Brands must be meaningful
In order to survive on the market in the face of enormous competitive pressure and unprecedented media visibility, brands must be authentic, relevant and distinguishable. In affluent and knowledge-based societies, many purchases no longer cover basic needs, but fulfill desires, and this with an almost unmanageable selection of goods and services that are very similar to one another. It is simply hopeless to try to differentiate oneself solely on the basis of quality or even price-performance ratio. This is all the more true at a time when not only millennials, but people of all ages and social classes are asking themselves the question of meaning brands must therefore take a stand – not only in their own market, but also in the world; as service providers, producers and employers. Pure profit maximization can no longer be the sole raison d’être of a future-oriented company. Brands that want to be relevant must have a purpose.
AT THE HEART OF THE GOLDEN CIRCLE IS THE WHY: THE PURPOSE.
Brand Purpose as an integral brand component
In the current discourse on the raison d’être of companies, the brand purpose or corporate purpose is the key concept. Purpose refers to a company’s raison d’être beyond profit orientation. It does not mean corporate social responsibility; rather, purpose corresponds to the intrinsic “why” of the company. It describes the socially relevant added value that a company or a brand creates. In this respect, the current purpose discourse is related to the entrepreneurial responsibility enshrined in the German Basic Law, which states: Ownership obligates. At the same time, its use should serve the common good.
Unfuck the economy: einhorn condoms
einhorn Kondome, for example, describes itself as a purpose company. In 2015, the start-up was founded to produce fair, sustainable and vegan condoms whose branding and packaging have a design claim beyond the drugstore aesthetics that are common in Germany. The purpose of fairstainability (fairness + sustainability) is crucial for all company activities: from the transparent value chain for condoms and period products, to investing profit shares in charitable projects, to responsible ownership as an alternative ownership model. In the case of einhorn, this means, among other things, that the voting rights of the company are always held by employees and that shares in the company cannot be inherited. Fairstainability thus becomes the legal basis for brand management.
Those who have a purpose are more productive
Start-ups such as einhorn, but also larger, established companies such as Zeiss, show that it is possible to align corporate strategy with purpose and be successful and profitable in the process. Studies have shown that purpose is not limited to altruistic striving. Accordingly, brands that align their actions with their purpose are demonstrably more successful, both in terms of overall performance and customer orientation, sales and new customer acquisition, such as innovative strength and digital transformation.
Putting in long hours for a corporation is hard. Putting in long hours for a cause is easy.
How purpose, vision and mission differ from each other
At first glance, it is not easy to clearly distinguish between brand purpose, vision and mission. On closer inspection, however, they form a hierarchy. The purpose is at the highest level, hovering above things, so to speak. It answers the question of why the company is in the world. In a sense, it is also addressed to the entire world, namely to all stakeholders of the brand, both internally and externally. The brand vision describes the longer-term goal of the company, e.g. a positioning or reputation to be achieved. It is aimed primarily at employees and serves as motivation and orientation. The mission summarizes the concrete services of the brand in the sense of a value proposition and is accordingly directed primarily at customers.
Brand purpose, vision and mission should naturally relate to each other or be in relation to each other. Then they unfold their power as a veritable corporate coordinate system.
Purpose first, strategy second
Formulating a brand purpose for purely strategic marketing purposes without living it will fail to have the desired effect. People have an excellent sense of whether a message, an attitude is sincere – or not. This applies to potential buyers as well as employees. A promise that turns out to be stale lip service can be disappointing, demotivating, even embarrassing, and thus extremely damaging for the brand. The aforementioned media transparency contributes to the fact that Potemkin villages are quickly unmasked as such. Therefore, the purpose should always be the driving force for the brand’s strategy, not the other way around.
Brand Purpose is in the DNA of the brand
… most of the time. That’s the good news: there’s often no need for “made-up” purpose statements. At Helder, we are convinced that every brand has an inherent Brand Purpose. In our brand workshop, we bring this purpose to light in a co-creative way with our clients.