Today not many doubt that what makes a brand truly special isn’t what it offers or its resources (despite those things being what gives it credibility and legitimacy), but rather its intangible elements.
What hooks you, what creates preference and identification, it’s not if a product or service has more of this or less of that, but instead it’s what world surrounds the brand in question. What world can you access by joining its club, what can you participate in and what can you achieve by doing so.
These days intangibles play an crucial role in growing companies and businesses. To explain how, in this post we’re going to focus on the most determinant intangible: purpose. What is it?
According to a recent study by Harvard Business Review partnering with the consulting firm Ernst & Young, purpose can be defined as “An aspirational reason for being which inspires and provides a call to action for an organisation and its partners and stakeholders, and provides benefit to local and global society”.
In a nutshell, it’s the reason why companies exist beyond just making money. For example:
Identifying a genuine purpose, one with depth that acts as a key criteria when making decisions has become the great challenge of the present for companies. We say challenge because although most companies recognise that purpose helps with innovation and transformation, very few would acknowledge yet that they working internally based on it.
It is not easy to institute a purpose. At the end of the day, it affects all aspects of the culture of the brand and organisation. To have an impact, it must be conveyed and communicated from the CEO on down, throughout the company, with the help of the Marketing and Human Resources departments as well as other ones.
The result, if it’s done right, is worth the effort since it benefits every aspect of the company: The brand and its experience, its offering, the development of new opportunities and innovation, the business model and operations…
In short, purpose is the company’s key growth lever.
So… what about the relationships that are established with the brand? As we see, once you have the purpose, the attitude can be defined and it is connected emotionally and aspirationally with all the audiences: We attract customers, we create cohesion, satisfaction and pride in the employees, identification in the ambassadors, trust in the shareholders… they all have a reason to become personally associated with the brand. They all join the cause.
Warning! A great purpose also entails great responsibility: Beyond communicating it, it’s essential for it to be activated and present wherever we are. That’s the only way we will be able to demonstrate how we do things and how we behave, setting ourselves apart from the rest in a meaningful way.
In sum: all of us, wherever we are and whichever brand we’re beside… we want to become excited, we want a reason why and we want to form part of something big. That’s why, subconsciously, when our inner self has a brand and a business in front of it, it looks for an important purpose where it can join the cause.
So we end up acting like Cuba Gooding Jr., asking Tom Cruise (or our brand) to truly commit, jump in, to believe it, in the famous “Show me the money” scene. Although now we don’t think so much about the “money” (or about the product), and yes, a little more about the purpose.