What is Brand Purpose? │ The Brand Glossary Series

I am excited to launch the second article in this series, The Brand Glossary. I’m specifically excited because this term is one of my absolute favourites. It encapsulates branding and is the foundation of any prosperous brand.

Okay, okay, I know you might not grasp why I am so excited. Yet at the end of the article, I hope you will understand this term’s gravitas. So, what is the term? Today is all about brand purpose. The article will address what it is, why it is important, and how you can use it in your marketing to connect with your ideal audience.

Have you ever wondered what certain branding and marketing terms mean, and how it applies to business? This series called The Brand Glossary, will help you understand what certain terms mean, and how it is relevant to business.

Let’s start with an academic description of brand purpose. Carla Enslin, a brand academic and founder of branding school Vega, explains that brand purpose is the motivation behind a brand. It’s essentially the most meaningful reason as to why the brand exists. And it is the reason why a specific audience resonates with a brand – they believe in that same motivation and meaningful reason.

Other academics, Aaker and Joachimsthaler, refer to brand purpose as brand essence, brand promise, and soul of the brand. By conceptualising these related terms, it is clear that the purpose of a brand isn’t purely about functional purpose. Rather it is how a brand meaningfully connects with audiences and the world through its products and services. 

Now let me take that academic hat off 😊 And let me put my French beret on.

Here’s how I like to explain it. Brand purpose is the raison d’être. Or in English, the reason for existing. It’s all about why the brand was created in the first place. Now back in the day that might have been a gap in the market, because a gap would mean potential profits. Yet in today’s everchanging landscape where the planet and its people mean just as much (and not more) as profits, that raison d’être goes much deeper.

Think about why most entrepreneurs and start-ups post 2010 start businesses? Sometimes an entrepreneur or freelancers starts as a dissatisfied employee who wants more work-life balance. They start something that they enjoy doing. Consider some of the recent Kickstarter campaigns. Many of them were passionate about changing the world through tech; making tech more accessible.

Why is it important? Well, in our world where people and planet matter, as brands we have to adapt. And it’s not about superficial adaptation. People to not respond well to false representations of true meaning. What brands say they are must match with what they do. Purpose is the driving force for actions in a business. Not only does it help clients connect with a brand, but it also can be a powerful motivator for internal stakeholders. Brand purpose is important because it is that golden thread that runs through each brand action and customer experience.

One of the things I see that my clients sometimes struggle with, is how to bring purpose into the brand messaging. Or how to bring it into the customer experience. So, let’s chat about how brands can utilise their purpose in meaningful ways to connect with their ideal audiences:

  1. Firstly, do you have brand purpose as part of the brand ID? If not, contact a brand strategist or work with your internal teams to explore brand purpose. Reflect on why the business was started. Reflect on why it exists now. And capture it somewhere.
  2. Ensure that the purpose is clear and visible: is it captured in a brand book; do internal stakeholders have access to it; is it part of the tagline and mantra; perhaps place it on screensavers. This will help internal staff to exhibit the brand purpose in their work. As part of a tagline, or having it on a brand’s website, will also help clients and leads connect to it.
  3. Do as you say. It’s that simple. Embody the purpose. Audiences can pick up on it, so when it’s embodied it will reflect in all internal stakeholders’ actions.
  4. Work on a communications strategy where the brand purpose is clear. Every communication touchpoint should embody the purpose.
  5. Be authentic. Simply be. This step goes hand-in-hand with step 3. Yet it has another dimension. Why? Let’s flip it to the opposite: If the brand is constantly fake, there’s no true brand purpose guiding the brand. Yet, when the brand is authentic, it will naturally live the purpose. And audiences will connect to that.

That’s it for this article. Thank you for reading. If you have questions about brand purpose or would like to book a consultation with a brand strategist to help you define your company’s brand purpose, contact us at info@ostarastudio.com.

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