Brand Purpose – do you know your ‘why’?

Brook Calverley , Nov 15,2017

During our recent Breakfast Club we hosted a discussion led by Sasha Hardman, Global HRD Allen & Overy and David McCormack, HR Director for Allied Irish Bank.

It was a fascinating session, with great insights around how to encourage new ways of working in complex and challenging environments.

One of the biggest topics to emerge was the importance of purpose.

This got us thinking. We know the crucial role purpose plays in fostering a genuine brand-led culture, but couldn’t find a good set of principles that explain why it matters so much.

So we thought we’d write one; sharing and building upon some of the ideas that surfaced during our session.

First though: what is brand purpose? For us, it’s simply an expression of why you do what you do; the stuff that goes beyond the functional, that answers a bigger question for your customers (think, top of Maslow hierarchy).

It matters because it allows brands to powerfully inspire and connect with people. That’s the basic premise behind eight ideas we’ve distilled around why organisations need to understand, communicate and stay true to their purpose.


  1. It speaks on an emotional level

By answering to our higher-order needs you move the conversation from functional to emotional level, one that provides opportunity for a far stronger bond.


  1. Provides deeper meaning

Purpose helps customers and employees understand your motivation – a back-story that adds more meaning to what you do.


  1. Purpose creates relevance

It provides an additional platform to connect on, something else that can make you more relevant to people.


  1. Drives trust and choice

Providing you’re true to your purpose, that meaning and relevance inspires customers and employees to trust you and chose to work and buy from you.


  1. Simplifies jargon

Purpose cuts through brand story, brand vision, brand mission, brand objectives… don’t let anyone tell you your brand needs more than one of these. And Purpose is the best one (see above).


  1. Is the glue for your culture

Purpose helps you navigate changes and challenges. When everyone in the business is signed-up and committed to the same thing it holds you together and provides a reason to keep going.


  1. Inspires you to go further

Purpose helps you grow and perform better too, by giving your people something more motivating and inspiring to shoot for.


  1. Purpose Is not CSR

A brand purpose doesn’t always need to have a big social mission. One of our favourite brands simply wants to make shopping sociable and fun. The main thing is your purpose is authentic, meaningful, positive; and that it answers to something human.


How do you define your Brand Purpose?


We think you begin by answering three questions.

Imagine your answers in a Venn diagram; your purpose will probably lie in the space where they intersect.

  • What do you really, honestly care about
  • What human needs could you credibly address
  • What are you actually capable of doing

What do you think? Can you answer these three questions for your brand?