PURPOSE-DRIVEN POWER BRANDING

What a purpose-driven power brand strategy is, why it matters, how power brands build value, and how to engage employees through your brand.

Building a power brand is critical to business success. 

I believe in the power of branding, and its ability to transform people and companies. While many companies just focus on their external brand strategy, a power brand strategy starts on the inside of your company, is purpose-driven, and engages the people who make it happen: your employees. 

In this article, I will explore what a purpose-driven power brand strategy is, why it matters, how power brands build value, and how your company can effectively engage employees through your power brand.

What is a purpose-driven power brand strategy?

A purpose-driven brand strategy is a way of building a brand that is centered around your company’s purpose and values. Rather than simply focusing on the products or services you offer, purpose-driven power brands seek to make a positive impact on the world and align their business practices with their values. 

What this means is that your brand is not something you add to your company, it’s the reason your company exists. Your brand is the purpose and passion that propels everything your company is and does. And the questions that sit around purpose-driven power branding are:

  • Where are you taking this company? (Vision)
  • What sort of legacy do you want to leave? (Reputation)
  • Why should people love working for you? (Culture)
  • Why should people love doing business with you? (Ethics)
  • Why should people love buying from you? (Promise)
  • Why do you exist? (Purpose)

Importantly, the Head of Marketing does not know the answers to these questions. It’s a conversation with the CEO and his or her leadership team. And once articulated, your brand needs to happen on the inside first, among your employees and stakeholders, and then on the outside, in the marketplace. 

Why does a purpose-driven power brand strategy matter?

A purpose-driven power brand strategy matters more today than ever before for three key reasons:

1. Power brands attract and keep talent.

Employees today want to work for companies that have a higher purpose beyond just making money. The 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer report found that 69% of employees have a strong expectation that organisations are having a societal impact (when considering a job). 

By creating a purpose-driven brand, your company will attract employees who share your values and are passionate about making a difference in the world. Employees want to know what your company stands for, and its contribution to the world and society.

When you consider that employee engagement across Australia is 17% and 24% globally, (SOURCE: Gallup), you must conclude that company culture is something most companies give lip service to. It’s something they must do to, not something they’re really committed to doing. 

Purpose-driven power branding flips that on its head. Instead of just putting in the hours to pay their rent and electricity bills, employees are driven by and personally committed to a larger brand and company purpose that’s having a positive impact on society and lives.

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How purpose-driven power branding transforms a lacklustre job into an amazing one.

2. Power brands attract and keep customers.

Customers today are socially conscious and want to support companies that align with their values and make a positive impact on the world. A purpose-driven brand strategy will help your company tap into this trend and build a loyal customer base. Purpose-driven power brands help build long-term relationships with customers who share the same values.

The “Strength of Purpose” study of 75 companies and brands (commissioned by New York-based Zeno Group) found that when customers think a brand has a strong purpose, they are:   

  • 4 times more likely to purchase from the company   
  • 6 times more likely to protect the company in the event of a misstep or public criticism   
  • 4.5 times more likely to champion the company and recommend it to friends and family   
  • 4.1 times more likely to trust the company   

They also found that globally, 94% of customers said it is important that the companies they engage with have a strong purpose, and 83% said companies should only earn a profit if they also deliver a positive impact.

3. Power brands set you apart from the competition.

Most industries are saturated with brands that tick all the boxes, don’t stand for anything, and don’t stand out. They lack impact and connection. They have no power.

Power brands are not something you add to your company, they are the reason your company exists. When your company’s brand is built around its purpose and values, it becomes more than just a logo or a tagline – it becomes a rallying cry that inspires employees and customers alike. 

Power brands touch people – employees, customers, business partners, communities – and connect them to your company, both head and heart. People will come and work for you not because they need a job, but because they believe what you believe. People will keep buying your products and services not because you have something they need, but because they believe what you believe, and you keep your promises. 

In this way, power brands build trust, win customers, attract and keep talent, and differentiate you from the competition. That’s the potential of a well-baked, purpose-driven power brand.

How purpose-driven power brands build value.

Between 1973 and 2020, the share of intangible asset market value increased from 17% to 90% (Ocean Tomo). Yep, intangible assets account for 90% of the enterprise value for all companies in the S&P 500. They are the primary driver of company profitability and growth. And yet, despite being so critical, most accounting and financial reporting standards ignore intangible assets. 

The list of well-known intangible attributes includes reputation, trust, culture, loyalty, goodwill, recognition, reliability, engagement, satisfaction, and future potential. This is the currency of power branding. And these intangible attributes are either just words that sit in your brand strategy decks, annual reports, and reception areas, or they are words that are felt, believed, and lived with conviction and excitement every day. 

Raj Sisodia reports [in his book Firms of Endearment: How World-Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose] how companies who put purpose and passion at the heart of what they do are blowing away the S&P 500 averages when it comes to their performance.

purpose and passion

In his study, Firms of Endearment grow collectively at a rate of a little over 1000% in 10 years, whereas the Standard & Poor 500 grew 122%. Furthermore, Firms of Endearment outperformed Good to Great firms [from Jim Collins’ book Good To Great] between 150 to 1000%. 

And the magic ingredient for today’s most successful companies? Bringing love, joy, authenticity, empathy, and soulfulness into their businesses, and not just focusing on making a profit.

How to use your purpose-driven power brand to engage employees.

Building a purpose-driven power brand strategy starts by engaging people on the inside of your company. This includes employees, leadership, and other stakeholders who can help shape the brand’s purpose and values. By involving people on the inside of your company, brands can create a shared sense of purpose and a deep understanding of what the brand stands for.

The worst thing you can do is to turn your brand’s cause into a rational, predictable set of statements that hang up behind your reception desk and sit in the “About” section on your website. And yet this is what most organisations do. They tick the boxes, and this is why most branding falls short of being powerful: It makes sense, yes, but it’s not believed and felt, and that’s the big trap you want to avoid. 

Here are some ways that your company can engage people on the inside of the company to build a purpose-driven brand:

Start with your leaders.

A purpose-driven brand strategy needs to start at the top. Your company leaders should be committed to the brand’s purpose and values and should be able to articulate them clearly to others. By leading by example, company leaders can inspire others to embrace the brand’s purpose and values.

Involve your employees.

Employees are the heart of any company, and they play a critical role in building a purpose-driven brand. Your company should involve employees in the brand strategy process, asking for their input and feedback on the brand’s purpose and values. This will help to create a shared sense of ownership and commitment to the brand.

Communicate clearly and consistently.

To build and maintain a purpose-driven power brand, your company needs to communicate its purpose and values clearly and consistently. This includes communicating with employees, customers, and other stakeholders. By communicating clearly and consistently, your company will ensure that everyone understands what the brand stands for and what it is trying to achieve.

Align your business practices.

To truly build a purpose-driven brand, companies need to align their business practices with their purpose and values. This means making decisions that are consistent with the brand’s purpose and values, even if they are not always the most profitable or easy decisions. By doing so, companies can demonstrate their commitment to their purpose and values and build a brand that is truly authentic.

Brands have a positive role to play in our lives.

I have always asserted that great brands – which I call power brands – must play a positive role in society and in people’s lives, and this is now a growing expectation (especially min this post-Covid era). 

Along with the traditional [mechanical] bottom line, highly successful companies have a second [humanistic] bottom line viz. a return on human investment that advances a larger cause. Apart from making money, what is our contribution to people and the planet? How do we make the world a better place? Would we be missed if we didn’t exist?

Your brand is that cause. Your brand is the purpose that drives high employee engagement and performance, and the promise that attracts and keeps customers. 

At the end of the day, people build brands from what they see, read, hear, and feel. A brand that makes sense but is not believed because it’s ticked the boxes and doesn’t walk its talk simply won’t cut it. 

Purpose statement for a disability client of mine.
Purpose statement for a disability services client I power branded.
Richard Sauerman
Richard Sauerman
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