What makes a great brand? Why is it that some of them are immensely successful and are always talked about and some are just… forgotten, or generally ignored? Why do we love some brands and what makes us want to engage with this brand over another? The partial answer is: they have a clear purpose and mission! A couple of weeks ago in the Brand Communications module class, we touched upon the importance of the model called “the brand onion” and how it can help brands build their reputation and image in the eyes of consumers. In this post, I would like to explore what brand purpose means and why I think it is immensely important for any brand.
The increased ‘humanisation’ and ’emotionalisation’ of brands is definitely one of the most prominent trends we see in PR these days. What it leads to, is better B2C understanding. It also sparks creativity and fosters clearer relations with target audiences. However, that is not all. These days, in the era of increased public expectations, brand and corporate purpose are gold, they are the indispensible “essence”. Brands who are ‘out there’ with no clear purpose come and go. Those who have a clear purpose, find it easy to fulfill other ‘brand onion’ elements and become fully-lived entities.
Brand purpose is undeniably vital. According to Mats Urde, brand essence is the “common thread of the brand building process” (Urde, M. Core value-based corporate brand building, European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 37 Issue 7/8 p.1026). It shows who and what the brand is and what it ultimately aims to achieve and show to its audience. Brand essence needs to be effectively communicated to the public and then needs to be constantly proved, over and over again, in order to achieve and maintain business excellence. According to Urde, brand essence has two functions. “First, the organisational values [+ essence] are translated into the core values that guide the organisation’s efforts. Second, the core values are translated into customer utility value or added value for various target groups.” (Urde, M. Core value-based corporate brand building, European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 37 Issue 7/8 p.1026).
Brands incresingly realise this need and strive to underline and emphasise their purpose. I would like to add to the debate by outlining 4 main reasons that are, in my opinion, explaining why brand purpose is something no brand can afford to miss out on.
- Brand purpose increases brand understanding.
The clearer the purpose, the clearer the vision. The clearer the vision, the more general public will understand what the brand is about and why it should matter to them as well.
2. Brand purpose makes the brand more relatable and approachable.
Think about it – you can only relate to things that speak to you, that you understand and that resonate with your experiences, personality or expectations. Brand purpose does this job pretty well. If the purpose resonates with what the audience wants/expects, that’s exactly what is going to take its message across the noise and straight to the right public.
3. Brand purpose makes the brand more appealing and emotionally connected.
Similarly to the point no.2, the clearer and more fitting the purpose is, the more appealing it will be to the audience and the more resonation it will receive. Brand purpose is often built on some kind of emotions, which are likely to appeal and be relatable to the target audience. Emotional approach to brands and corporations is on the rise these days, with Unilever, Volvo, Dogs Trust (which, even though a charity, shows the importance of essence) or Pret being just a few recent examples.
4. Brand purpose has a humanising effect.
Brands cannot seem to be artificial, lifeless creations focused on earning money and gaining popularity. If they are seen to have humane characteristics, they have a bigger chance of winning audience that is going to listen, engage and respond. Brands need purpose in life, just like us humans do.
Brands that master the essence and purpose creation do it better. Look at the list below and see how many successful brands it holds (I found quite a few that spark something more than just “oh yes, I know that one” in me. I was even surprised to see Apple score quite low here).
Summing up, it is clear that without the brand purpose, brands cannot move forward and take their stance on the market higher. The “have purpose in everything you do” motto is now more applicable and important than ever. Let’s not forget it… ever.
Article: “Core value-based corporate brand building”, European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 37 Issue 7/8 pp. 1017 – 1040)