What happens when you scratch the surface of a brand?
People are becoming more skeptical of brands – the Global Trek 100 report found that only 15.4% of UK consumers believe what brands say in their advertising, the rest are neutral, disbelieving or unsure. Marketers have long known that brand strength is more than a logo and an advert but many organisations are now recognising the power of purpose. In a study by the Havas group in 2013 over half the people surveyed believed that brands have the ability to improve the quality of their life and well being – but only 5% felt that they actually delivered this!
Before we go any further let’s clarify something: brand purpose is not about saving the world. If you can offer that with integrity then go for it but this isn’t solely about social awareness or CSR. Sure, brands like Patagonia and Fjallraven have successfully carved out strong positions through their sustainable strategies but their outdoor audience would expect such a position.
Brand purpose is about defining and living by what you stand for and identifying how you can deliver this message in a meaningful way to your audience. It is about cultivating a culture in your people, wearing it with pride through all activity and living it through every point of interaction with your audience—internally and externally. Providing your people with purpose is motivating and defining a clear brand purpose will not only make decisions across the business easier, it will make them stronger. It can’t be an after thought – people will see through this and be quick to expose it.
Brands can have an active role in society so they should be evaluating what that is and how they behave. Instead of being provided with a label through their behavior, brands should treat their purpose as the barometer of what is expected of them.
Going beyond just selling products or services to providing real contribution will actually help you build brand value and… sell more stuff. Unilever recently reported that the brands in their portfolio that have embraced purpose have seen excellent sales growth over the past 3 years. A popular example of this is Dove’s focus on self-esteem. Whilst Unilever doesn’t release sales figures, their Brand Director of Skin Cleansing told the Huffington Post last year that the conversation resulted “in brand love, and brand love leads to brand loyalty. That’s obviously a positive for us not just in the power of the brand, but also ultimately in sales.”
Brands are an integral part of our modern lives and they can positively impact our lives and well being. The power comes from how brands display their purpose. Knowing what you stand for is the first stage. Be transparent and authentic in your actions and people will recognize and appreciate your purpose resulting in stronger connections and increased affinity with your brand.