Consider the following business purpose statements: What brands do they belong to?
- Bringing inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world (and everyone is an athlete).
- Foster creative exploration and self-expression
- Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use businesses to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.
The three brands chosen for this exercise are brands that manage to combine their business purpose with their business purpose and make it look easy (respectively Nike, Apple, and Patagonia), but for many companies there is no balance between the two.
What is the difference between an objective and a goal?
Business goals are what a business plans to accomplish in a set period of time, usually a three-year cycle, relative to your business goal, which is why you started your business and can be, like demonstrated above, explained in one sentence. .
If you tell your staff or customers that you want to achieve double-digit growth and dominate your industry, that won’t encourage them, but it’s a classic business goal. The goal is more of a long-term investment; it doesn’t necessarily provide you with quick wins, but helps build brand loyalty and the emotional connection and trust with your customers.
The disparity comes when you have to balance a long game when you have two- or three-year trading goals.
Inevitably, some companies therefore have great difficulty understanding the purpose, fail to see the value and are skeptical, especially the stakeholders who have a vested interest in making profit the priority. They might wonder if the goal doesn’t necessarily have an ROI and first wonder why it matters.
But when you look at some of the most powerful and successful brands in the world, they’ve found that balance and, as Steve Jobs once said, “If people have a greater sense of purpose, profit will follow.”
The purpose of the brand is not a fashion
Most of us remember our school motto as “honor and integrity” – it gave us value and purpose, and it runs parallel to the purpose of the company.
While the pandemic has seen a spike in the popularity of brands with purpose, it’s not just a fad and recent years have seen a significant increase in the success of brands with innate brand purpose.
Unilever backs this up with examples from its own brands, explaining that “in 2018, our 28 sustainable living brands – those that take action to support positive change for people and the planet – grew by 69 % faster than the rest of our business. This is up from 46% in 2017.”
The Cone/Porter Novelli survey found that 66% of consumers would switch from a product they typically buy to a new product from a goal-oriented company, while goal-oriented brands saw an increase in valuation 175% over the past 12 years, compared to a growth rate of just 70% for apathetic brands unsure of their role. (Kantar 2018).
The goal is not something you announce; you’re not marketing it, and that’s why it’s such a difficult concept to understand, but as the statistics show, companies have to find a way to intertwine the two if the business hasn’t grown from organic way with a defined objective.
The examples of companies that truly demonstrate the power of purpose have been built from the ground up, where purpose is embedded in everything they do. It’s been intrinsic since day one.
Ben and Jerry’s is one of the best examples. They are militants who sell ice cream; they never intended to be so successful, but the reason for their popularity, why consumers stick with them and why there is such brand loyalty is that they are true activists change and it always has been.
Every business needs a WHY?
In the wake of the pandemic, many businesses are reassessing their strategies and, as a result, are seriously thinking about their brand’s purpose. But how does that translate to the b2b industry, to companies that don’t have a consumable product and talk more about business goals?
All businesses, regardless of sector/product/service, must start with the WHY? And for this reason, you must implement the top-down business model.
The mistake a lot of people make is that they want a website and a social media campaign and that’s fine, but what are you going to say? These companies know what to do, but they don’t know how to do it. People starting from the bottom haven’t identified their brand/strategy/purpose and there’s a lot of work to be done before they can produce something that captures the hearts and minds of their staff and audience. People won’t engage if there is no WHY?
Starting with one idea at the top, then making the right decisions to move forward and down the business allows you to position yourself, create the right tone of voice, and identify your audience and deliverables.
Another classic mistake is to simply use some kind of charity or “do good” angle to make it look like the brand’s goal; consumers will see through. Even global giants make mistakes, as seen in the 2017 Pepsi ad featuring Kendall Jenner. It was a prime example of a brand trying too hard. What was meant to be a unifying message had to be taken down and apologized (“We missed the mark and we apologize” – Pepsi) due to public backlash.
Does it matter if we don’t have a brand goal?
Well yes! People are more likely to buy from you if you have a brand objective and if you don’t you will let other people occupy that space and that is where challenger brands will come in and dominate.
Consumers will connect with other brands instead of yours and the result is that you will not achieve your goals and increase your market share, which is once again proof that the goal Branding isn’t just about being nice and fluffy, it’s actually and actively working towards achieving your brand goals.
Apple always remains true and its purpose endures. People have come and gone from the company, but the heart remains the foundation of the entire company and its unprecedented success.
And let’s face it, we would all love a piece of that cake!
Gayle Carpenter is director of the creative agency of Sparkloop.