Why your brand needs a purpose

This is a post from PRISM’s Social Army – regular briefings on topics aligned to our business or close to our hearts. Today’s entry is from Tajdar O. Chaudry from the Ford Content Factory in Bangkok.

As individuals, we often struggle to find the purpose in our lives. In its pursuit, we start associating with a set of ideals that form the very foundation of our instinctive identities and we find ourselves most engaged when approaching crossroads that challenge those ideals; most driven, when that convergence leads to their fulfillment.

That’s a simple, comprehensible human truth, yet one that’s often an afterthought in marketing planning in 2017. In the pursuit of tangible justifications, the intangible is too often ignored. We do so at our peril in the digitally prolific present, as the rising tide of consumer distrust is giving way to an immunized audience whose psyches have built up the relevant antibodies to resist traditional (read: ancient) marketing methodologies.

Simply put, they don’t believe (and in some cases, don’t even want to see) what your brand has to offer unless it speaks to their values as individuals.

Richard Branson recently said, “Brands that will thrive in the coming years – both financially and in terms of their impact on the globe – are the ones that have purpose beyond profit.” And, long before him, Henry Ford said, “A business that makes nothing but money, is a poor business.” These visionaries aren’t wrong and these words will continue to be the standard for success for years to come.


In order to build a thriving enterprise, brands have to identify, embrace, embody, and articulate a brand purpose that inspires their audience to connect with them. In order for purpose to make a noticeable impact on a business, brands must prove to consumers that they are committed and transparent in their mission.

Further proof of this can be found in Edelman’s 2016 Earned Brand Study, which concluded that “the modern consumer is looking for more than just tamper-proof bottles and affordable jeans. They want relationships with brands that reflect their values and create positive change in the world. A narrow focus on the classic purchase funnel from Marketing 101 is blinding brands to greater possibilities, when they could be engaging with fans and followers in ways that can enhance both their reputations and their bottom lines.

Brand Purpose isn’t just another marketing buzzword, it’s a strong driver of sales, with examples of Dove’s “Real Beauty” and Always’ #LikeAGirl campaigns coming to mind as resounding wins in recent times. Other notable examples include Apple’s purpose to “empower creative exploration and self-expression”, TOMS’ one-for-one purpose of “improving lives”, and Nike’s purpose “to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world”. These aren’t just slogans; they’re a representation of the why that keeps these companies relevant to audiences in a world that’s hemorrhaging brand births by the second.


And it’s not just external-facing metrics that get an uplift, but internal as well. A 2015 study by Harvard Business Review and Ernst & Young revealed that there are clear business benefits to having a strong brand purpose. It showed that companies with a strong sense of purpose were able to innovate and transform easily, as well as improve employee satisfaction. Incorporating purpose into a business inspires consumers and stakeholders, and can also play a role in recruitment, helping brands to attract and retain talented individuals.

As a staunch evangelist of purpose-driven marketing, I could wax lyrical for ages on the subject but my editor told me to limit this post to 500 words (I’m already at 574, eek!). If you’d like to discuss this topic in further detail or would like studies that add empirical depth to the subject, feel free to reach out to me over Twitter (@MSTRTjay) or Linkedin (/in/tajdaroc). In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this profound TED talk by Simon Sinek that dives deeper into this psyche and what makes it tick. Enjoy!

Tajdar O. Chaudry

November 5, 2017