There was a time when I only trusted big brands for quality and support. And sometimes even for snob value 😉
Now, consumers are more conscious than ever of the brands they support. They are more conscious of the brands they trust and care more about just the products they buy. They want to know more about what the brand stands for.
That’s where purpose-driven brands come in.
They’re more than just a company with relevant products or services – they have a mission, beliefs, and values, and they connect deeply with their customers.
In this post, I will cover the meaning of a purpose-driven brand, provide data on how it drives sales, and give you tips to create your purpose-driven brand to grow your small business.
What is brand purpose?
A brand purpose is the reason a brand exists, beyond making money and achieving other business goals. It’s about a brand’s aim to make an impact in the world and make a difference in people’s lives.
A brand purpose can be as simple as making people’s lives fun or easier.
What are purpose-driven brands?
Purpose-driven brands are businesses that prioritize their mission to make an impact in society while achieving their core business goals. These brands are driven beyond just making profits, as they strive to solve specific problems for their audiences, or even societal or environmental issues.
Every decision a purpose-driven brand takes is guided by WHY it exists and does business.
While most businesses focus on WHAT they do or HOW they do it, purpose-driven brands focus on WHY they do it.
They’re built on the idea that businesses exist not just for making money, but also to genuinely help people, to be a force for good in the world. And they’re not just for big businesses. Purpose-driven brands can and should be created by small businesses and solopreneurs, too.
That is, businesses exist to genuinely help people and be a reasonable force in the world.
Thus it follows that these brands are authentic, transparent, and ethical.
– Jim Stengel, former CMO, Procter & Gamble
Purpose-driven brands have their purpose at the core of everything they do, from marketing, customer service, product development, etc. Everything they do reflects the brand’s higher goal, which is always evident in most of its brand imagery.
How does brand purpose drive sales?
A solid brand purpose can drive sales for your business in many ways, from enhancing emotional connections to boosting brand reputation and customer loyalty.
Your brand purpose helps differentiate your brand from others and influences the behavior of your target audience in many ways, helping to drive more leads and higher sales conversion.
Consumers are more loyal to brands that go beyond delivering the exceptional products and services they need to make a social or environmental impact.
A 2019 Deloitte study proved this, as more than 80% of consumers showed they’d be willing to pay more if a brand increased its prices to become more environmentally or socially responsible or pay higher wages to its employees.
Another study by the Zeno Group showed that consumers are 4X more likely to purchase from a purpose-driven brand and 4.5X more likely to recommend the brand to friends and family.
That goes to show how a purpose-driven brand drives sales.
They easily win over a significant part of their target audience who share similar values and purposes.
This enables them to command higher prices without losing customers. The customers see a justifiable use of the extra money they pay and might even see it as their way of contributing to society.
This humanitarian act connects the brand emotionally to the customers, giving them the feeling that by buying a pair of shoes, they’re helping a child who lacks shoes.
In this case, it’s easy to understand why these customers won’t care if the shoe cost is slightly higher than that of a normal pair.
Other non-sales benefits of brand purpose
Here are some non-sales benefits of a solid brand purpose:
1. Build brand differentiation
With the increasing competition among brands, brand purpose can be the differentiating factor between your brand and others.
It enables you to create a solid brand image by informing your brand’s vision, mission, story, and decision-making. It also plays a vital role in the creation of your visual identity elements, helping set your brand apart from its competition.
2. Enhances brand reputation
When your brand is driven by a meaningful purpose that is aimed at making the lives of your target audience and their environment better, it becomes easier to earn trust and respect.
A well-defined and solid brand purpose elevates your brand’s reputation – the target audience, customers, investors, and the public will see it as a brand that’s out to make an impact and not just make profits.
3. Attract the right stakeholders
A purpose-driven brand appeals greatly to job seekers, investors, and every well-meaning business stakeholder.
4. Create brand awareness
A well-defined brand purpose differentiates your small business from its competitors, making it easy to be seen in a crowded place.
It showcases you to the public, driving interactions, recommendations, and admiration from potential customers and employees.
5. Enhances innovation
Mission-driven brands are pacesetters in finding innovative solutions. A brand purpose drives the employees to research solutions that support the mission, resulting in new products, services, and processes.
6. Gives a clear direction
A solid brand purpose gives small businesses a clear sense of direction in a market filled with endless possibilities. There’s so much you can do and so many people you can target. Without a solid mission, it’s easier to lose focus.
When you know why your brand exists, it’s easier to decide about products or services and how to market them to your audience.
Even more, during crises, a solid brand purpose helps you build resilience, stay focused, and demonstrate a strong commitment to your mission.
7. Creates an emotional connection
Purpose-driven brands find it easier to connect with their audience on a deeper level, as they share the same values and are aligned toward the same goal.
With a strong emotional connection, you can build a loyal fan base that sticks to your brand, even during rough brand evolution processes. They understand your purpose and goals, and since your interests are aligned, they’re not easily swayed by mere marketing gimmicks like cheaper prices or bigger quantities from your competitors.
8. Increase investor confidence
One of the subtle benefits of a well-defined brand purpose is the increase in investor confidence.
When making decisions, investors are driven by a brand’s purpose and sustainability efforts.
Therefore, with an impactful brand purpose, you can attract socially responsible investors who are committed to the same purpose.
Examples of small businesses with purpose
Here are some examples of small businesses with a solid purpose:
TOMS is one of the best purpose-driven brands out there, as everything they do connects to a deeper purpose. This is evident in their brand slogan, “Start something that matters.”
TOMS’ brand purpose is, “We believe in a more equitable world. That’s why we invest 1/3 of our profits for grassroots’ good.”
You can see this purpose in everything TOMS does, from its One for One shoe model to its funding for eye surgeries, with a part of the profit made from its eyewear sales.
Even more, their Coffee roasting arm provides one week of clean water to a person in need for every bag of coffee sold.
2. The Little Market
The Little Market is another small business brand making a significant impact on society through a well-defined purpose. The brand aims to connect local artisans to the global market, helping them earn fair wages and sustain their communities.
These words clearly define their brand purpose: “Our mission is anchored in the fundamental belief that every person has the right to dignified, safe jobs and fair, living wages.”
Patagonia is one of the world’s most renowned advocates for environmental sustainability.
According to their brand purpose, “We’re in business to save our home planet,” you can see they’re clear on their reason for existence, which is to end the environmental crisis.
Beyond selling clothes, Patagonia partners with grassroots organizations and frontline communities to restore lands, air, and water to a state of health, reduce our use of fossil fuels, and address the connection between environmental destruction and social justice.
Bitty & Beau’s Coffee
Bitty & Beau’s Coffee is one of the most amazing, purpose-driven brands in the world. It’s not only focused on promoting an inclusive community but goes a notch further by practicing it.
Bitty & Beau’s Coffee advocates for people with disabilities, especially those with Down syndrome, pushing them to be accepted in corporate organizations as employees. They also employ mostly people with Down syndrome to run their shops in different parts of the United States.
The fact that most people see Bitty & Beau’s Coffee as a human rights movement disguised as a coffee shop proves that there’s a purpose beyond making profits for which they exist.
How to create purpose-driven brands
Creating a purpose-driven brand requires a deliberate process that involves introspection, careful planning, and a dedication to impacting society.
Here are important steps to follow to achieve that:
1. Define your purpose
To create a purpose-driven brand, you must start by defining your brand’s purpose. This requires you to define your brand’s mission and core values and identify the social or environmental issues that align with them.
Often, these issues depict the deepest concerns of your target audience, and solving them means providing them with the solutions they need.
2. Integrate your purpose
Once your brand’s purpose is defined, the next step is to embed it into every aspect of your brand, from operations to customer service, marketing, etc. The impact of your purpose will be felt more when it informs your decision-making and daily operations.
Purpose-driven brands are identified by how every action they take, whether proactive or reactive, reflects their brand’s core purpose. Even in times of dispute, their core purpose is reflected in the dispute resolution decisions.
3. Engage your stakeholders
Your employees and partners play a vital role in ensuring your customers and society feel the impact of your brand’s purpose-driven activities.
Therefore, it’s best to involve them in your initiatives, decisions, and actions. They’re the carriers and first beneficiaries of your brand purpose.
4. Communicate your purpose
Once your brand purpose is integrated into your operations and decision-making, and your stakeholders are involved in all of these, the next thing is to communicate it to the public and the intended beneficiaries.
Smart businesses share and communicate their brand story using authentic brand storytelling techniques – telling beautiful and compelling stories that reflect in all their operations, products, and services.
5. Measure the impact
Ensure to set clear goals and metrics to measure the impact of your brand purpose.
Metrics such as the customer satisfaction score, customer retention rate, employee satisfaction, social return on investment, number of lives touched, revenue from purpose-driven products or services, and more are vital examples.
Tips to create a purpose-driven brand that drives sales
While studies show that consumers prefer brands that prioritize purpose over profit, that doesn’t mean you should neglect profit. Profit fuels your purpose-driven activities and helps you make more impact in society.
This is especially true for small businesses, as they don’t have other brands to offset the losses from their purpose-driven endeavors.
Here are a few ways to ensure your purpose-driven activities drive sales for your brand:
1. Focus exclusively on your target audience
Customer-centric brands understand that their reason for existing is to provide premium solutions to their target audience and community. This means their target audience is central to every purpose-driven activity they undertake.
Conduct thorough research to ensure you provide solutions your target audience finds quite helpful. With a well-defined brand purpose rooted in your brand’s products and services, it’s easier to attract customers whose interests align with the values you share in your solutions.
For example, if you’re a solopreneur selling eco-friendly goods, you’ll want to ensure you’re targeting green-minded consumers.
2. Create the right products or services
Creating a purpose-driven brand that drives sales requires you to focus on creating products or services that support your mission. This might mean slightly adjusting your offerings and the content you create to ensure they align with your brand purpose.
For example, if your brand aims to promote healthy living, consider selling fitness equipment or healthy food products.
Similarly, if your purpose is to ensure the peaceful coexistence of humans and some domestic pets, consider opening a pet community, creating educational pet courses, or writing a book on making your pet part of your family.
Taking this approach ensures you stay on brand, make sales, and drive revenue growth for your business.
3. Create a story that connects with your audience
Customers will find it easier to see the value of your products or services if you position them in a way that resonates with them.
You can do this by creating a brand story that captures the concerns of your ideal customer and how your solutions were helpful to them.
You can also tell a story of how your brand came into existence, letting them know about your ill experiences (which are similar to their current ordeals) and how you set out on a mission to address them.
Get a FREE, detailed guide to creating your brand story
4. Pay attention to your competitors
Oftentimes, your purpose is similar to that of your competitors. What might differ is the approach.
Therefore, to create a purpose-driven brand that drives sales, take an in-depth look at your competitors and examine what they’re doing right and wrong.
A detailed competitive analysis will help you create a purpose-driven brand that drives results.
Create a competitive positioning map to enable you:
- Develop a straightforward brand promise
- Create a brand visual identity and color palette that match your purpose
- Develop clear brand and marketing messages and brand adjectives that resonate with your audience.
5. Align all brand activities with your brand purpose
Your brand purpose is like your north star; it guides all your activities and helps you drive results.
Ensure your brand purpose informs all your business and marketing decisions, from creating your brand identity elements to how you communicate with your target audience.
For example, if you want to address environmental issues, you might want to design or package your products with environmentally sustainable materials.
6. Create a community
Some of the best purpose-driven brands are known for building communities around their brands. They create a safe space where people who share the same values as the brand come to know and support each other.
The goal is to make them understand that they’re not alone in their course and that others are ready to go to any length to ensure their collective mission is achieved.
As people driven by the same purpose, it won’t take time for everybody to align and come up with better solutions to help the brand achieve its purpose.
Top 20 purpose-driven brands you should know
Here are the top 20 purpose-driven brands you can study and emulate to make the world a better place:
- Apple is committed to making the best products to enrich people’s lives.
- Nike aims to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. To Nike, if you have a body, you’re an athlete.
- Coca-Cola’s brand purpose is to refresh the world and make a difference.
- Amazon is looking to be earth’s most customer-centric company.
- Starbucks is working to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.
- TOMS – to help build a more equitable world, starting from the grassroots.
- Uber aims to provide transportation as reliable as running water everywhere for everyone.
- Airbnb works to create a world where anyone can belong anywhere.
- Walmart’s purpose is to save people money so they can live better.
- Toyota aims to lead the future mobility society, enriching lives around the world with the safest and most responsible ways of moving people.
- Pfizer? To create breakthroughs that change people’s lives.
- Google’s purpose is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
- General Electric aims to move, power, and cure the world.
- IKEA – to create a better everyday life for the many people.
- Tesla’s brand purpose is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.
- Ford aims to help build a better world where every person is free to move and pursue their dreams.
- Samsung’s is to devote its talent and technology to creating superior products and services that contribute to a better global society.
- Disney aims to entertain, inform, and inspire people around the globe.
- Microsoft is working to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more
- Dove’s brand purpose is to encourage all women and girls to realize their full potential.
The future of purpose-driven branding
Purpose-driven branding hasn’t reached its full potential, as brands are evolving to cater to the needs of their immediate environment.
With the constant changes in consumer expectations, ability to switch at will, the increase in global challenges, and technological advancements, it’s clear there’s a greater need for brands to become more purpose-driven.
As brands strive to meet changing customer expectations, solve global challenges, and adapt to technological advancements, they’ll reap the fruits of purpose-driven branding.
Brands will champion sustainability and environmental responsibility by prioritizing eco-friendly practices, enabling the reduction of waste, and promoting recycling.
Furthermore, the masses will benefit more because as more brands compete to make an impact, society becomes a lot better.
Increase your branding and sales by making your brand purpose-driven
A solid brand purpose enables you to achieve business goals and make a meaningful impact in your environment. It helps you build a brand that’s not only loved for the quality of its products or services, but also for the lives it touches.
Hopefully, this article has given you the right insights into what a purpose-driven brand means and how to build one to meet your goals.