July 12, 2018

Creating a Purpose-Driven Brand

Matthew Billingsley • Chief Creative Officer

Consciously or not, people are driven by purpose. Any organization that stands for something deeper than their product or service has the ability to create emotional connections with their customers and communities. One of the most effective ways an organization can cultivate these connections is to nurture a brand that aligns with their purpose.

Creating a brand that is moving and relevant will allow your organization to rise above the noise to make meaningful connections with your audience and develop new advocates. If your organization can’t answer the question “what is our purpose?” then how can you have solid ground to build your brand?

What is a Brand?

A brand is how a company or organization is perceived. Too often, people get “logo” and “brand” confused. It’s an important component of it that we’ll touch on below, but a logo alone cannot capture your purpose.

“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” – Seth Godin

A strong brand will authentically represent your vision, mission, values, and tone of voice. Together these articulate the higher purpose of your organization:

  • Vision – is aspirational and descriptive of your organization’s desired future state and should align directly with your purpose (why your organization exists)’
  • Mission – defines your organization’s current approach in achieving its vision
  • Values – guide how the organization operates and is a reflection of the organization’s approaches as they align to your purpose
  • Tone-of-Voice – this is how you communicate the previous elements. Are you approachable, serious, artistic, whimsical? Choosing the correct tone of voice is critical for how people will view and consume your brand.

The Power of Purpose

A strong brand should represent your organization’s vision and beliefs. The stronger your beliefs are effectively woven through your messaging and visual identity, the clearer and more compelling your purpose, and therefore brand, will be. Misalignment or inconsistencies of the vision, mission, values, and tone-of-voice can breed confusion and send mixed messages of what your organization represents. When these elements are in harmony, the brand is clearly defined and meaningful relationships can take shape.

“Brand is a gut feeling about a product, service or company. You can’t control the process, but you can influence it.” – Marty Neumeier

Let’s explore how it can bring clarity when applied and maintained properly.

When a brand stands for something, it will represent your beliefs and give audiences a strong perception of who you are. Even if it may not align with others’ beliefs and values they will know where your organization stands.

People respond to real-life stories. Cite case studies, testimonials, thought leadership and other communication vehicles to speak to your purpose. Showing proof of the connections made with others will breed trust. These are valuable tools that shape perceptions and make you feel relatable.

When communicating your brand and positioning, avoid trendy word jumbles that sound safe and bland. Everyone would like to help make the world a better place solving [x] issue, but how you approach that and plan to carry it out is what matters. Your positioning should be unique to you.

Expressing Your Brand

There are three key components of expressing a successful purpose-driven brand:

  • Visual Identity – This consists of your logo, color palette, typography, promotional materials, etc – anything that represents what people see in your organization. The most effective visual identities will “speak for you” so consistency in its use is arguably its most important attribute.
  • Messaging – Your organization’s messaging is what you say about your brand—it’s your organization’s narrative. Does your brand clearly state what you do, or aspire to do, and how? Can it be woven into a unique story that compels people to learn more or take action?
  • Living it – Finally, it’s important for people to feel that you are authentic. Operating your organization in concert with what you are saying and what people are seeing is the embodiment of a brand with purpose. Living it, demonstrating your brand, can raise organizations into that rare air of being influential.

“If people like you they will listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.” – Zig Ziglar

In Conclusion

The fundamental layer beneath the creation of the brand and positioning is buy-in and ongoing participation from leaders and staff. If decisions and actions at the top don’t align with your brand, employees will sense the discrepancy and the entire effort will be for nothing. Once the full internal team is on board, you can now communicate your brand externally and internally with confidence. When you build belief and regularly reinforce your purpose, you have achieved a meaningful and compelling brand.

Are you interested in learning how to create or evolve a purposeful brand? Get in touch with us to discuss your needs.

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