Brand purpose & innovation consultant Vijay Solanki discussed the effect of purpose-led marketing and brand strategy with FutureYou. We’re sharing his insightful comments with you, so that you can apply the same approach to your organisation or your career.
Research data points to consumer preference for brands with purpose.
We’re now at a pivotal moment in history, with climate change and global warming, ferocious bush fires, waste and recycling, and the general state of the environment and the planet at the forefront of everyone’s mind, particularly millennials.
This influences consumer spending and company profitability, as well as employee recruitment and retention, and needs to be front and centre of every business... But there has to be a way of measuring it.
A recent survey of 26,000 consumers’ attitudes to over 100 brands, that correlates a measure of purpose (NPI – Net Purpose Impact) against a measure of preference (Net Promoter Score (NPS) from Bain), showed by category the brands that score high for both purpose and for preference. In automotive, brands like Tesla; In tech brands like Google, in finance, brands like Paypal and so on. These are the brands that consumers are saying make the world a better place as well as being brands they would recommend. There is growing evidence that shows brands with purpose simply perform better commercially. That said the brand and business journey has to carefully mapped to avoid ‘green-washing’ and damaging the brand’s reputation in the eyes of consumers.
So what processes need to be put in place to engage both customers and employees with your brand?
Three steps to start your company’s purpose-led journey.
1. Audit your business and its customers for purpose-related activity and positioning.
- How purpose-led is your business?
- Do you work with charities, do you run a CSR program or is the core of what you do as a business, purpose-driven?
- How do your customers see you?
- What do they value when it comes to purpose?
Perhaps you will find purpose-driven activities and programs that could be scaled up. Perhaps there are programs that will drive consumer preference and are still close to what you do currently.
2. Examine economic trends and global best practices.
Look at companies, in Australia and worldwide, who are adopting a purpose-led brand strategy and corporate vision:
- How do they do it? What can you learn from them?
- What commercial impact did their purpose-driven program have on their business?
3. Plot your own company vision and strategy.
Decide how your organisation can add value and make people’s lives better in a way that still provides a commercial outcome for your company:
- Is there a societal problem or need you can address?
- Is there something that connects with who you are and what you do as a business?
- How can you use your people, programs and products to solve the problem?
- Will customers pay for you to do this?
- Or will it drive brand preference so you can increase market share?
- Will your employee brand score increase?
This will lead you to create a brand that your customers and employees value, with a resulting profit improvement. If necessary, start with small projects rather than shooting for the moon, with its attendant risks. But do start – that’s the important part.
Leadership mindset can be a barrier.
Purpose-led brand strategy needs to start at the top but must permeate the entire leadership team. The CEO can’t do it alone if his team’s mindset is on a different page. Demonstrate how it links back to profitability, otherwise at some point they’ll revert to ‘business as usual’. Just like any innovation, it must become the new normal.
Measuring the ROI of a purpose-led approach.
So how do you measure whether your customers believe you’re making the world a better place, and therefore buying your products or services?
You need to be sure that enough of your customers care about purpose in a way that links to your brand. Check that first through research.
Start with a pilot program and see if that drives preference and market share growth through a purpose-led initiative. Use that data to show the business and especially the CFO, the impact of purpose on profit. Test, learn and scale. Use the data and make sure you find the correlation between purpose-driven activity, preference and ultimately, profit.
This is a team sport that includes marketing, supply chain, finance and others. Find the early adopters in your business and create a team to drive this type of initiative.
If you’ve taken the steps outlined above, and then go back and survey your customers to see if there’s an improvement in six or 12-months’ time, you may see an uptick in NPS but you won’t convince the CFO until there’s a measurable return on investment improvement. That may take longer, and maybe we need to move away from the pressure on CEOs to deliver growth in every month or quarter.
Brands with a purpose attract employees too.
There is another piece of the picture: Employee Value Proposition and attracting the best talent, again especially among millennials. They want to know the business is doing good as well as making money. It’s yet another reason for adopting purpose-led marketing.
Purpose alignment is not yet the number one reason why potential recruits are attracted to roles, but it could be within three to five years. You might see candidates who are prepared to forego maximum salary because they have pride in what the business actually does for society. They see that the company is focused on a bigger need than just profit so they are prepared to do the same also.
That said, this is not about businesses becoming charities or even turning up their CSR initiatives. It’s the simple principle that a company that does goodwill do well!
FutureYou understands the importance of purpose as a driver.
Are you looking to attract purpose-driven top talent? Our recruitment specialists can help.
Or are you looking for a new role at a purpose-led organisation. Check out the available job opportunities.