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What’s Your Purpose?

What’s Your Purpose?



In the words of Simon Sinek, people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Your why as a brand is your purpose, it’s the single most motivating factor that makes people choose you and your No.1 competitive differentiator. You can’t just have a purpose that sits on your website under ‘Purpose and Values’, any more than you can say ‘I’m ethical’ but then do nothing about it. You need to turn the purpose into stories you tell about your brand and then actually live these stories and encourage your audience to live them too.

Imagine a brand that is so compelling that people will buy its products and fight for its purpose, a global brand that has 1000s of applicants for every role it advertises and never advertises its products. Patagonia has long been one of our favourite brands, an activist brand taking on the American government, calling out US states and big business for polluting the environment and funding an army of eco-minded crusaders.  They don’t bother advertising because they don’t want to. In fact they do the opposite, they actively encourage their audience not to buy their products and to repair them instead. Take only what you need they say.

There are other brands of course with purpose hard-baked into their business model – the brilliant Tom’s Shoes, ethical bank Triodos, the wonderful Lush as well as big players such Unilever’s Sustainable Living brands facing off against Kraft’s proposed takeover, Co-op’s long-standing Fairtrade campaigning, Tesla kicking our petrol fix and IKEA’s commitment to driving sustainable business. Why do people love these brands? Because they show what they care about, they wear their colours on their sleeves. None are perfect of course but they are committed and human, they are making a difference.

But does making a difference make business sense?

Well many of the brands above are market leaders, generating healthy profits by acting in a healthy way. In 2018 Unilever reported that its ‘Sustainable Living’ brands (including Ben & Jerry’s and Dove), grew 46% faster than the rest of its business last year – with these brands now accounting for 70% of total sales growth, up from 60% in 2017. And with a report by Mediacom telling us that 40% of consumers have either abandoned or never tried a brand because of its values or behaviours, living your brand purpose isn’t a nice to have, it’s a mission you can’t afford not to accept.

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