It is well reported that brands with purpose outperform their peers; often attracting and retaining the best talent, providing a real point of difference for consumers. Unilever announced strong results that support this notion with purpose led brands in their portfolio growing 69% faster than the rest of the business and delivering 75% of the growth.
The results of our 2019 Prophet Brand Relevance Index® (BRI), which speaks to 12,200 consumers in the UK to understand the brands most indispensable to their lives, shows that many of the brands successfully soaring up the rankings are the ones centred on clear, authentic purposes. Brands like Lush, Ikea and Disney have all seen their relevance with British consumers increase over the past 12 months.
Purpose exists to differing degrees in organisations and even for those that are truly purposeful, there is an ongoing journey to maintain the conversation and engagement with consumers in order to stay responsive in an ever-changing world.
Here, I outline three fundamentals to help brands on their journey to becoming truly purpose-led:
1. Identify a purpose rooted in truth
A purpose cannot just be invented. It is not just a slogan or a campaign. A real purpose is the reason why a brand or company exists, and what it wants to achieve. It is at the core of what makes the brand relevant because it is in the DNA of the company. Ikea, for example, stays true to its guiding principle to ‘create a better everyday for the many people.’ Even as Ikea continues to grow, its relentless focus on bringing design to the masses in a way that is authentic and transparent has manifested itself across the entire business model. This year, the brand jumped up 10 spots in our BRI, to sit comfortably at 18.
2. Articulate the ‘why’
A purpose should inspire its audience, acting as a rallying cry for its employees as well as a demonstrative signal to the outside world of the values and belief system behind the company. To drive impact, the purpose must resonate with hearts and minds.
A great example of this is Disney, which climbed to No. 14 in the Index with its simple and inspiring purpose: make people happy. Not only is this rooted in the organisation’s DNA, but it inspires across all levels of the organisation and drives behaviours in the pursuit of constantly increasing happiness. This single unifying principle speaks to the heart. And when a purpose speaks to the heart it has the power to truly inspire change.
3. Activate with conviction
A brand with purpose doesn’t make empty, albeit appealing and cleverly executed, claims. It actually uses its brand purpose as a yardstick to measure what they do and how they do it. Brands that possess purpose have a clear conviction; they don’t just talk, they act too. Purpose drives relevance and perceptions, but to do so employees and customers need to know about it.
Lush has long been a proponent for cruelty-free and vegan products. And whilst much has been made of previous campaigns what constantly remains at the core of their actions is a real conviction. Lush doesn’t just talk about the environment, it acts on it. It is a big deal to put your conviction above profit but that’s precisely what the brand did on Friday 20th September when it closed its stores and website to lend its voice to the climate crisis. It is no wonder Lush powered into the top 10 this year, with British consumers scoring it highest on relevance measures such as ‘has a set of beliefs that align with my own’ and ‘lives up to its promise.’
Brands need to learn that it’s actions and not ads that make the difference. To build a relentlessly relevant brand, and perhaps move through next year’s Index, you must identify your organisation’s true brand purpose, articulate it well to employees and customers, and activate it for the world to see.
If your brand is ready to further develop its true brand purpose in order to unlock uncommon growth, let’s set up a time to discuss. Our team of strategic consultants is ready to help you chart the course.