Purpose Behind the Brand Purpose: A FIY Guide.By Kawal Shoor and Manisha Sain
In the agency’s monotonous echo chamber, led by some clients and some concerns, a higher (brand) purpose has become the new coolness. Brands now want to be seen as seers, guardian angels and agonizing aunts. Discrimination, injustice, plastic pollution, global warming and everything in between are fair game. Perhaps that’s why advertisers rank even below the politician and the real estate agent and well below a lawyer and the average man or woman on the street when it comes to trust.
This is the case in the UK, where advertising is “more sophisticated” for lack of a better word. IPSOS does not yet have an India report. But you guess.
In all sectors of society, therefore, ad managers are the least trusted to tell the truth. What caused it Assuming that most are highly skilled in this industry, it could not be due to a lack of skills. Is it a lack of honesty? Or authenticity in today’s jargon?
However, this piece is not about authenticity (well, it can be). This piece is about a subject where authenticity is non-negotiable. It’s about purpose. (A higher) brand purpose.
When we return to the original meaning of the word, we can begin.
The Cambridge Dictionary describes purpose as “why you do something or why something exists”. It’s just like that. Purpose is a “goal”. It’s about doing good (or bad) whether you do it or not. History is full of examples of people who lived, worked, fought and died for a purpose. Mandela, Beethoven, Martin Luther King or closer to home, Mother Theresa, the Taj saviors on that fateful night, for them their purpose was greater than anything, even themselves. And as their life has shown, the real purpose needs more than he gives.
The word is also used in common parlance to define one’s own goal. “I want to find my purpose …”
How did this good word get into our industry?
One of our industry watchdogs, Kantar, has a brand structure that the world swears by. It is based on numerous large and small amounts of data. The largest companies trust that the brand framework is “significantly different” in order to steer their brands globally. The framework is actually quite good. The three things that are important to building sustainable brands are differentiation, expressiveness, and meaning.
In the past few decades, the availability of technology, the sophistication of plagiarism, and the laziness of innovation have made it incredibly difficult for companies to differentiate their products and brands. Companies therefore felt they had to give their brands meaning. One way to do this was to represent a value that the customer base cared about. Or to be more active for things that their audience stood for or for which they wanted to fight. Literally take target audience problems in life as the purpose of the brand. While the dictionary meaning of purpose is inextricably linked to a goal, organizations have begun to use purpose as a strategy for their brands. We will get to what this led to.
Body Shop’s socially conscious approach to business, Tata Tees ‘Jaago Re’, Nike’s recent diversity based work, and especially his Colin Kaepernick work, are examples of using purpose as a strategy. Mark Parker, CEO of Nike, said after the campaign, “The way we see it is how we connect and engage in ways that are
relevant and inspiring to the consumer we want to serve. “Notice that he is not talking about racial equality that he is serving or seeking to achieve. The campaign read: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything ”. The campaign went very well commercially. How much money did Nike actually put into the “Black Lives Matter” movement, the very topic Kaepernick was kneeling for? Nothing. The Kaepernick campaign was a strategy primarily to improve the brand’s image with the audience. Fueling the BLM movement was never the main goal.
It’ll be so nice when they admit that these are strategies, not goals. Or soon people will see through their double talk. When I hear something like “purpose brands grow faster …”, I go to “So that’s the purpose behind purpose brands”. And you and I thought it was so noble. Purpose brand builders continue to allude to the fact that they are doing everything they can to save the planet, not to sell the shampoo. (“But by the way, you have to buy my shampoo if you want me to save the planet …”) These are showboating people. When salespeople speak like saints it just sounds wrong. And that’s what drives the average man on the street to lose confidence in advertising
execs. Just show me how your shampoo is better. Not so easy?
According to a Kantar report, “earmarked” brands are growing significantly faster than the others. Question: How much money do these so-called purpose brands put as a percentage of total marketing spend on the cause? Is there any significant growth coming from this special purpose spending percentage? Or is the growth coming from other expenses?
You have to give it to them anyway. At least these are examples of suitable strategies.
Also read: The importance of emotional content / triggers in content marketing
Because apart from them there are also the wake fishermen. This includes some clients and many agency employees. This also includes the fashionable under the guise of the liberal left, who are suddenly at the center of brand marketing. The misfortunes of transgender people, the struggles of people with disabilities, the vulnerability of the not-so-good-looking people, the infinite hopelessness of those waiting to die … these are their raw materials and fodder to create lofty but insane brand purposes . You could call them the “ambulance hunters” – those cars that chase a fast moving ambulance just to get on.
Should you take them seriously? No. Some brands and their managers even have a “purpose” for each season. Often their sole purpose is to hear the celebratory clink of champagne glasses at awards ceremonies with their like-hearted friends. These are purposes as pretexts. And because the “brand purpose” has become hot, some customers have participated in its abuse. Short term purposes make them famous in the short term.
It’s not a bad deal.
Until the CFO and the board start asking questions.
So generally, although purpose should have been just a goal, it is now being used as a strategy or just a pretext. Brands often hide their intentions well. So here is something that can help.
There is another group of brands and organizations that have associated themselves with the purpose word. The Tata Memorial Hospital, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Shiv Nadar Foundation, etc. are examples of the philanthropic side of organizations. Some are on behalf of founders, others are more closely related to the corporate brand. While the investments behind these initiatives are small as a percentage of total sales / profits, they are often significant in absolute terms. And they are long term. And the intent is honest. In turn, they create long-term goodwill and can benefit these organizations commercially. However, these initiatives and investments are often not the main drivers of growth, so they do not fall under the “purpose as a strategy”, nor are they the only reason these organizations exist, so they do not fall within the scope of ” Purpose as goal “. For us, these would be examples of a fourth view of purpose. Purpose as a charity.
However, the purpose in the context of consumer marketing can be seen through the lens of fair strategy and deception. Purpose as an aim, where the ultimate aim of a company is to serve a lofty societal aim over commercial profits, can be seen in NGOs, which are less dubious. It is seldom seen in corporate circles. As a cooperative of more than 30,000 farmers, Amul is just a big exception.
Patagonia says, “We’re in business to save our planet.” Are they now going to risk their business to save the planet? We do not suspect. When they say, “Don’t buy this jacket,” it’s just smart branding for the trendy crowd. Especially when that headline is printed on a very cool looking jacket.
There is nothing like a completely altruistic strategy in business building. There may be some companies that have a soul. But unlike the really good souls, they are seldom hidden. Instead, they are displayed spectacularly for commercial gain. The fact is that not every consumer in every corner of the world has similar marketing skills and thus brands using the purpose as a strategy or even an excuse can sometimes fool some sections of society. But soon you’ll be able to say that little brother is watching you, dear Brand.
Until the point in time when the CEO of a billion dollar company doesn’t stand up for a so-called cause, as the media combative does when it comes to investor calls, don’t fall for it. Personally, I like my thief to look and speak like a thief. You may want to cheer on someone who has appeared in the guise of a saint. Then don’t be surprised if an Ad Exec is less trusted than the home delivery driver.
Bill Bernbach once said: “A principle is not a principle until it costs you money.” No organization charged with building shareholder wealth will instead choose to lose money to build a better, more sustainable, and happier society. They may seem but just watch them walk in the dark after hearing their talk under the lights. Those who say we can do both together are not naive. They’re just smart people using strategies to make their brands sound targeted.
Do you want to create a happier, more sustainable world for our children to thrive in? That you and I and our own little communities have to start in our own little ways.
We prefer to belong to the side that wants to sell and build likeable brands in the process. With some insight. And some humor, openness, charm, wit, poise and style.
-Kawal Shoor is a planner and founding partner at The Womb, while Manisha Sain is a strategy partner at The Womb. The views expressed are personal.
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