Branding | Cause | SFBJ

How businesses can profit from a ‘brand purpose’

Oct 03 , 2019

Reprinted from South Florida Business Journal.

Today’s businesses and consumer companies are discovering that connecting brands to a higher purpose than profits can impress their customer base and deliver significant financial results.

Marketers who have promoted “cause marketing” in order to demonstrate corporate responsibility might say they’ve been doing that for years. But the requirement of purpose-based marketing is more than cutting a check to a worthy charity. It is defining how your company and your employees help make a difference to your industry, customer base and community. It entails making a long-term commitment to align business, corporate culture and marketing under a higher purpose. What does your brand and your company stand for? Why does it exist in the first place? What is its mission? The answers lead to a journey – not just one print ad or television spot, or a check.

Recent research has shown marketers that buyers under 30 are leading the way in proving their willingness to buy from companies that “have a point of view and stand for something.”

The power of purpose

In fact, the Association of National Advertisers named “brand purpose” the ANA 2018 Marketing Word of the Year. And this year, CampaignUS gave out the inaugural Power of Purpose Awards. As an example, one of the winners was “Mastercard brings ‘Start Something Priceless to Life’ leading into the 60th Grammy Awards,” which showed a young musician following his dream incorporating Mastercard’s “Priceless” campaign. This video shifts the focus from selling to engaging with purpose.

Among the corporate leaders embracing purpose-based marketing are two top companies that consult with many other corporations – SAP and KPMG. Both have incorporated purpose into the fabric of the operations. KPMG has developed a user-friendly design program, inviting employees to create posters answering the question “What do you do at KPMG?” in an effort to capture the passion that connects to the organization’s purpose. “Inspire confidence. Empower change.” is the ever-present poster tagline.

Square, a growing tech company, states its purpose not as credit card processing, but as economic empowerment by helping entrepreneurs to start, run and grow a business.

Defining your higher purpose

How can your business change with a more energized and inspired workforce? Employees are the foundation of a company’s purpose, and their buy-in is a critical step in creating a purpose-based organization and culture.

Why is your company successful, and how does that relate to improving the lives of employees and customers? Many companies that have worked to identify their purpose often find it in the original vision of their founders, and articulating it can energize employees, as well as provide a point of view and purpose that upcoming generations demand.

What are proof points underpinning the company’s purpose, and how can you communicate and enhance them in the future? The purpose of a company needs to be timeless. The ability to continue to align the business, culture, community and marketing for the long term is the critical assignment of a company’s chosen purpose.

Aligning purpose with community

There are many opportunities to align your company’s purpose to the community. South Florida’s major universities have meaningful research relating to industries that can help connect what you do to enhancing, sustaining and improving lives. An example is the Marine Research Hub’s support of collaboration with universities and business to commercialize solutions for sustainability of oceans and reefs.

Businesses that haven’t embraced a higher purpose are missing out on the insights offered by a younger generation that will soon become the majority customer base. And, as more companies get onboard with purpose-based marketing, their businesses will benefit, as well. Brand purpose is definitely a competitive advantage.