5 steps to help you define your brand’s “why”
Defining your brand purpose is one of the most important things you can do to build a successful business. In your overall brand strategy, your brand purpose highlights the “why” of your business.
It’s why you do what you do, the deeper purpose behind your services and products, and is just as important for a personal brand as it is for a global organization.
Your brand purpose complements and even helps define your values, mission, and vision. For clarification, your brand values are the qualities that define your behaviour as a brand. Your brand mission is what you do to achieve your goals, or the strategies you use to get there. Your brand vision shows what you want to accomplish, what you aspire to or where you want to be in the future.
Why is your brand purpose so essential?
Your brand purpose conveys how you add value to the world, and specifically to the lives of your individual clients. An effective brand purpose that is unique to you differentiates you from your competitors and helps you build an emotional relationship with your customers, one they won’t find anywhere else.
This means customers who identify with your purpose are more likely to choose you over others who offer similar services. They’ll engage with you more, trust you to solve their problems, and are more likely to commit their loyalty to you.
This is ultimately great for business, too. The best performing businesses are driven by brand purpose, growing faster than their competitors, and becoming more profitable.
A word of caution: this doesn’t mean that you should create meaning where there isn’t any. Worse yet, don’t lie about what you stand for. Customers are savvy and they will figure out if you are disingenuous or hypocritical. Nor is this about any CSR (corporate social responsibility) initiatives or charitable donations you might be involved with.
Focus on your unique purpose as a brand, where your services and products are tools to help you and your customers achieve that purpose.
Step 1: Identify your beliefs and values
Think about what you believe in and what you’re willing to fight for. What are the issues you are passionate about?
Grab a notebook and start writing down notes as you consider the following. Think about what motivated you to start or get into your business. What change did you want to impact? How do you believe your brand can make that change? Try to explain why you are uniquely suited to causing that change, and why you and your customers benefit from pursuing that purpose.
If you’re struggling with those broader questions, try narrowing it down. How does your business improve the everyday lives of your customers? How does it positively impact how they feel? What is the deeper emotional benefit of solving your customers’ pain points?
Step 2: Contextualize your brand purpose
Once you have some notes jotted down, look over each point and consider whether they matter to your target audience. Consider how this fits within the cultural context of your ideal client and the communities they belong to.
Remember when Rihanna launched Fenty Beauty and offered shades and colours “for all skin tones”? It resonated deeply with potential customers who had, up to that point, felt like their needs had been largely unheard and unmet.
What sets you apart from your competitors? What is special about your values, beliefs, and commitments?
Step 3: Define your true value
What is the real value your brand offers to customers?
If you provide financial services, then your services might be something like helping clients financial advice. However, perhaps the true value you offer clients is peace of mind knowing that they’re making wise investments towards their retirement.
If you are a career coach, you might help your clients with career planning, but the real value you offer could lie in the learning that offers life-long career satisfaction.
Do you offer the feeling of luxury at a lower cost? Do you celebrate beauty in everyone, just as they are? Are you offering confidence or creating joy?
(Are you seeing the pattern here?)
What is the deeper emotional value that clients associate with the services or products you offer, and how does that connect with your overall purpose?
Step 4: Write your brand purpose statement
Alright, a few tips:
- Write one sentence, two at most if you absolutely have to.
- Keep your statement clear, concise, and easy to understand. This will make it easier for you to communicate your purpose.
- Address the true value you provide, how you do it uniquely, and whom it’s for.
- Look over your statement and cut any fluff or vague wording.
Step 5: Apply consistently
Finally, think about how you will express your brand purpose.
Surprise! You don’t have to tell customers “My brand purpose is ….”. It’s not a legal requirement to post your brand purpose statement to your website or your Instagram profile.
You can, if you want to, but mostly, the exercise of writing it down is meant to give you an internal compass to guide your business and brand decisions. Your brand purpose should be evident in the things you do, the services you provide, and the messages you communicate.
Refer back to your statement when you are thinking about what services or products to offer, and which you shouldn’t. Use your brand purpose to guide you when deciding who you collaborate with, and who you don’t. Assess your marketing and communications based on whether they align with your overall purpose.
Your brand purpose will remind you why you got into your business in the first place, and motivate you to keep going. It will also give your customers a reason to care about you, and to keep coming back to you.
Interested in more topics on brand-building? Check out my (growing) suite of resources on the subject!