• Lindsay Grace Kinniburgh

Is there a formula for building a successful purpose-driven brand?

Updated: Nov 1, 2020

Succeeding in business today requires companies to think beyond profit.

In the current climate, consumers are craving more and are turning towards purpose-driven brands that offer deeper emotional value.

What is a purpose-driven brand?

Businesses and brands have the power to make fundamental changes to our world. Whether it’s the way we address equality and inclusion, assist communities or help protect our environment.

Being a purpose-driven brand means existing beyond the purpose of simply making money. Being purpose-led means combining profit with a greater cause.

Growing with purpose doesn’t mean you have to be a charity or NGO; you can be a for-profit business and put purpose at the heart of your organisation.

But here's the bottom line:

Whatever your reason for being, a purpose-driven brand must operate with integrity and honesty.

Companies today have the responsibility of helping consumers make a kinder global footprint by providing smarter options when it comes to day-to-day products and services.

Tides are turning as purpose-driven brands become the key to business growth, recovery and the way forward in this new era.

Is there a formula for being a successful purpose-driven brand?

Since COVID-19, companies must work harder to meet consumer expectations. Needs and behaviours have changed as consumers look for brands that align with their personal values and stand for something they can get behind and believe in.

Becoming a successful purpose-driven brand requires mastery of four key areas:

  1. Finding your brand purpose

  2. Building brand purpose into your culture

  3. Refining business processes and best practices

  4. Creating purpose-driven marketing communications

How do you find your brand purpose?

For some, finding your brand purpose is easy. Companies like Who Gives A Crap, Patagonia, Toms, Hive and Pickelson Paint were inspired to create a business with purpose embedded in the DNA.

Established companies such as IKEA, H&M and Dove weren't born as purpose-driven brands, however, they've since redefined their business models to become more purpose-led.

Whether you’re a start-up company, small business or established brand, whatever your brand purpose may be, it must fall in line with the nature of your brand and be backed by authenticity.

If you’re not sure how to find your brand purpose, start by looking at what the world needs, what your customers want, what fuels your passion, and what you can deliver.

Here are 3 ways to help you find your brand purpose:

#1 - Ask meaningful questions!

To help find your brand purpose, start by asking important questions such as:

“What is the ultimate goal of my brand?”

“Why does/should this company exist?”

“As a purpose-driven brand, what will success look like?”

“What is the impact I want my brand to have on the world?”

Another question to consider is, “do you believe a purpose-driven brand can really help reboot the current system?”

#2 - Review The SDGs

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), launched by the United Nations in 2015, are an excellent vehicle for driving change.

The SDGs were designed to be a "blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all".

The 17 goals bring attention to a broad range of critical issues and represent an action plan for the planet and society to thrive by 2030.

#3 - Invest in your brand development

The best way to find your true purpose is by investing in a personalised brand purpose workshop.

A professional brand purpose workshop such as the online discovery workshop provided by purpose-driven marketing agency, Outsourced imagination, can help you discover and activate your brand purpose by deep-diving into your ‘why’.

Their purpose programmes are designed to change how business is done - for the better.

The brand-enhancing online workshops can help you can get clear on your core values, brand positioning and identify what you want to be known for and achieve.

They'll show you how to bring stakeholders together, create a compelling brand story and bring your brand promises to life through impactful marketing strategies.

The brand purpose workshop is one of the most important steps you can do to build a business and brand that outperforms the competition and prepares you for a brighter future.

How do you build brand purpose into your culture?

No matter what business you are in, people are your greatest asset. Your people are the key to bringing your brand purpose to life.

The companies that take a people-first approach and unite employees around a clear brand purpose make them feel valued and cared for. Purpose creates environments that foster stronger work-ethics, increased motivation and a deeper sense of meaning for all.

When you tie people to purpose, staff go the extra mile; not because they have to, but because they want to contribute to the organisation's goals.

Today, creating a stakeholder-centred business is more than just a “nice to have,” it’s a sound

business strategy.

According to the 2020 Porter Novelli report, “Nearly nine-in-ten (89%) business leaders today believe companies that lead with purpose have a competitive advantage in today’s marketplace. In fact, 85 per cent agree being a purpose-driven brand drives profit.”

Strong cultures and leaders who behave in purpose-led ways set the tone for the rest of the organisation. Attitudes drive a business forward, which is why stakeholders must have a deep understanding of the brand’s purpose from the get-go.

Good communication is critical in helping employees understand your brand values and deliver your brand promise.

How do you refine processes and best practices to fit with your brand promise?

When building a purpose-driven brand (and to avoid the backlash associated with greenwashing), look for opportunities to improve processes and best practices within your organisation.

Committing to a purpose-first belief is about much more than simply developing a sharable purpose-driven marketing campaign.

It may mean stepping outside of your immediate circle and reviewing your full supply chain.

If your brand promises a sustainable product but the packaging does not meet the same environmental or ethical standard this could result in negative publicity and loss of brand trust.

Outland Denim in Australia is a premium denim brand known for its global mission to fight against human trafficking. To back-up their promises, this purpose-driven brand provides an annual Sustainability Report, which details a unique eco-strategy covering how its employees benefit from a social enterprise business model.

The sustainability report, which is separated into social, environmental and economic impact, is a reflection of the brand’s philosophy that “true sustainability encompasses all three [of these] elements.”

In 2012, IKEA committed to transforming the IKEA business, the industries in the IKEA value chain and life at home for people across the world.

Their aim is to "enable more people to live healthier and more sustainable lives, while at the same time, create a positive impact on people, society and the planet".

Since the commitment, the Swedish furniture manufacturer (turned purpose-driven brand) has continued to grow while reporting a positive decrease in their climate footprint.

When it comes to processes and best practices within your organisation, areas of impact could include: reducing your carbon footprint, reviewing hiring policies, participating in fairtrade, building purposeful partnerships.

Refining your environmental and social impact may seem overwhelming at first. And change is never easy, but moving towards a greater purpose is a journey that's required in order for your company to achieve its full potential.

But here's the best part:

Turning your company into a purpose-driven brand will be worth it!

How do you create impactful purpose-driven marketing communications?

Once you know exactly what you stand for and have complete clarity around your brand story, a purpose-driven marketing strategy outlining specific tactics will direct you on how to share your story with the world.

Success in developing and executing purposeful content requires you to create and deliver content that’s honest and meaningful. Your marketing messages, including your brand story, must feel like an integral part of the brand, not just a one-off.

Here's an example:

In support of this year’s Pride, while some brands showed their support by simply updating their Facebook cover photo, Adidas went the extra mile by launching a new range for the Adidas Pride Collection.

By introducing pride-themed clothing and footwear including rainbow iterations of two of their highest-selling sneakers, the iconic sportswear brand demonstrated allegiance towards the LGBTQ+ community and ongoing movement for social justice for all communities.

In addition, Adidas pledged $250,000 to The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organisation for LGBTQ youth.

Patagonia is also a purpose-driven brand well-known for standing behind their purpose and core values, no matter how political they may be.

In September, the outdoorsy brand gained mass media attention after a secret message was discovered on some of the clothing tags.

A controversial “Vote the assholes out” message was stitched to the labels of a new collection.

The initiative was said to be the brainchild of the brand’s founder, Yvon Chouinard, who claims the Patagonia labels were designed to challenge the anti-environmental actions that are currently being taken in Office.⁠

A successful purpose-driven marketing strategy is built for the long haul. It should focus on the goals and interests of the brand and all stakeholders - including employees and customers.

Communications must also serve the audience and offer value. Creating a purpose-first concept means just that - purpose first, dividends later.

So here's the summary:

While we’ve presented a four-step formula for building a successful purpose-driven brand, there’s still plenty to be done to make sure you become the best at what you do and what you offer.

If you are planning on building a purpose-driven brand or considering shifting towards a purpose-driven marketing strategy, make sure you do your research, avoid greenwashing at all costs, and get clear about your why!

Work with a reputable purpose-driven marketing agency that can guide you on what you need to be successful and create campaigns that connect on an emotional level.

Most of all, stand for something you believe in.

If you'd like help in any way, please jump onto our website and take a look around.

We'd love to talk to you about building your purpose-driven brand and how you can use your greatness to impact people and the planet.

Thanks for dropping by our purpose-driven marketing blog.

Lindsay Grace Kinniburgh

Founder & CMO at Outsourced imagination


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