Brand strategy for purposeful people
Issy Cheung | circa 10 Minute Read
As a purpose led organisation trying to do good in the world, whether that is for social or environmental change, you’re rarely in a race to the bottom or selling on price alone. To be successful while doing business the right way, it is essential to align everyone around you with your goals for people, planet and profit by engaging with people on a human and emotional level – whether that be your customers, potential investors, stakeholders, partners or your teams.
So what’s your purpose? Why does your organisation exist? Why does it matter?
Truly understanding the answers to these questions can be challenging in itself. How you then infuse this into your brand and culture in the way you think, speak, look and act is what we will explore here.
Firstly, it is proven that purpose-led brands do better. They see accelerated growth, improved staff retention and customer loyalty, which gives them a clear market advantage and enables them to outperform their competitors.
A recent Harvard Business Review study found that ‘employees who derive meaning from their work report almost twice the job satisfaction and are three times more likely to stay with their organisation to fuel business success.’
‘91% of consumers would switch brands if a different one was purpose-driven and had similar price and quality’ – S.Mainwaring
‘Purpose-driven companies witness higher market share gains and grow three times faster on average than their competitors, all while achieving higher workforce and customer satisfaction’ – J.Stengel, Ex Global Marketing Officer for Procter & Gamble.
Most successful purpose led brands are underpinned by an effective brand strategy – it is the foundation that will help you to define elements such as your mission, vision, goals and even customer personas. Getting this strategy nailed down and infusing it into your design and language will give you a solid platform on which to build a consistent and authentic brand, one that generates positive long term results. It is about finding your north star, which anchors everything else you do as an organisation.
‘People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it’ – S.Sinek
All the evidence suggests that to have a purpose and vision beyond just money making is of great benefit to your business. In his famous book Start with Why, Sinek explores the power of purpose, and uses the Golden Circle, a tried and tested tool, to evidence ‘how much more we can achieve if we start everything we do by first asking why we do it’. The problem many businesses have is that they start with what they do, when really, it should all start from the inside out’.
Take our studio as an example, if we simply spoke about what we did, our advertising may sound something like this…
We design great logos and websites, they are modern and engaging. Let’s discuss how we can help you.
Flip that on its head and start with why…
We are an agency on a mission to use our design as a force for good, to achieve this we support businesses and nonprofits that work tirelessly towards positive social and environmental change, and we happen to design incredible brands, websites and marketing campaigns.
Let’s talk to discuss how we can help you.
This second example, starting with our why, is much more compelling, and is what engages our customers to work with us based on common values. It is what gives us the freedom to diversify our services to include brand, web and a whole range of creative content, whilst still retaining trust and loyalty from our clients; our purpose stays the same whilst our what and how can change.
The brand personality pyramid depicts the invisible and visible traits of your organisation. At the base, underpinning everything, we have your worldview that determines what you stand for and why you exist in the first place; this is the foundation for you to build upon. Your brand culture determines how you live out those values, attributes and benefits communicate what you do and why it matters, your behaviour is how you act, your tone of voice is how you talk, and finally, your look and feel is your visual identity that becomes the public face of your organisation.
Communicating your purpose
Now you’ve nailed your north star, how do you communicate your reason for being, what you do and the problems that you solve in an effective and engaging way? Your brand image and voice are both vital tools through which to communicate your purpose with your people and get everyone to journey with you. It’s also important to future proof your brand and creative collateral to engage both existing customers but also start talking to your customers of the future.
A comprehensive visual identity system is made up of a lot more than just a logo; it includes colour, typography and imagery, as well as a wider range of creative assets which can include illustration, iconography, animation and sound. Regardless of your technical ability and resources, try to make sure your brand connects with people on a human level, and create a written and visual language that can be carried through multiple channels and touchpoints.
Take a look at our work for Disability.Inc., the business services arm of WECIL, a user led organisation supporting Disabled people to live the life they choose. With this project we started by exploring their purpose, their why; to create an inclusive society and for disability rights to be at the forefront of people’s minds. We went through a naming process based on their mission and vision and landed on Disability.Inc.
When creating their brand mark, it was important to retain a visual connection to their parent company WECIL whilst establishing a new, independent identity. The circles and colours are a core characteristic that represents inclusivity with the circular formation of the logo representing community and support. This visual language has been continued throughout their illustrations with the use of circles and colour creating a consistent brand touch point.
Brand activation exists in the sweet spot between language and visuals and provides an opportunity to reinforce your mission and values. To activate your brand, you could begin by highlighting associated words that extend from your name or tagline, or repeat a small part of your logo across company documents and marketing materials to reinforce your brand identity.
Let's talk about culture
As we saw in the personality pyramid, culture underpins your entire organisation. But to build strong foundations, your culture and how you live and breathe needs to align with your purpose and be reflected in the way you speak and look.
According to research by Deloitte, company culture is an important factor for recruiting and retaining talent, with 94% of entrepreneurs and 88% of job seekers saying that a healthy culture at work is vital for success. Purpose is a brilliant way to motivate staff, align their actions to a common goal and ensure a positive and purposeful culture in your workplace.
‘With a single, unifying drive behind both your culture and your brand, you reap the benefits of a focused and aligned workforce.’ says Denise Lee Yohn in Harvard Business Review.
How then, can you ensure that the way your employees speak and act is aligned with the external mission that you present to the world through your marketing and comms?
Consistency is key to building trust, so to make sure that all your comms and language align with your purpose consistently. Brand and tone of voice guidelines are an effective way to define not just how your brand looks but how it sounds, speaks and supports your teams. These can be branded, beautifully designed creative documents that exemplify how you should use your brand assets, or at a more DIY level can literally be written on a piece of A4 paper.
Are you funny or serious, casual or formal, quirky or corporate? What colourways and alignments should your logo be used in? Having rules that anyone who speaks or designs on behalf of the company understands and puts into practice is key to ensuring that what you’re saying and doing aligns with your purpose and values. It is also important for your brand to have multiple touchpoints across the entire customer journey, this will aid visibility. Consistency across these touchpoints will help you to establish trust with your audience, and guidelines will help ensure they are aligned.
‘Purpose is certainly not just a marketing issue or positioning of your brand image. Purpose should impact every aspect of the firm’ – R.Sisoid, co-founder of Conscious Capitalism and professor of Global Business at Babson College.
We hope we’ve given you some food for thought about the power of purpose.
At The Discourse, we have been designing incredible brand identities, websites and content marketing campaigns for B2B Consultancies for well over 5 years. We’ve proven that organisations that embrace brand, the web and content are more successful over the long term. Our clients typically spend from £5k to £20k on brand strategy and design, website projects range from £5k to £20k depending on size and functionality.