Why Your Small Brand Needs Commitment to Purpose

Your brand’s purpose should set out how your company intends to change the world for the better. In a branding sense, the purpose has become like a sort of “utopia.” Everybody wants to be purposeful, but the majority of people don’t know why and how.

Brands today rather play the bandwagon game on social issues. You can literally hear them shouting, “We care,” but often this comes across as a lighthearted after-thought and more of a lip service.

This is all very well, but for a purpose to really work, it should be built into the business model as the predominant theme of the brand’s identity. It should provide a framework for the brand’s wholly systematic behavioral patterns because otherwise, people can easily smell the difference.

If a company’s brand positioning statement appeals to customers’ functional and emotional needs, then its purpose statement expresses the company’s soul, defining how it serves Customers, the Organization and the Rest of the World (its COR stakeholders).

So, what is the call-to-action (CTA)?

If you need something—fight for it

The purposes that should inspire you the most, must be by their very nature anti-establishment. You can’t afford business-as-usual and this is where you can be different from the big brands who believe they have seen it all and are satisfied with their status.

It should rather be business with a vengeance since you’ve got something to prove. For a stellar growth, you just don’t build on good aspirations alone, you need to aim for better.

As half the Fortune 500 companies are struggling with falling profits or revenues, paying lip service to the purpose without really committing will not help. It’s all about true business transformation.

This is something you must understand implicitly. You can’t short-change it. Both barrels must be blazing.

A research from Bain and Company has shown that while small brands are 65 percent more likely than large brands to outgrow their category,  in fact, less than 5 percent of the growth in US consumer goods between 2011 and 2015 came from the 25 biggest companies.

Purpose to really work! There shouldn’t be any room for complacency.

To change something, you must hate it

The small brands are generally seen as underdogs but the truth is that they are social and economic entrepreneurs driven by a hatred of the cheating, deceitful, and lackluster attitudes of the big brands. These underdogs don’t need glossy purpose statements or extensive corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports to show they care.

They naturally love what they do and work hard towards making their businesses answer any real problem they have identified. It’s essential to act fast in the marketplace and have your ears to the ground if you’re not going to be outrun as a brand by more agile players.

Brands that embrace a higher purpose by serving and creating distinct value for its COR ‘shareholders’—Customers, Organization, and Rest of the World, authentically, operationally, and comprehensively, will have their long-term financial objectives realized.

To care for the brand, you must care for the individual

Commitment to a common purpose is much easier to achieve when people see the common good, the common elements that impact each of them individually.  No matter how altruistic team members may be, real commitment comes from believing there is something good, noble, beneficial or worthy to work toward.

A motivated employee treats the customer well. The customer is happy so they keep coming back, which pleases the shareholders.

Taking time to consider and convey how the common purpose will meet the needs of individual team members is a real time saver in the long run. Commitment to a common purpose is not a permanent condition.

People need to be reminded about the WHY and also about HOW the common purpose will serve their own individual interests. Time introduces new ideas, new commitments, and new options.

Team members need to remind each other often about the importance of the work they are doing together. Commitment to a common purpose, mutual exchange, and fulfillment of promises will be lost if team members are distracted by team politics, unhealthy conflict, ego-driven turf wars or other unproductive team behaviors.

This commitment is just one of the five factors that impact team effectiveness. Inattention to the other factors will, over time, erode commitment as team members get distracted and lose faith in the shared commitment.

You can do all the big brands do and better

There are new “rules” of purposeful brands and they border on by people, for people. For millennial customers — who now drive the majority of marketplace transactions — care more about whom they buy from and do business with than other generations do. This is a purpose they can understand.

Most brands have asked themselves the question: What do my customers want? Few organizations make it possible for people to follow through on those wants and enable better lives by asking when.

As the market is shifting toward a democratic, empowered, social place, customers today want to identify and align with the company’s purpose and values, as an expression and extension of their own.

It is people’s “why” that matters. Big brands howling about purpose is one thing, but smaller incumbent brands are nipping at market shares with a steadfast challenger mindset and loud rallying cry: Big brands, everything you can do, we can do way better.

Photo Credit: rcokc Flickr via Compfight cc

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About John Ejiofor

John Ejiofor is a curious life-researcher, whose quest to finding answers to life's pertinent questions has led to founding Nature Torch. This blog aims to debate and explore many questions about our earth -- including those a lot of people are uncomfortable with asking. He has been published on some of the internet's most respected websites, which you can find online.
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