Marketing Insights

What Is Brand Purpose & Why It Matters

Brand purpose doesn't just tell the story of what your company is about — it backs that story with concrete action integral to your unique value proposition.

Brand purpose is like the higher purpose of a company. It’s the company’s reason for being beyond turning a profit or offering an excellent product. Brand purpose looks to tell the story of the bigger picture. 

A memorable example is Toms Shoes. Although it is a for-profit company, Toms markets themselves like a charity: for every pair of Toms shoes purchased, a pair of shoes is donated to someone in need. 

This connects customers to the greater good. Even though they are paying a premium for premium footwear, they feel connected to something bigger than themselves – and bigger than the brand. This is a great example because it is related to the original product: Toms is a footwear company and they donate footwear to people in need. 

The value of brand purpose for companies is it makes the customer look beyond the direct value proposition. Aligning a brand with a specific purpose improves brand awareness, builds trust, and creates positive brand associations with customers. 

Building Brand Purpose

Effective brand purpose makes it clear to your customers who your brand is and why you do what you do. Brand purpose is your company’s “why”. Why you do what you do, who you do it for, and how you are uniquely positioned to help them. It distinguishes the brand from competitors. 

Effective brand purpose uses social or environmental responsibility to highlight the bigger goals of a company. To build a brand purpose:

  • Start with the why. Who is your brand and what do you have to offer the world?
  • Plan to integrate the purpose in long-term product development and company growth.
  • Put your customer first. It should resonate with your target demographic and fulfill an important need for them.
  • Integrate action at every stage. A brand purpose without action will be perceived as insincere and will reduce brand credibility. 

Brand Purpose Examples

While companies of all sizes seek to align their brand purpose with their company mission and vision, here are a few examples:

Crayola

Crayola’s brand purpose is stated as, “At Crayola, our purpose is to help parents and educators raise creatively-alive kids.” They encourage kids to ask the question “What if” and explore their creativity. This aligns with the products and offerings of crayola, while working towards something bigger than themselves — a world filled with creativity “that makes the impossible permissible”.

Dove 

Dove’s brand purpose is to make beauty a source of confidence, not anxiety. They want to see the next generation of girls grow up having a positive relationship with the way they look. Their “Real Beauty” campaign, launched in 2004, was one of the first major advertisements to show women of all shapes, sizes and colors embracing their appearance. 

As a large provider of personal care products, Dove’s brand purpose is integrated into its product offering while taking on something bigger — body confidence and self-acceptance. 

Expensify

Expensify’s brand purpose is to help professionals do what they do best, and not waste time on money management, through their product offering of an expense management platform. 

In 2019, they launched an Expensify card, in which 10% of revenue is donated to their charitable arm to make purchase-appropriate donations. A flight booking will lead to a donation to plant trees to off-set carbon footprint, while a hotel booking will help the homeless. They currently focus on climate change, housing, hunger, youth, and reentry. 

Why Brand Purpose Matters

The most important part of a brand purpose is to take actions that align with your company’s goals. This should be unique, just like the unique value proposition of your products and services. It will make your company stand out in consumers’ minds, build loyalty, trust, and a sense of greater purpose.

Competitors companies with a similar brand purpose will not stand out. The second to imitate the initiative won’t generally benefit from the brand purpose initiative. While Toms is just another shoe company, they stand out because they give away free shoes. The same is true across market sectors: do something to stand out and make a difference.

Brand purpose matters because it is making the world a better place. When your grandchildren ask you what you did, the brand purpose is what you’ll tell them about. You don’t want to tell your grandchildren you grew a business by X amount; you want to tell them you helped prevent climate change, pioneered self-confidence in women, or helped homeless youth get professional training. 

Brand Purpose Final Thoughts

Brand purpose doesn’t just tell the story of what your company is about — it backs that story with concrete action integral to your unique value proposition. Brand purpose is the bigger picture to make a difference, while also building a better brand and product offering. 

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