Why Your Brand Needs a Purpose Statement

By | 2016-09-04T23:00:00+00:00 September 4th, 2016|

When building a brand, one per cent is vision and 99 per cent is alignment. There is no greater way to align the people who engage and work for your brand than with a clear, concise, compelling purpose statement.

Simply put, your purpose is the why you do what you do. Your rallying cry. It brings everyone together for a common cause. It inspires.  

Unfortunately, most brands operate in a transactional way of thinking. They focus on what they do and how they do it. They never address why they do it. This is why so many brands fail or have poor followings.

In the big picture, people actually don’t care what you do or how you do it. They do, however, attach themselves to the emotional value, and that is your why.

Why mission statements fail to launch

For many in the corporate world, having a mission statement is like a badge of honour.

If you’ve developed a brand past a certain stage, you’ll have developed a mission statement, and you can boast and brag about the three-day strategy session you paid handsomely to have facilitated so your exclusive leadership team could dream up all the big words.

Can you tell I’m not a fan? Here’s why:

  1. They’re almost always too long to remember
  1. They’re boring and lack emotional hooks. Without an emotional attachment or hook, people have a hard time relating to your brand
  1. They typically indicate the way they want things to be in the future vs. how things are
  1. They often weave values into the statement. Values are foundational and important enough to stand alone
  1. They do not fit on the back of clothing. I am not trying to be funny here. Having branded clothing with your purpose statement proudly displayed is a great tool for guerilla marketing. After all, you should be a walking, talking billboard for your brand
  1. And finally…I have never met an entrepreneur who woke up in the middle of the night, awakened his or her spouse and said, “Honey, I want to start a brand to increase shareholder value while maintaining environmental standards, blah blah blah.”

Why should anyone care whether your brand has a purpose?

The foundation of a strong culture is having a purpose statement that is easy to remember and that evokes an emotional response.

It’s that emotional response that gains you mileage: people may not care whether you have a purpose statement, but they will care about your brand once you can articulate your purpose with meaning.

Use your purpose to guide you in every decision. Whether hiring new team members, bringing on new clients, aligning with new vendors, or developing new ideas and strategies.

Your purpose guides you to make the right decisions. It is your moral compass.

You only want to align yourself with other people who embrace your purpose

If you do not develop a purpose, then you are just like every other brand out there. And who really wants to be just like everyone else, one among millions of the mediocre?

How long should a purpose statement be?

A powerful purpose statement should be four words or less. Yes, four words. And yes, it can be done.

As an example here is the actual purpose statement for my brand Unleash Culture™:

Discover Greatness Within

Read this, close your eyes and see if you can repeat it word for word.

I bet you can.

With this statement clearly ingrained in your thoughts, it is easy to think of ways you can begin to breathe life into this, every day. This is how the magic starts to happen.

Why four words?

  1. Four words are easy to remember, and if your purpose is easy to remember, it is easy to live
  1. With four words, it is possible to generate an emotional response. Emotion is the key to building a legion of followers
  1. It speaks to both the now and forever
  1. Boiled down to four words, you get clarity without confusion
  1. It fits nicely on the back of your branded clothing. Remember the walking, talking billboard thing?

In my experience, four words is all you need. Now, what is your purpose?

About the Author

Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, David loves helping brands build amazing cultures and has a proven track record of success resulting in 50 awards for culture excellence. His new book, Unleash Culture: Discover Greatness Within, is available on Amazon. David spoke about brand culture and storytelling at IT Glue’s Freeing Minds Event in Vancouver on October 5th, 2016.