Two trees shaped like heads facing each other. Birds fly between the branches. Illustration.

Are you working at a company with a Purpose? With the onset of Covid-19 and an evolving public that is more concerned with social justice than ever before, your company’s Purpose has likely been a topic of conversation recently. 

Fortunately, we learned some key lessons about understanding your company’s Purpose and using it effectively from experts in the field at two recent events: Emzengo U’s International Women’s Social Impact Weekend and BLD Southeast — Branding Your Purpose: Differentiating Your Brand Panel

The fact of the matter is, most people wouldn’t care if 74% of brands disappeared. Building trust and loyalty is more important to the health of your business than ever before. If your customers don’t buy into your Purpose, they’re not going to stay — especially when a global pandemic negatively affects their employment status and household income.

On the other hand, brands that answer that demand for meaning and show responsibility are reaping the rewards — in fact, 46% of meaningful brands enjoy a higher share of wallet. Read more about how Purpose yields meaningful results.

So how do you keep your customers around, engaged, and buying what you’re selling in these uncertain times?

Falling in love vs staying in love

RoundPeg Co-Founder and Creative Director Polina Pinchevsky  said it simply: “Falling in love is easier than staying in love.” This works the same for brands as it does for people.

You may be able to charm your customer upfront with flashy marketing — you may even cover the traditional 3 P’s of marketing with the perfect Product, Price, and Placement and get them to buy your product once. But if you don’t put in the time and effort to cultivate your relationship with them, express to them that you know what they’re going through and that you’re there for them when they need you– they will certainly leave in time. This is where you need to include the 4th P of marketing to make your relationship solid: Purpose.

Use Storytelling communicate your value — authentically 

Many people know what’s great about their company and what difference they want to make in the world. But it can be difficult to differentiate yourself when so many brands misrepresent themselves and ‘greenwash’ their marketing.

Walking by a Smoothie King, a sign that said “SMOOTHIES WITH A PURPOSE” caught our eye. After Google-ing  it, we found that the company’s so-called “purpose” was “achieving global brand leadership through franchising.” Wait, what does that mean exactly? Is Smoothie King doing something good for the world with their smoothies, employment opportunities… something like that? Turns out this one is just purpose- washing for total corporate purposes.

With imposters like this around, following the trend of marketing their so-called “purpose,” to appeal to customers, how can your company even stand out? How will people know the difference?

Polina says, “Talk about the change you’re making in the world, how you’re engaged in the world, and how the work you’re doing has an impact.” You may hesitate to brag about your work, but there are smart ways to guide your brand story instead of trying to make yourself seem like the hero. Read more on how to accomplish that here.

Brad Flowers, Founder and Partner of Bullhorn Creative and author “The Naming Book: 5 Steps to Creating Brand and Product Names that Sell” makes sure to add, “You need to be upfront with what differentiates you from other companies.” If you know that what you do provides value, don’t be shy in your marketing and communications — say it. 

Adding the storytelling element to your marketing provides another layer of authenticity that other brands don’t have. “People want stories they can find themselves in and be a part of something bigger than themselves,” says Brandy Amidon, Co-President and CFO of Brains on Fire. Talk about why you started your company and the challenges you’ve faced, tell the story of why this work is so important to you and your staff, show your customers that you are people who are navigating life just like they are — and they’ll start to see themselves in you. For more ways to use your Purpose as a leader, click here: 8 Things Purposeful Leaders Do Every Day.

Branding Consultant Sirena Andras reminds us, “Your WHY is your WHY regardless of your Purpose. It’s trendy now to be transparent; harnessing your WHY and showing it to the world is key. Be authentic. That’s how you stand out.”

“Make sure you’re telling the same story to every stakeholder,” says Vincent Stanley, Director of Philosophy at Patagonia, “Transparency is a big part of it. It’s important to share successes — so people can see themselves in you. Sharing failures is important too; it creates credibility and sets a standard of intelligent conversation with your customers.”

If you’re looking for more ways to differentiate your brand through the language that you use, make sure to read Brad’s article Breaking Down the Barriers: Finding your voice as an impact brand.

Cultivate and nurture your customer relationship // Build Trust

Just like in any relationship, developing trust and brand loyalty takes time and effort. Since many brands without real Purpose don’t want to put in the time and effort it takes to earn customer loyalty, if you do — you’ll stand out. But you have to show them you care, even when they’re not buying your product.

One of the best ways to establish that give and take relationship is to “create a community space that provides a feedback loop, so you can really listen,” says Sirena. This way, you become aware of what your key customers are thinking, feeling, what they’re stressing about, and how you can be there for them better.

The way we see it, you shouldn’t just be thinking of how your customers can help you with your bottom line, but how you can support each other in advancing a shared Purpose.

Parenting Unfiltered is a site created for parents by Plum Organics that speaks frankly of all of the milestones they encounter and not just the food-based ones. Plum Organics is there to support parents trying to do their best for their kids in all ways. That makes them a loyal friend and partner — not someone who pops up only when parents are about to make a purchase. 

By using honesty and humor, they have created an intimate relationship with their customers – it’s a community where parents can discuss their challenges and worries, a place where they can feel supported. You can learn 9 Tips for Creating a More Purposeful Customer Experience here.

Be there through thick and thin

In 2020, the world is going through a lot of transitions, and for many people the last thing on their mind is staying loyal to your brand. But if you tell your story authentically in a way that means something to your customer, you’ll get their attention. And once you prove to them that you are there for them through thick and thin, they will be on your team for a long time too.

If you’d like to dive deeper and learn how to bring Purpose to your organization, download the Purpose Workbook today at half price here: Purpose Driven: How to Take Your Company from Intention to Impact; just use code Get50%OFF today.


Reprinted with permission from RoundPegComm.com

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