How to uncover your brand purpose

Michael Dale

Written by Michael Dale

Defining and applying a purpose can have the most profound effect on a business. Following on from our article ‘Why brands with a purpose do better’ — here's a few tips on how to uncover yours.

Brand purpose diagram

Find your passion

What do you care about most? It’s likely that there is a ready–made audience that feel the same way. Is there an opportunity to connect to them at this deeper, emotional level?

Spot a conjunction

Your ultimate purpose comes at the intersection of ‘what the world needs’ and ‘your special talents’. Read the zeitgeist well and you will receive a boost from perfect timing too.

Think big

You might not plan to colonise space or cure fatal diseases, but in every walk of life people are inspired by ambitious goals; ones that make the world a better place. As author and brand guru, Marty Neumeier put it, ‘Who wants a dream that’s near–fetched?’

Keep it simple

A dozen words or less should do it. Coca Cola’s stated purpose is ‘To refresh the world’ – it’s direct, focussed and aspirational. Yours, for example, maybe as simple as ‘To keep cyclists safe’. On the other hand this could limit your ambitions to cycling, so you might opt for ‘To make the road a safer place’.

Be prepared to sacrifice

The process of rediscovering a lost purpose can be like applying a focussing lens. Some products or services you provide may no longer align with your purpose. Be true to your cause and discard anything that does not ring true.

Take your time

Devote some hard thinking to the task. Bring in colleagues to help. Refine your text - the nuances in the words you choose are important. It may take days. It may take weeks or more. But it will be worth it.

Once you have your purpose refined, you will have laid the first foundation stone of a better and more successful brand. Stick it on the wall, use it to build a vision, live it and breath it.

See part one: Why brands with a purpose do better »