If you’ve ever wondered why your brand “why” matters and how you find it, this is a post for you…

Recently I wrote about the value of people who live your brand, versus advertising dollars and media spend, with the former winning hands down; but it depends on a clearly defined brand purpose. I thought it was worth digging a little deeper into this because while it’s a simple assertion, the fact that many organisations don’t realise they aren’t purpose driven shows it’s a complicated idea to realise. And if you don’t believe me, Simon Sinek talks about it in his bestselling book Start with Why, because most people know what an organisation does, but few know why they do it. So what are we to do with that?

First I think it’s important to give some facts. You might not think it’s too big of a problem, however In the Black recently wrote about research from the University of Queensland that shows firms with a well-defined purpose outperform competitors by up to 38 per cent. And to show that’s not a singular view, Havas Group’s Meaningful Brands Study, which has been running for a number of years, shows meaningful brands have outperformed the stock market by 206% over the last decade.

So now you know, where do you go?

At TEDx in Sydney this year I was introduced to the idea of ikigai. It is a Japanese concept that means “a reason for being”. Generally it relates to an individual, but I’d like to suggest it has a great capability to shed light on organisations that aren’t purpose driven, all the while helping to define what that purpose might be.

ikigai is seen as the convergence of four primary elements:

  • What you love (your passion)
  • What the world needs (your mission)
  • What you are good at (your industry)
  • What you can get paid for (your service)

The intersection of these four insights starts to paint a picture for your brand about where your focus should be. Do a spot check around your office. Informally ask a dozen people how they’d answer those four points above. This is a great first step.

The next is understanding you need brand champions across your organisation. This can’t be something that sits with HR, or with Marketing alone. It needs executive support and it needs to be widespread, because it’s not a message but a platform that allows you to do what you do better.

While the recent Brands In Motion study seemed to suggest Australian’s care less about brand purpose (relative to functionality**), I suggest this relates more to Australian’s having an aversion to the disingenuous. In other words, don’t think making up a brand purpose because it’s in vogue will do anything for you. If it’s not real, it doesn’t matter. Get it right and you are well positioned. Don’t pay it enough attention, and you will end up paying for it elsewhere!

*Follow Aaron on Twitter @ASCommsTweeter or via his Blog @ Commspro.me

**Note I don’t believe that a brand purpose needs to be different to a functional outcome. I think one drives the other. I also think if you do it well you’ll end up with an emotional connection to things you didn’t even realise were possible.

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