This week I was working with a fantastic design agency to help them define their purpose and I have to say they really surprised me, not only were they all genuinely very fond of each other but are all seriously passionate about their work do (branding, web design and marketing) and the clients they work with (fitness, nutrition and wellbeing).
But none of this had come across properly on their website or on the social media so when they told me that one of the senior designers flew to Germany to meet with a client and try out some of their latest technology all because he wanted to understand it better, I was stunned.
When I asked about why that was important to him, he explained that for him to help the client as much as possible, he needed to know more about their situation, their customers and their products. He felt that the best way to do this was with first hand, in person experience as it allowed him to ask lots of questions and deepen his understanding of the clients business.
This need to dig deeper and work with their clients, not just for them, was a huge part of the agency purpose - 'To make the world a healthier and happier place, by extending their influence through the success of the clients.'
So how was this mammoth two day 2000+ mile trip showcased?
A single post on Instagram that got two comments and 15 likes.
All that effort and I suspect nobody outside of the agency and the client in question knew about it. That’s such a shame and a real missed opportunity to demonstrate them living their purpose.
Sadly, this is a problem I come across too often. Even if a business knows its brand purpose, they rarely to they write it down let alone talk about it. It lives in the mind of the founder who will occasionally bring it up when talking to colleagues.
If you don’t talk about your brand purpose and write it down, how are people meant to find it?
Your purpose is so important because it lets people know why you are passionate about what you do and what you stand for. It also bonds the people within your organisation by shaping your culture and externally it helps strengthen the relationship you have with your audience of current and future customers.
It is often at the root of why we feel an affinity to one brand over another, and it’s this inexplicable bond of loyalty that allows brands to flourish and grow.
The bad news is that if you don’t start talking and showing your purpose, people won’t become aware of it. You are at risk of at best, being ignored and at worse, your customers choosing your rivals over you.
The good news is that it’s relatively straightforward to fix and starts with asking the first question:
1) Do you know what your purpose is?
If you do, fantastic, if not, would you like some help to define it? Once you know what your purpose is you next need to ask yourself the second question...
2) Do you talk about it?
Again, probably not and even if you do, not deliberately. So it’s important to start letting people know, not crowbarring it into every conversation, instead start doing the third part.
3) Start Writing it down.
If it only exists in the mind of the founder, then it doesn’t exist. By writing it down, you make it real. Something people can find, read and understand. It can be used to inspire your team, to show to new employees and put on your social media.
But this is where many Brands stop. They feel great because they are letting everyone know about it, but talking without action is pointless. Your business will need to doing part four.
4) Bring it to life.
Start going beyond the verbal into the physical. Actions speak louder than words, so start living your purpose and acting upon it.
If you are into Mindfulness, start a podcast, if you are a restaurant that was to support local suppliers, start helping them on their farms and fisheries. If you are an eco-friendly business, start auditing your carbon footprint and try to go carbon neutral.
Now you are fully living your purpose; it's time to do the fifth and final bit
5) Show everyone.
A picture is worth a thousand words, so start letting people know how you are living your purpose and make it easy to find. Start documenting what you are up to, showcase people you are working alongside and conduct interviews with thought leaders in your industry.
Using others to talk about what you are doing is a fantastic way of indirectly promoting what you are doing, without coming across as contrived or arrogant. Storytell across all platforms and engage people. Give them stories to take away so they can tell others and raise awareness about what you are doing, what you stand for and why you are passionate about what you do - i.e. your purpose.
Too many brands don't do this, make sure you're not one of them.