The 6 critical steps to activate Purpose within your business

June 27, 2023
B2B Employee insights Customer insights Brand positioning Brand strategy

A strong brand purpose is one of the few genuine ways of connecting your business strategy and people to your brand’s positioning. Through this connection, your people can truly understand what makes your brand different.

This ownable, actionable insight describes the impact your brand will make on the lives of your target consumers, as well as the underlying motivation for your business to exist beyond generating a profit. It resides at the intersection of what your brand offers the world and your consumer’s deepest cares and desires.

It allows your people to understand then deliver the desired customer experience.

And with trust in such short supply, the notion that brands can and should benefit people and communities (not just shareholders) is an appealing and surely valuable one.

For employees, unsure about job security and tired of bureaucracy, purpose offers a belief that day-to-day actions can deliver longer term benefit beyond the immediate ‘four walls’ of our working worlds.

When we look to the growing number of consumers seeking brands whose values match their own, purpose is the reason to buy, and to buy repeatedly.

It’s no wonder we see businesses searching to imbue their brand with a deeper reason to exist. And no wonder that when they define a purpose that is authentic and resonant, it has a powerful and positive impact. To ensure purpose is prioritised and brought to life sustainably across your business, consider the following 6 steps.

What to consider as you bring purpose to life within your business

  1. Understand the foundations of your existing business motivation and drivers

Conducting a review of the history and origins of your company is a great starting point when interrogating purpose. If you’ve already begun to build your purpose, take the opportunity to go deeper, interviewing founders, early employees, early customers, and so forth. Consider how you might articulate your purpose to delve more deeply into the identity of your organisation. If you’re developing a new purpose statement, recognising the past and embarking on a process of discovery will lead you to a clearly defined, relevant and credible purpose statement.

  1. Stress test the moments of truth

Ensuring your purpose statement is credible, relevant, sustainable and unique can become more difficult when put under a spotlight and pressure. We call these ‘moments of truth’, where you must actively consider and plan how the business would act in challenging circumstances or in times of turmoil. When crises arise, define them in relation to the purpose, treating them as moral decision points. Take the opportunity to cement the purpose even more in employees minds and establish its continued validity. Your purpose statement needs to be a guiding mechanism for internal stakeholders, one that assists them in this process. It needs to be realistic and actionable, not unsubstantiated or misleading to stakeholders.

  1. Connect the past with the future

Whilst it is critical to acknowledge the history and foundations of your purpose, it’s important not to let the past dictate the future. Oversimplified, you don’t need to necessarily adhere exclusively to how things were done in the past, where practices and priorities were different. Your purpose statement should be aligned to the future strategy of your business, allowing it to guide this desired destination. In the end, aim to arrive at a harmonious blend of your history and future vision.

  1. Embrace your people and their role in delivering purpose

Training your people in principled decision making so that they can translate purpose into simple and comprehensible actions will ensure it remains relevant to their roles and responsibilities. Decisions should be driven by purpose, and the business needs to support this with rewards that recognise employees who live and embrace purpose.

  1. Define a purpose narrative and bring it to life emotionally

If you’re used to talking in silos about the impact your offering has on individual segments and customer groups, it can become difficult for employees across your entire business to align with your purpose statement. Too often within corporate organisations, individual departments create their own frameworks for customer decision making and competing purpose statements arise. Be sure to craft an emotionally relevant purpose narrative, one that speaks to your entire business and aligns authentically to your brand’s intent, and how your people can own this and live it every day. This narrative should recognise and explain the moral compass of your entire company.

  1. Encourage the business to live your purpose every day, and then track and measure to ensure it remains accountable across the business

If some of your leadership behaviours conflict with your purpose, it’s critical to change them. But then go further and consider steps you might take during your day-to-day work to better embody your organisational purpose and the values that underlie it. These can range from small gestures to bigger and more strategic decisions in the business.

And given purpose can be closely connected to sales and growth, business indicators exist for senior executives to ensure accountability, with metrics that help to measure performance against purpose. These metrics can include brand value and reputation, employee engagement, innovation as well as a more granular look at environmental, social & corporate governance and D&I metrics.

Businesses need to proactively plan for purpose that matters. To do this, they need to develop realistic purpose statements that will reinforce their activities, have robust metrics in place to stay on course, and systematically reassess their purpose, to ensure their longevity within evolving markets.

Bringing purpose alive within your organisation requires universal effort and engagement

By following these steps as you look to embrace purpose within your business, your people will be engaged and confident in the direction of the company. They will understand what is required of them to live this purpose in their everyday roles as they interact with your customers and clients. Unlike typical change-management exercises, deep purpose gets to the heart of why your business exists. Little by little, it forces a recalibration of your organisation’s role in the world, as well as its relationship with employees, customers, and society at large.

At BrandMatters, we believe that a strong purpose statement is critical in guiding successful and sustainable brand and business strategy. We have worked with a number of clients in the last 24 months now realise the potency and potential of a strong purpose statement.

If you would like assistance on crafting a purpose statement. Or looking for guidance on how to embed it in your organisation reach out to us here

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