Rodolfo sits across the table from me. (Okay, full disclosure here, I’m totally using fake names, so I chose one that sounds sexy, humour me.) Anyways. There I sit, with my team and Rodolfo. He has a profitable 16 year old manufacturing company with a fairly regular customer base. He’s making a good living, his company has a good reputation for quality. And yet, here he sits, having an identity crisis. He doesn’t feel like his company has a very distinct look. His marketing materials are stale, outdated and well, let’s just say it….ugly. He feels a new brand is needed, and we all nod in eager agreement.
We begin with one question.
One single, seemingly simple question. “Why do you want a new brand?” Silence. We take this for thinking. We lean in, eager to learn his deepest darkest branding desire. “I want a new logo, and a website.” More nodding. We love new logos and websites. Yes, we can do a logo and website, but back to the question, “Why?” Silence. We start to panic slightly. He doesn’t know why. Surely he must know why? Finally, he looks at us, and there it is “I just want it to look better, my brand is old.”
Look better? That’s his reason? I exhale. It wasn’t the earth shattering reason I was hoping for. Oh Rodolfo. No wonder your company doesn’t have passion or direction. Looking better is not a why. It might be a goal. But it’s not a measurable, actionable, purposeful direction. Looking better, is, to be quite blunt, like putting lipstick on a pig. I can’t believe I just wrote that. But that’s how I feel when someone walks in with lame goals. Let’s get deep. Let’s go all millennial on this company’s ass. Let’s find purpose.
Some of you management types might be rolling your eyes right now.
Purpose? Typical Creative Director wanting to be all artsy and shit. It’s okay, I stereotyped, so you can too. But I’ve been in this game a long time, and I’m telling you right now, the companies I’ve worked with who have established passion and purpose go further. They make more money. They have more customers. They have invested employees and invested buyers. It’s a thing. Trust me.
“The fact is customers are looking for brands with purpose. They want to know what you stand for. They want a clear reason to differentiate you from your competitors, and not only that, but they are willing to pay a premium for it.”
The fact is customers are looking for brands with purpose.
They want to know what you stand for. They want a clear reason to differentiate you from your competitors, and not only that, but they are willing to pay a premium for it. A premium. Yes, if you can show them that you are a company with distinct vision, mission and values, one that they connect with, they will actually pay more to buy something from you. Research shows that 40% of consumers want to choose a brand that has a clear purpose. And they are willing to pay 58% more for these alluring purposeful brands.
If you need proof that 40% of consumers want to choose a brand with purpose, I would like to bring forward exhibit A. Moi. Yes, me. You’d think that me, of all people, would be somewhat immune from the power of these shiny new purposeful brands. I spend my days creating them. In fact, I’m probably the perfect example of a consumer in the aforementioned 58% club. I’m drawn to brands with purpose, and I’m totally willing to pay more for them.
Case in point: I needed a new suitcase. I could have gone to Costco and succumbed to the allure of overabundance, instant gratification and a cheap hot dog. Instead, an ad on Facebook caught my eye. Granted, all my check ins and travel posts made me a hot ass red flag deal of a customer. But still, this brand looked genuine and kinda cool.
They had a good quality product, but that’s not what made me buy.
It’s that they got me. Like we were soulmates. Their company purpose, the way they presented the brand, the way they felt about travel. It was like they spoke to me. I loved this brand. I wanted to belong to this suitcase tribe. So much so that all thoughts of elbowing children out of the way for free food samples went right out the window, in favour of a hefty credit card charge that I’m now hiding from my husband until he does something wrong and needs forgiveness (it won’t be long).
My point being, this brand has power. Their purpose touched a part in me that believed what they believed. Now that’s brand power. Another thing about brand power is that happy customers will preach about the amazing new brands they love (aka, referrals). So without further ado, here it is, the suitcase you should all have. And no, I wasn’t paid for this shout out.
What I’m saying here is that in order for your brand purpose to carry any weight it must also have honesty, transparency and authenticity. Your values have to be the core of who you are and you must live those values inside every part your company. Don’t be like, sure, we believe in supporting our community, then buy your parts from China. You gotta walk the talk.
As a branding agency, our job is, of course, to make a company look better.
But today the conversation needs to be about more than look, it needs to be about how we can keep your brand relevant by uncovering your purpose and putting it to work for you. We need to ask you the hard questions about what you stand for, what your values are, what you are passionate about. Having an authentic, purposeful brand, now that’s a freaking direction your customers and your employees can get behind. Both with their loyalty and with their chequebooks. Yah, I said chequebooks. Even though they aren’t a thing anymore it sounded cooler than Apple Pay.
Now, you might be wondering what happened with the good old Rodolfo situation. Luckily for him, there was hope. He was open to the idea of finding his purpose, and sat down with us to talk about the things he wanted to stand for. He wanted to dig deeper. And the end result? Sure, we created a beautiful new brand for him, but the brand was so successful it actually gave new life to his company, right down to the mentality of his own employees. We now live and breathe his values throughout his website, social media and advertising, and it’s driving measurable results.
The good news is you don’t have to be a new company to find your brand purpose and capitalize on it. You can start anytime if you are brave enough to step out of the comfort zone. The power of brand is available to you, at any time you want to invest in it.
“Your values have to be the core of who you are and you must live those values inside every part your company.”
If you are confused about where to start with this whole purpose thing, I strongly suggest you start with the book Start with Why by Simon Sinek. And if you have a short attention span, just watch his famous TedTalk video to get inspired. I’ve listed some more great resources below that will help you find your brand purpose.
At the end of the day the concept is simple. Build a company with clarity, purpose and values, and the branding and marketing that follows will be much more attractive and effective. Measurably so.
Sherry Jacobi is the founder and Creative Director of Studiothink, a creative branding agency located in the suburbs of Vancouver, BC. She leads a team of experienced, wine drinking, off-the-wall-talented people who are making waves producing cutting edge, purposeful websites and brands.