To be successful, brands need to resonate with consumers, employees, and investors. That’s why brands need to define their purposes, or their reason for being (beyond making money).

The best way to grasp the importance of clear brand purpose is to examine examples of brands who have done it well.

13 Examples of Brands with Higher Purposes

These 13 examples, most of which have demonstrable business success as well, all have something in common – they all have a higher purpose. Some have several. They offer a basis for a customer relationship that goes beyond functional benefits to generate self-expressive, emotional or social benefits. They all rise above the “my brand is better than your brand” competition and the noise that goes with it.

Consider the higher purpose of the following brands:

1. Dove: Achieving real beauty, building self-esteem

Videos tied to Dove’s purpose garnered over 35 million views on YouTube within 2 weeks and generated viral unpaid exposure worth over $150 million.

2. Tanita: Controlling weight, creating a healthy body image

Tanita’s company cafeteria featuring a healthy yet tasty menu earned a TV feature piece and a subsequent series of Tanita company cafeteria cookbooks (first published in 2010). Now, one in ten households in Japan own a Tanita recipe book.

3. Panera Bread: Looking to the build communities with “Panera Cares” model

Panera’s community breadbox, day-old bread donations to those in need, and Panera Cares restaurants spread the clear message that giving back is an integral part of the brand.

4. Patagonia: Preserving the environment, sustainability in clothing

Patagonia’s “Common Threads” initiative minimizes the environmental cost of clothing by reducing, repairing, reusing and recycling clothing, driving their sustainability purpose.

5. Disney: Attacking kid obesity

Nearly 15 years ago, Disney made dramatic changes to upgrade the healthiness of in-park food offerings and Disney Channel TV advertising. These initiatives have made the Disney brand a leader in the fight against childhood obesity.

6. Asian Paints: Using color experimentation and building confidence

India’s third-largest paint firm used in-store tactics— including tactile light and color experiences and technology integration— to create a sense of “color confidence” for their customers.

7. Crayola: Helping parents and teachers raise inspired, creative children

Crayola created offerings and programs to enable the innate creativity of every child, such as positioning parents and teachers as partners in inspiring childhood creativity, instead of simply as customers.

8. Purina: Creating special pet moments

Through their annual Cat Chow contest, Purina used owners’ emotional connections to their cats to create a meaningful connection between customers and the brand.

9. Chick-Fil-A: Spreading Christian values

Chick-Fil-A does not shy away from discussing their Evangelical Christian values in the media, which, while potentially alienating for some customers, maintains a strong Southern customer base (where the bulk of its outlets are located) due to shared beliefs, interests, activities and values with the brand.

10. Muji: Promoting simplicity, moderation, humility, self-restraint, serenity and the natural environment

Muji solidifies their brand purpose by delivering functional, streamlined products and simple, pared down retail store design.

11. Whole Foods Market: Educating about organic, natural foods and nutritional health

Whole Foods shows their dedication to organic and natural foods by only stocking food brands with these values, as well as building juice bars and natural cafes within their stores.

12. Nintendo: Activities for active families

With the introduction of Wii, Nintendo reshaped their brand as one that makes games the whole family can participate in, as well as transforming the sedentary reputation of video games into a more active one.

13. Coca-Cola: Experiencing happiness

Coca-Cola focuses its marketing, acquisitions, and partnerships around promoting happiness, such as aligning with popular sporting events or utilizing nostalgic imagery like their holiday polar bears.

Final Thoughts

A brand is often, and with good reason, thought of as a vehicle to make profits by delivering functional benefits for customers with offerings that are better or as good as competitors. But there is evidence that brands with ongoing success are more likely to have a higher purpose that provides benefits beyond the functional to customers and provides satisfaction, and even inspiration, to employees.

Learn more about defining a brand purpose that will draw customers, employees, and investors to your brand.


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