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Brand Strategy and Identifying an Organization’s Purpose

Purpose isn’t just good for the soul, it’s actually really good for the bottom line. The purpose of an organization can become the filter that says ‘do I or do I not invest the resources in getting this done and is it going to help me achieve the purpose for which my company exists every single day.

– Erin Nelson, longtime Dell marketing leader, now CMO at Bazaarvoice

At a recent ANA convention there was much talk about an idea called Purpose Driven Marketing becoming the “future of marketing and advertising.” Perhaps that’s a bit dramatic but if leaders of an organization have a difficult time articulating the core purpose of what they’re about then it’s likely that the current marketing efforts are scattered and tactic-orientated along with, perhaps, even a general underwhelmingness of the look and feel of marketing materials.

A well-crafted purpose can become both the organization’s mission and brand strategy. Drake Cooper’s purpose is “We Build Brands” and using Campaign Planning it’s possible to craft a new or refined purpose for all types of organizations.

What is the organization’s role in the world? What does it believe in? From those questions everything else falls… The way the product or service is produced. The way innovation is offered to customers. The way the organization gives back to the world. All these things tie up together.

Here are a couple of well-known examples.

Cisco wants everyone to make better human connections because better human connections “change the way we live, work, play and learn”. That’s Cisco’s purpose and it’s a terrific one with really no limits. Could a telecom company say this as well? Probably, but they wouldn’t be better at delivering on it than Cisco.

Nike wants everyone to realize that “if you have a body you are an athlete”. That’s another amazing purpose. Could another athletic company say this? Perhaps, but I doubt they would be better at it than Nike.

And when Coke stands for “opening happiness” it translates across the world:

From this…


To this…

Those are big brand examples but no matter the size of an organization crafting the purpose not only leads to better marketing, it leads to better audience targeting.

If Peter Drucker was right that the purpose of a business or organization is to create a customer then when it comes to marketing it’s imperative to create stories that resonate with the worldview of the desired audience.

Seth Godin articulates this well:

Start with the truth. Identify the worldview of the people you need to reach. Describe the truth through their worldview. That’s your story. (And remember) People don’t want to change their worldview. They like it, they embrace it and they want it to be reinforced.

If an organization is focused on their beliefs it allows for a confidence in selecting the optimum audience and how to talk to them.

A well-crafted purpose also increases the likelihood of creating that ever-desired visual hammer. Today people recall visual imagery with much greater accuracy than taglines. Laura Ries has talked about this very convincingly. A well-crafted purpose is what allows designers to create such visual ideas as Tropicana Orange’s straw, The Wells Fargo Stagecoach and the alluring red soles of Christian Louboutin shoes.

In 1971 Stephen King, the world’s first account planner and father of that discipline listed three things that make a brand successful, all of which are still amazingly accurate today:

1. The brand has to be a coherent totality, not a lot of bits.

2. The brand has to be unique and continually developed to stay unique because it’s uniqueness that allows the brand to offer sustained profit margins.

3. The brand’s blend of appeals must clearly be relevant to people’s needs and desires, immediate and salient.

These things are, of course, nearly impossible to achieve without identifying a well-crafted purpose for the business or organization.

If you’d like to learn more about Drake Cooper’s Campaign Planning process and collaboratively work to uncover the purpose of a business or organization, please click here.