I’ve written often about the need for a brand to define who it is and what its core values are. I wanted to take that further by saying that it is equally critical to define the goals of a brand in terms of purpose for the year. Without doing so a brand is likely to slip backwards within a marketplace that is moving so fast. You only need to look at the leadership positions Nike, Pepsi, Starbucks and Coke are taking in the social space to see major brands that are tracking with the marketplace.
To be fair brands are often so overwhelmed by the need to survive, meet their next quarterly projections or turn themselves inside out in the face of social media, that they don’t get time to sit down and articulate how the next year can contribute to what the brand wants to be. Yet there is time if a brand puts it first at the beginning of the year.
When I speak of goals in this way, I don’t mean the number of visitors to its website, its profit or market share. I mean how will it change what consumers think about it so that their perception is more closely aligned with the brand’s core values.
The compass in this area is the brand’s purpose, and on the flip side, it’s that purpose that generates meaningful exchanges with consumers in the social space. For example, Timberland demonstrated its committed to the environment by jumping into the fray over climate control in Copenhagen. They saw that as an important contribution their brand could make to achieving their purpose even though brands don’t usually protest or dialogue with heads of state.
If a brand does this work, it reaps unexpected benefits. Their clearly stated purpose and yearly goals become a filter for all the incredibly confusing decisions they have to make in the face of technology and consumer behavior shifts. And this translates to time, money and anxiety saved.
If a brand doesn’t do this work, the consequences are dramatic and often unseen. Not only will a company waste time and energy on marketing efforts that are schizophrenic and inefficient. But without a clear goal as to brand purpose, they further compound their lack of definition and uncertainty.
A brand must be its own compass in an shifting marketplace.
Consumers are not looking for a something to buy. They are looking for extensions of what is meaningful to them.
By simply articulating your purpose, a brand can set itself apart from the majority of brands that are second guessing what consumers want them to be or what the marketplace will do next.
As 2009 fades from memory and 2010 lurches forward, a brand must steady itself with a clear sense of purpose as it enters the social flow. Without it, a brand will stumble and consumers may not reach out to lend a hand.
How important do you think a brand’s purpose is as a goal? Should that goal be built into its yearly planning?
Reading Time: 1 minutesSimon Mainwaring is the founder of We First, a leading brand consultancy that provides purpose-driven strategy, content, and training that empowers companies to lead business, shape culture, and better our world.