What's a brand purpose statement and why do you need one?

Studio Skulptur
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Why purpose-driven brands build more meaning, community, and profit.

Across industries, consumers and business leaders are growing increasingly discerning in the way they buy and create. As a society, we’ve become tired of mindless consumerism and a harmful growth at all costs mindset — we’re searching for more meaning in the way we spend our money, time, and energy. People want to buy products, work at companies, and build businesses that align with their values and what they stand for.

"Working hard for something we don't care about is called stress. Working hard for something we care about is called passion."

<span class="blog-quote_author" style="color: #1b1b1c; margin-left: 50px; margin-bottom: 40px; padding-left: 20px; font-size: 18px; margin-top: -20px; display: inline-block;">— Simon Sinek, Start With Why</span>

No matter what industry you’re in, you can see yourself and your company stewards of your corner of the market and the world, aiming to leave everything a little bit better than the way you found it. Brand purpose can help you get there.

What is a brand purpose anyway?

Your brand purpose is your reason for being. It’s your “why”. It’s your North Star that will guide you in all aspects of building your brand and growing your business. A strong brand purpose inspires, so it needs to go way beyond profits and business strategy (though it aligns with and supports those things) and connect with your community on a deep emotional level. Your brand purpose isn’t what you do, it’s why you do it.

"The most important brands in the world make you feel something. They do that because they have something they want to change. And as customers, we want to be part of that change. These companies have a reason to exist over and above just to make a profit: They have a purpose."

<span class="blog-quote_author" style="display: inline-block; color: #1b1b1c; margin-left: 50px; margin-bottom: 40px; padding-left: 20px; font-size: 18px; margin-top: -20px;">— David Hieatt, Do Purpose</span>

How can it help you?

Purpose-driven brands create clarity amongst your team, customers, and industry. A clear purpose creates something to rally around both internally and externally, paving the way to sustainable growth. Studies are now showing that purpose-driven brands gain a competitive advantage.

Your purpose won’t resonate with everyone, but those that do connect with it are more likely to become loyal ambassadors. If your customers feel aligned with your purpose, they’re far less likely to be enticed to switch to a competing brand.

A brand purpose supports your strategy and acts as a barometer for making business decisions. You can measure your options against your brand purpose — if it doesn’t align, don’t do it.

What makes a strong brand purpose?

<span class="blog-content_number" style="font-weight: 300; color: #727476">01</span> Authentic

First and foremost, a strong brand purpose needs to come from a place of authenticity. Societally, we’re constantly bombarded with marketing messaging, so we’re all becoming experts in parsing through the fluff and sniffing out the B.S. If your brand purpose doesn’t align with your values and the way you show up in the world, it won’t land with your community.

<span class="blog-content_number" style="font-weight: 300; color: #727476">02</span> Emotional yet tangible

Your brand purpose is why you do what you do. It’s the emotional link between the practical and inspirational facets of your business. A strong brand purpose should create a strong emotional connection with your team and customers.

It shouldn’t be so high level and ethereal that you lose your audience, or so myopic that you bore them. If you’re selling small business financial software, nobody is going to buy that you’re really “making the world a better place”. On the other hand, “building really great small business accounting software” isn’t exactly a rallying cry. If you land somewhere in the middle with something like, “Freeing businesses to focus on what matters”, you’re in the sweet spot. You’re creating an emotional connection by speaking to your customers core needs, while connecting what you do with a more visionary perspective.

<span class="blog-content_number" style="font-weight: 300; color: #727476">03</span> Long term

What you do in your business may change, but why you do it should stay the same. By focusing on the long term vision, your purpose can support your growth strategy and help you expand into new categories. Nike’s brand purpose is to “move the world forward through the power of sport.” This purpose makes sense whether you apply it to sportswear or training apps and leaves flexibility for plenty of strategic growth opportunities.

<span class="blog-content_number" style="font-weight: 300; color: #727476">04</span> Customer-first

A solid brand purpose should focus on the core needs of your audience and how you add value to them. Understanding the hopes and fears of your main target market is key to crafting a purpose that resonates with them.

What it's not

<p style="margin-bottom: 50px;">Purpose statements aren’t taglines or campaign slogans, though they can inspire compelling marketing copy. You want your messaging to convey the essence of your purpose, but you don’t want to dilute its power by slapping it on every piece of content you create.</p>

What next?

  • Check out the brand purpose master Simon Sinek’s now classic book, “Start With Why”
  • Read David Hieatt’s “Do Purpose: Why brands with purpose do better and matter more”
  • Learn more about our purpose-driven brand building process.