In a recent post, Strong brands have a higher purpose, June 26, 2013, I stated that conceiving a higher purpose for your brand is a powerful approach to building a strong brand and business.
By defining a brand with a clear raison d’être you imbue the brand with powerful, latent intangible added values from the moment of its launch. These added values then become manifest to the brand’s customers through their interactions with the brand and play a crucial role in distinguishing the brand from competitors in the marketplace
This post continues to explore this idea.
What is your brand’s higher purpose?
A higher purpose is the fundamental reason for a brand’s existence beyond the obvious requirement for it to make money.
It answers the question: “Why must this brand exist?” A well-conceived higher purpose should include why the brand will make the world a better place and what the world would miss if the brand did not exist.
A higher purpose must capture the passion and imagination of the brand’s founders and its leadership team. It must inspire and engage the brand’s employees. It must bolster the capacity of the brand and its business to evolve over time. And, it must provide the basis for an enduring relationship with the brand’s customers.
An important implication of defining a higher purpose is that it demonstrates to the organization’s employees that the brand and business are ONE. A brand is not distinct from the business—it is the entire business seen from the customer’s point of view. A brand can only provide compelling value for its customers if the business can create and communicate this desired value and sustain it over time.
A business has to make its brand strong from the inside out™. By answering the question: “Why must my brand exist?” you discover your brand’s passion, a crucial step in unlocking the true potential of your brand.
How does it help unlock the true potential of your brand?
The Brand Iceberg is a useful tool for explaining this process.
About one-ninth of an iceberg is above water. In the Brand Iceberg the “tip of the iceberg” represents the parts of the brand that are visible to customers—the customer brand experience. For a retailer this might include its logo, its retail locations, its merchandise, the actions of its front-line employees, its online store, its marketing communications, etc. For one of the retailer’s vendors, the tip of its iceberg might include the brand’s logo, products, packaging, and marketing communications.
It is this part of the iceberg that is below the surface and invisible to customers that is responsible for advancing the brand’s ability to create and sustain the compelling value—the customer brand experience—that is desired by customers.
Discovering the brand’s passion by answering the question, “Why must this brand exist?” provides direction to the brand’s leadership team to build the power of the business inside the brand to sustain the brand’s capacity for winning in the marketplace. This enables these brand stewards to focus their efforts on the three most crucial tasks for developing strong brands and businesses:
- Nurturing an organizational culture where employees live this passion
- Tailoring a business system to create, deliver and communicate this passion for customers
- Fostering a pioneering spirit for refreshing this passion for over time
What’s the way forward?
Peter Drucker, whom I regard as one of the most influential management theorists of all time, wrote:
That business purpose and business mission are so rarely given adequate thought is perhaps the most important cause of business frustration and failure.
This statement is true for far too many brands in the marketplace today. Without a higher purpose the brand and the business inside the brand lack the direction necessary to sustain the brand’s capacity to win in the marketplace over time. By answering the question: “Why must my brand exist?” you will:
- Unlock the true potential of your brand
- Capture the passion and imagination of your brand’s founders and leadership team
- Inspire and engage your employees
- Bolster the capacity of the brand and its business to evolve over time
- Provide the basis for an enduring relationship with your brand’s customers
What are you waiting for?