The Unmatched Power of a Fully Realized Brand Purpose
A brand is more than a tool designed to generate awareness or connection or compel people to do things. It’s reflected by more than a logo, a tagline, or a positioning statement. A brand is a common set of behaviors, principles, and symbols that unite an organization and give it energy and relevance.
Throughout history, we’ve seen that great brands are united by a shared purpose. In our modern context, we see the importance of this ‘north star’ intentionality both to the stakeholders within the organization and to those who constitute its community of customers and partners. In part, that’s because companies have become increasingly aware of the ROI of a strong, well-articulated, and operationalized brand purpose. (Or the lack thereof.)
In part, that awareness is coming from a growing list of profitable and significant purpose-driven brands. Just look at the tremendous growth rate of Certified B Corporation filings. There’s a huge amount of positive peer pressure in the market led by standout companies like Ben & Jerry’s, Danone, and Laureate Education, Inc. (the first B Corporation to trade on the US stock market). It’s a great time to be a good corporation.
The Business Case for Brand Purpose
Beyond the brand affinity benefits, more than a few statistics make the business case for purpose. First, studies of purpose-driven brands (like this one from Deloitte) reveal higher market share gains than those that do not clearly articulate and live by a guiding framework. Purpose-driven companies also grow on average three times faster than their competitors, in large part because they achieve much higher comparable employee satisfaction and retention. And 87% of consumers seek a meaningful relationship with the brands they solicit, but only about 23% actually satisfy that desire. No doubt, there is a competitive advantage in play with purpose.
You’d think that with the promise of a stronger bottom line, a healthier workplace culture, and a more favorable market reputation, developing a purpose statement would be a no-brainer. And many organizations try. Crafting that statement is no small effort. It’s relatively simple to create messaging about what you do and even who you are, but why you exist is a challenge that exists on a higher plane.
That why — your purpose statement — is a north star that reflects who you are, guides what you decide to do, and orients how you do it. (Not a small lift for a single statement.) So it’s hardly surprising that so many organizations get partway there but never fully reach a statement that can connect and energize all the operations of the organization. It takes hard work, humility, patience, and objectivity to ensure it is accurate, concise, and honest. And the statement is only the first step. Operationalizing it requires that it points toward a vision statement, has a set of measurable tenets, and reflects the values of the organization and its people.
A Model for Operationalizing Purpose
If you’re familiar with Dragon Army or our founder, Jeff Hilimire, you likely have seen or heard about the PVTV model. You may even have worked with him or a member of our team to develop one for yourself. Two years ago, when I joined the Dragon Army team to lead brand and content, I had already been building brands for more than 15 years. While I wasn’t familiar with the PVTV model, I had deep experience with crafting intimate, authentic brand statements that, once activated, provided the lifeblood of healthy organizations.
As I was familiarizing myself with the PVTV model, two things stood out. First, your brand purpose is not the same as your brand promise. Your promise relates to outcomes you can communicate with metrics and case studies that prove you do what you say you will do. Your purpose frames your promise and grounds it, ensuring that the outcomes are in line with why you exist. Second, you can only operationalize a purpose if you genuinely perceive your team, clients, partners, community, and adjacent members of all of those connections as your stakeholders. They all are impacted by your decisions, and it is your responsibility to be truthful in word and behavior. (Unfortunately, we’ve seen what happens to brands when they forget this fact and act out of line with their purpose.)
Better culture, better reputation, better growth all sound great. So the natural next question is what goes into getting it right. As I mentioned, developing a comprehensive, authentic, operational PVTV takes time and the contribution of various people, but let’s define the pieces here.
Purpose, Vision, Tenets & Values define you as a company. These core strategic pillars drive the kind of work you do, who your team members are, and your list of partners.
- Purpose is the reason you exist.
- Vision is the company you are striving to become.
- Tenets provide the blueprint for success.
- Values guide you along the journey.
Purpose is your foundation and the guardrails for every other part of the model. It is the touchpoint against which you can continuously check progress toward achieving your vision. With tenets, you have practical, measurable tactics for activating your purpose. And with values, you have a checklist to ensure you are hiring and nurturing team members who believe in and live out the same north star.
A fully realized brand purpose resides at the center of your organization, giving it energy and voice and connecting you to every stakeholder who cares about why you exist. You become more than what you do or how you do it. You become genuinely unique, exponentially impactful, and irreplaceable.
If we can be helpful to you in this foundational brand-building effort, we’d be honored. You can reach out to me anytime at [email protected] to chat or get your purpose process started.