Why defining purpose makes brands essential

It’s the corporate version of the big, existential question: why are we here? Finding that answer is a challenge but the rewards have never been more wide-ranging and powerful.

Defining a clear purpose is a reaction to a number of transformational changes in both society and the workforce. There’s been a huge shift in expectations. More and more people now insist on working for companies that share their personal values. They’re looking for meaning in the jobs they take and the products they buy. In the recruiting battle, that salary offer and 401K better come with an ethical stance, transparency, and an action plan for the greater good. 

Technological changes have also disrupted the old school relationship between company and employee. People are now more empowered and hold brands to a higher standard. When they come to management for answers, there better be a meaningful one. One that speaks to purpose, loud and clear.

The benefits of purpose ripple across the entire organization. Purpose-driven brands build internal culture, energize company values, create market differentiation, guide sustainability and CSR efforts, and in so doing, raise their profile on Wall Street and in the media.   

This isn’t just a lofty statement on the About Us page of the company website. Purpose is all business. People who work for purpose-driven companies are more inventive, curious, and energetic. They’re more dedicated, collaborative, and learn new skills faster. Purpose is the ultimate recruiting tool for attracting and keeping the best talent.

It’s no small task. For every Patagonia, Nestle, and Tom’s Shoes, there are tens of thousands of companies struggling to define the deeper reason for their existence. It also requires thoughtful implementation to connect the dots with business realities and develop the communications that put purpose into action.  

Our work on purpose is helping both B2B and B2C brands build greater meaning into what they do. For a global technology company like KLA, it was embracing a sense of optimism, while our work with Milliken touched not only on corporate responsibility but reimagining where the company would be in the next 150 years.

For StoryBlocks, a creative community offering affordable stock imagery, their purpose set them apart from expensive competitors like Getty and Image Bank. They gave a new generation of creators the freedom to tell their stories regardless of the small size of their production budgets.

Our work with online eyewear pioneer Zenni centered around their goal of democratizing prescription lenses and frame. The functional story was price; the meaningful story was about empowerment and self-expression.

In short, defining a company’s purpose is an exercise in amplification. Purpose-driven brands create greater loyalty and admiration, inspire their internal culture, and attract smarter, more motivated employees. Ultimately, they make themselves essential as a business and meaningful to society.

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