Finding Meaning in the Marketing

Finding Meaning in the Marketing Header

Once upon a time, there was a busy world filled with happy workers who would go to their office buildings every day, type away on their computers, have lunch with their friends, go to a few meetings and then go home, satisfied with the work they had done.

Then, a great plague came and traveled to every corner of the globe, infecting the workers with sickness and fear. They stayed in their homes. Outside, there were protests and demonstrations. There were floods and fires and droughts. Many people quit their jobs.
They wondered, “What does it all mean?”

Woman sitting atop a compass

Now, more than ever, people want to find meaning in their work as well as the brands they consume and interact with on a daily basis. When you earnestly invest in developing and maintaining your brand’s purpose, you not only keep employees happy and productive, but also create meaningful engagement with consumers that builds brand loyalty and advocacy.

  • Research firm Accenture found 64% of global consumers find brands that actively communicate their purpose more attractive.
  • 52% say they are more attracted to buy from one brand over another if it stands for something bigger than just the products and services it sells — especially if that something aligns with their personal values.
  • Not only that, but another report found that 79% of Americans said they were more loyal to purpose brands, and 78% said they would tell others to buy from those brands.
Woman sitting atop a compass
Building a purpose-driven brand is not just about optimizing your business’s long-term value. It’s about developing genuine connections with your audience — a must for attracting Millennial and Gen Z consumers.

These findings aren’t a blip in the cultural trendline, but evidence of a bigger movement that’s here to stay. Way back in 2016, EY Beacon Institute found that the public conversation around corporate and organizational purpose had increased five times since 1994, trending upward at a rate that surpassed even that of public discussion around sustainability.

Clearly, purpose-driven brands are the way of the future…but what does that mean for your marketing efforts? Here’s a brief overview of some things to consider for your brand.

What do you stand for?

A brand purpose is “the act of doing things intentionally” or an articulation of why a company does what it does, and for whom it creates value. More simply put, it’s the why behind your what. Everyone is in business to make money — that much is obvious. But why are you in this line of business? What is your core mission?

Brand purpose drives everything you do — from how you pursue growth to where you allocate your investments. Define the reason why your company or product exists (whether to solve a problem or meet a need in society) and use it to inform your brand vision, mission, narrative, identity and as a framework for future decisions.

“Working hard for something you don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something you love is called passion.” – Simon Sinek

A strong brand purpose can unify
employees and:

  •  Encourage Innovation. Purpose-oriented companies report 30% higher levels of innovation, Deloitte reports. Unified by a clear company purpose that aligns with their own, teams are more collaborative and positive, which results in more inspired ideas.
  • Drive Productivity. Motivated by their company’s purpose, “inspired employees” output as much as two “satisfied” employees. Research by Bain and Company found that the productivity of an employee inspired by the company’s purpose is 225%.
  • Provide Direction. 73% of business leaders believe a well-integrated purpose will help their company navigate disruption – an incredible competitive advantage at a time when many factors continue to create volatile and unpredictable markets. A strong sense of purpose keeps brands focused on long-term goals and helps discourage knee-jerk reactions (which often prove costly) to
    short-term and unexpected disruptions.
  • Increase Retention. McKinsey found
    that 70% of employees feel their sense
    of purpose is defined by their work.
    By keeping employees connected to
    the mission of an organization, you can increase their satisfaction in their role
    and help them see they make an impact.
    Leaders of purpose-driven brands are
    also three times more likely to retain their employees, giving them an additional measure of stability in uncertain times.
There are 85 million consumers who are motivated to buy products and services based on a company’s purpose (Dynata) and 72% of Gen Z consumers in the U.S. factoring in a company’s purpose when shopping (Cone).

Are you engaging your employees?

Most employees have other options when it comes to where they work. But like you, they’re interested in more than just making money. They expect their jobs to bring a significant sense of purpose to their lives.

Because we spend nearly 1,820 hours a year at work, our lives are in-part defined by what we “do for a living” and who we “work for.” But more employees are asking “why,” and questioning if their company’s mission aligns with their values. Promoting a well-defined brand purpose (reinforced by your company culture) both internally and externally is a great way to motivate employees and attract talent.

Yellow arrow with purple Chuck Taylor shoes at the bottom

On Purpose:
A Brand We Admire

Remember, you don’t have to save the world — just make your corner of it a little better.

For decades, Zappos has been a self-proclaimed “customer-obsessed company that focuses on delivering a WOW experience.” Their brand promise is “to inspire the world by showing it’s possible to simultaneously deliver happiness to consumers, as well as employees, vendors, shareholders and the community, in a long-term, sustainable way.”

Did it work? The e-commerce retailer went from $1.6 million in gross sales in 1999 to a $1.2 billion acquisition by Amazon just 10 years later — all by delivering on its promise to “deliver happiness” through the four C’s: Commerce, Customer Service, Company Culture, Community.

In Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose, Zappos’ late founder Tony Hseih revealed that the company offered new hires $4,000 to quit, all to ensure those who stayed were passionate about a purpose beyond a paycheck.

What’s Your why?

How "actively" are you promoting your brand purpose?

 Your company’s purpose doesn’t need to be as lofty as “in business to save the home planet” (Patagonia) or “entertain the world” (Netflix) for consumers to care. It just needs to be true to you and the value you bring to your audience. (But ideally sound just as catchy.)

As the cornerstone of your brand, your purpose may pivot but will not change drastically. This permanence can be so intimidating that you only feel comfortable expressing it in a complicated, cumbersome paragraph on your “about” page.

But true purpose-driven brands thrive on clarity and consistency. A clear and concise statement can be all you need to weave your “why” in your brand executions. This makes it as easy for consumers to self-identify with your higher purpose, even if it’s as simple as “continuing my family’s legacy of making the best pie in Louisville, KY.”

For your purposes to resonate with purpose-driven purchasers, it needs refinement and reinforcement in your brand activations

Here are four ways you can evaluate the effectiveness of your brand purpose and the role it plays in your marketing strategy:

1.   Audit your external and internal properties.
Go through your website and intranet and ask yourself: Where does my brand purpose appear? Is the statement and/or concept weaved throughout the content, or isolated on an about page? Is my digital UX aligned with my purpose (especially if I value innovation, simplicity, ease of use)?

2.   Interview your employees’ co-workers
across departments and management levels. Ask them: Do you know our company’s brand purpose? Do you feel that our brand purpose aligns with the culture at our organization? When was the last time you read or heard our brand purpose? Do you feel connected to our brand purpose? Evaluate the results and refine talking points and turn employees into advocates.

3.   Revisit your “always on” brand campaigns.
Does your creative include anything about your “why”? Or is your PPC or paid social messaging exclusively focused on the “what” you do, as in your product or service offering? Is your purpose referenced anywhere on your landing page?

4.   Look for opportunities to go the extra mile. Can your brand carry its purpose further in your brand activations? Maybe you can switch to more sustainable packaging to reinforce your commitment to conservation, offer non-binary gender sizes if you value inclusivity, or improve your return policy if you value customer experience.

When brands infuse marketing with purpose, higher profits follow. It’s one of the few times doing the right thing is also the easy thing. When brands think people-first, employees and consumers alike can find comfort and community in a shared sense of meaning. By defining your “why”, engaging your employees, and activating your purpose, you can do more than just connect – you can build bonds.