Last week I started a topic which is very pertinent to all brands across the world: ‘Why Brands should be Purpose -Led. I hope you got a chance to have a read! This week, I am going to continue and share some simple guidelines to kick start your journey to finding your purpose. This article will cover 5 practical tips on ‘how to’ find your business purpose.
Just to quickly recap on the ‘Why brand purpose’: We live in a challenging Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous world (VUCA). In order to be relevant, businesses have to be part of solving societal problems. Companies with a purpose are able to solidify the role they play in relation to societal needs that matter. These purpose-led brands also create conversations & dialogue with consumers through issues that they can relate to.
What is a ‘Brand Purpose: One of my favourite definitions of purpose is from Simon Sinek, who says ‘a higher order reason for a brand to exist than just making a profit’. Below is Simon Sinek’s work around the ‘why’ of a brand or a company.
Knowing the deeper ‘why’ your company or brand exists provides the foundation on which to build everything else — your ‘how’ (organizational culture, brand experience) and your ‘what’ (what products or services you offer)
Where do you find this purpose: This purpose is found in 1. The markets that brands & companies operate in and 2. The life of people, their stories, their dreams & aspirations. We just need to open our hearts & minds in order to actively engage, observe, listen and ultimately feel the market & the people we serve. Brand Purpose is rooted into the lives of people in the marketplace. A good example I could think of is Friends Of The Environment (#FOTE) LINK from the Nyaradzo Group. It is NOT a once off but is part of the bigger strategy of the business. It lives in the lives of the people they serve.
How do you discover & find your Purpose?
I am going to share some quick nuggets from my practical professional experience, reading and observations. Finding your brand or company purpose requires detailed ‘Deep Dives’ in the following areas:
- Dig into the Company History: A deep dive into the history, heritage of the brand, the story of the founders. This is basically the company’s reason for coming into existence in the first place. For example, Unilever was founded by William Heskith Lever in the 1890’s who started with Sunlight Soap, which helped revolutionize hygiene in Victorian England. Here’s what he wrote down as its purpose: “To make cleanliness commonplace; to lessen work for women; to foster health and contribute to personal attractiveness, that life may be more enjoyable and rewarding for the people who use our products”.
- Ask the People you Serve: Consumer Deep Dive is the next big task you need to do. The people you serve (your consumers and associated stakeholders like retailers, suppliers and other partners) can help unearth valuable insights as to the distinctive, own-able higher-order purpose for your business. By integrating these sources of research and data, a brand can uncover a compelling brand purpose which can help it future-proof itself for generations to come. The consumer deep dive also helps to co-create lasting win-win relationships with communities.
- Environmental Scan: The famous PEST Analysis: Right from the start, a company must root its purpose in the Political, Economic, Social & Technological context they operate in. There is a need to do an intensive research and analysis of the environment and future trends that affect your company. Today a lot of companies already do the PEST analysis every year when they do strategic plans, but the question is whether this is done with ‘purpose-driven’ lens. Here are some quick pointers:
- Political: Legal Environment: How strict carbon footprint laws can affect your business. How shaped political commitments like the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) might influence the crafting of your purpose.
- Economic: Impact of Growing Middle Class, Bottom of The Pyramid.
- Social: Impact of Urbanization thus the birth of Smart Cities, Smart Communities.
- Technological: This is the biggest enabler as it disrupts the Political, Economic & Social dimensions: for e.g. Mobile Penetration influencing Mobile Money access to take advantage of the unbanked thus driving financial inclusion.
- Brand Deep Dive: This involves looking at a brand’s strengths (what you are good at) and passions (brand passion points), and their intersection with how the brand can be of service to the world. The chart below from Brand Language Design simplifies the brand deep dive process.
- Ask your employees: Finding out the stories of why your employees are proud to work for your company or brand often unearths the real value that they see in the work that they do. This is another great data point to crafting your purpose.
Afterthought 1: The below is the biggest bonus I can give you as it makes an easy entry into the purpose led space for your company and brand. This is basically about aligning your brand the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Afterthought 2: What is the difference between ‘Purpose’, ‘Vision’ and ‘Mission’? There are definitely clear differences between Purpose, Vision & Mission as outlined in the diagram (from Brand New Purpose). It should help you kick start your process of finding your purpose.
As brands strive for differentiation, relevance and growth, a clear purpose brought to life in compelling ways is often the difference between success and failure.
Article Credit: Juliet Ziswa