Brand purpose 101

So, you’re building a brand. Maybe you’re just in need of a brand refresh. Where do you start? Branding is a complicated business and you really don’t want to mess it up. That’s why our approach to branding is from the ground up – we start with brand purpose. Strong brands are built on solid foundations. That means your brand purpose needs to be a sustainable and well-considered guiding principle that can easily weave its way into the other aspects of your brand. So here’s a quick crash course on brand purpose, with some brand purpose examples.

But wait… what is brand purpose?

Brand purpose is the heart of your organisation. It’s why you exist. More and more frequently, people are interested in why brands do what they do, rather than simply what it is they do. Brands with relatable purposes forge strong emotional connections with the public. They show people that they don’t simply exist to make money and sell goods or services; they exist to change the world in some way, and they happen to do that through selling goods and services.

Purpose is what guides every other aspect of your brand. It’s central to your brand identity. It’s the purpose that dictates your brand’s values and vision, and consequently, your positioning and personality.

Infographic showing how Purpose provides a foundation for the rest of the brand

 

Things to consider

The central nature of brand purpose makes it quite daunting. But there are a few guiding principles that can make it a bit more doable. If you have a branding agency helping you, you’ve already won half the battle. Together, you need to consider your purpose.

When thinking of your purpose, you need to think of a purpose that will consistently be achievable. It needs to be something you can easily weave into every other aspect of your brand. It’s going to be what guides everything from the services you offer to the tone you use in your copy.

Keep in mind, though, that your purpose can’t be completely arbitrary. Purpose means nothing if it isn’t informed by the market and the industry in which you operate, even if it evokes strong emotions.

 

Some HKLM brand purpose examples
Nedbank

“Money experts who do good.”

In 2017, with the help of HKLM, Nedbank underwent a brand overhaul. They changed their purpose to “Money experts who do good”. Of course, this change had knock-on effects all the way from brand positioning to visual identity and the business decisions the bank makes.

Their new purpose shaped heir 2020 vision which became “To be the most admired financial services provider in Africa”. If you unpack this vision you see the Nedbank purpose come to life. To be admired, let alone the most admired financial services provider, would require admirable qualities like financial expertise and a genuine desire to be humanitarian. These two core principles are carried throughout the Nedbank identity, right through to their #TeamUp4KZN campaign on Instagram.

 

Other brand purpose examples

Here are some global brand purpose examples so good they don’t even really need explaining.

Google

“To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

Coca-Cola

“To refresh the world.”

Dove

“To help women everywhere develop a positive relationship with the way they look, helping them raise their self-esteem and realise their full potential.”

Dove is one brand that really has got purpose right, and consistently, too. Over the years they have released numerous campaigns all unequivocally aligned to their purpose. Their #ShowUsCampaign with GettyImages and GirlGaze is one of their most recent examples and it demonstrates a masterful execution of aligning parts of the brand to a central purpose.

Brands that do brand purpose well stick out, regardless of whether or not you realise it’s because of their expertly crafted purpose, and how that purpose finds is way into other brand aspects and marketing campaigns.

Brand purpose is tricky to get right, but when you do, man, the world is your oyster.

Jessica Evans is a final-year Journalism and Media Studies student at Rhodes University. While she has experience in lifestyle and science writing, she has developed an interest in branding, HKLM’s speciality. She joined HKLM for a week and diverted her writing and editing skills towards a beat totally new to her. Jessica hopes to gain experience as a copywriter and to build her knowledge of the world of brands.

Jessica Evans

Jessica Evans is a final-year Journalism and Media Studies student at Rhodes University. While she has experience in lifestyle and science writing, she has developed an interest in branding, HKLM’s speciality. She joined HKLM for a week and diverted her writing and editing skills towards a beat totally new to her. Jessica hopes to gain experience as a copywriter and to build her knowledge of the world of brands.

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