, what we’ll start seeing is companies that are learning how to weave purpose into their strategy, and this could help them win.

We’re all still learning in this area. While some companies are clearly crushing it, being a socially-conscious consumer is still relatively new. 

It doesn’t seem likely that purpose-driven branding will represent the finality of marketing strategy. Business practices evolve over time, and we clearly haven’t reached the end of the discussion. We could actually be closer to the beginning of understanding how purpose and strategy come together to impact organisational success.

We have to wonder how far social-consciousness will take the consumer. Sure, today the flavour of the month is for businesses to be fair in their dealings with suppliers. A couple of years ago, companies that were going organic dominated the public’s attention.  

Who knows whether the social injustices that we identify with today will even matter much in the world tomorrow? The problem then becomes finding the issues that will continue to be important in the long term.

Tosier work directly with producers to make sure they are fairly treated

How to choose your purpose

If you’ve read any kind of self-help book over the last decade, you’ll already be clear on what a purpose-driven life is. Self-help gurus gleefully tell us that unless we’re clear on our purpose in life, we’re never going to be happy. 

As a result, many of us have done some soul searching in this area. But let’s be honest, it’s challenging to discover the purpose in our own lives. It’s a lot harder, therefore, to start finding the purpose for our companies and staff as well. 

Where do you start looking? What do you take into consideration? Our suggestion – take a good look at the values that the company is guided by. Does this give any indication of purpose? 

Next up, choose a cause that is important to you and your clients. It should be an issue that you can do something about and something that will matter not just now, but in the future as well. Is there an area that you’re passionate about where you could become a trendsetter?

That first commercial farmer who decided to use organic methods when planting his crops was a forward-thinker. And it must have been scary for him as well. 

After all, if he decided not to spray his crops for pests, and they were decimated, he’d have lost everything. Even a betting man would have been averse to that kind of risk. Looking back now, though, things look very different. 

That first farmer was a trendsetter. It might have seemed nuts at the time, but looking back he looks like a true visionary. 

What are the “organic vegetables” for your company? What could you change that would benefit the community and potentially the world? How could your company become more socially responsible? 

It could be something simple like moving towards more sustainable manufacturing processes. It could be something more complex, like revamping your product design to incorporate recycled materials. 

It doesn’t really matter. What matters is that it needs to be something that: 

• Makes sense for the business

• Is going to make a difference in the community or for the planet

• Will hold up to scrutiny

Now, obviously, choosing something that is going to double your operating costs for no real benefit is nuts. But there are always areas that can be improved in all companies, so you’ll be able to find something with some scrutiny.

Loggique only use natural ingredients, vegetable waxes and non-toxic scents.

What does the future look like for purpose-led companies?   

Need some ideas to get you started? Let’s go through some of the trends that we’ve started to see emerging. 


Reducing waste   

Zero-waste is going to take on a whole new meaning in tomorrow’s world. Consumers have become very vocal about their desire for more sustainable manufacturing processes. Companies need to work to reduce the amount of waste that they actively produce. 

Waste in this sense goes further than just the leftovers of the manufacturing process. We’re also talking about waste in terms of irrelevant marketing messages, product needs, and so forth. Companies will need to learn to streamline operations as much as possible. 

Clients don’t want their time or resources wasted. 

An area that might also come under fire here is wasted effort. Automation is becoming an essential part of keeping the bottom line under control. A company aiming to be zero waste could also adopt the opinion that employing a person to do a simple repetitive task is a waste. 

Brands are looking for partners

They’re also hoping to partner with other brands with similar values. The world is becoming a much smaller place. Consumers are looking for companies that understand that everyone is an individual. Traditionally, a company will create a product based on what it can offer it’s target clients. 

The company then creates a demand for the product. This is the old way of doing things, and a method that is no longer particularly effective. Today’s consumer wants companies to realise what it means to provide products and services to individuals. 

As consumers become more sophisticated, they are expecting companies to offer more tailored solutions. Customer-centricity is not just one way to go; it’s the only way to move forward. If you’re hoping to future-proof your brand, this is your best shot. 

Brands will have to look at creating a more positive impact  

Going forward, it’s not going to be enough to explain what your brand purpose is. You’ll have to be able to prove that your brand is making a real difference, and that means examining the potential impact that your products have throughout their life cycle.

It’s not going to be enough to say, “We used recyclable materials in creating our product.” Brands are also going to have to look at where their products end up when they’ve exceeded their useful lifespan.

So, if you think the move towards social consciousness is going to be over before long, buckle up – it’s going to be a long ride. We’re not going back as a society any time soon. 


Final notes    

Becoming more socially responsible is something that our clients expect of us. But, more than that, it’s the right thing to do. What changes can you make in your business today that could potentially reduce waste or make someone’s life a little better? 

For more information about how you can build a brand with a purpose, take a look at some of the brands we’ve worked with within our projects section. This features brands Loggique and Tosier who are mentioned in this post.

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