Is brand purpose becoming a cliché?

Earlier this month, the leaders of 14 high-profile UK brands committed to focus on the wellbeing of employees, local communities and wider society, implicitly recognising the importance of purpose beyond a simple profit motive.

This is great news for all of us and even more powerful when you look at the breadth of sectors represented in The Purpose Tapes interviews from the not-for-profit consortium, The Purposeful Company.

The impressive list includes Mohit Joshi, president of Infosys; John Pettigrew, chief executive of National Grid; Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England; Alison Rose, chief executive of NatWest; and Alan Jope, chief executive of Unilever.

Combined, these 14 organisations employ around 2 million people and manage £1 trillion of investment assets. A number of them already have purpose and value statements and some, like Unilever, own a number of brands with B Corp status.

The report is yet further recognition of increasing consumer demand for purpose-driven brands and employee wellbeing post Covid.

But if everyone is now reworking their positioning and jumping on the brand purpose bandwagon, how do you ensure that your business stands out and is authentic in its purpose?

The key is identifying and communicating your purpose effectively with all stakeholders, both internally and externally.

At Designhouse, we have long recognised the importance of demonstrating purpose at the heart of an organisation’s brand DNA. Identifying purpose is a collaborative process, involving research and insight from employees, stakeholders and customers to establish how people really feel about the business and how this sits alongside the strategic aims of the organisation going forward.

According to The Purposeful Company, having purpose “brings strategic clarity, operational discipline around what’s material to stakeholders and more meaningful work for employees”.

But it isn’t enough simply to identify brand purpose and hope that everyone gets the message.

To succeed, organisations must develop co-ordinated, effective communication campaigns, cascading the message about purpose throughout the organisation and encouraging employees to actively engage and become powerful and authentic brand ambassadors.

This can be seen at EMCOR UK, where their new purpose-led strategy A better world at work has had a significant effect on employee engagement levels, with a notable rise in scores around engaged purpose and engaged leaders, as well as anecdotal evidence that the new purpose is resonating with candidates at interview.

External campaigns are being communicated within the context of the newly defined brand purpose, in the case of ‘Workplace 9’ leading to a 15% increase in general customer enquiries.

So, in answer to the question posed, brand purpose is not becoming a cliché. But it must be communicated effectively in order to deliver tangible and measurable results.

The stakes here are high. The Purposeful Company estimated in 2016 that the cost of ignoring clear corporate brand purpose, where all stakeholders were united in common goals and values, potentially exceeded £130 billion a year for British business.

We’d love to hear from you if you would like to discuss communicating your brand purpose.

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To read more about The Purpose Tapes from The Purposeful Company

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