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  • Writer's pictureCarolyn Butler-Madden

Seven Mistaken Beliefs Around Brand Purpose

Updated: Mar 24

Many business leaders and marketers are understandably quite nervous about how to go about developing a purpose-led approach to marketing their brand, in a way that doesn't feel like airbrushing.

Based on my own experience in building strategies around social purpose, plus research I’ve done into brands that have adopted successful strategies around purpose; and from conversations I’ve had with business leaders and marketers trying to figure their way through the purpose maze, I’ve observed 7 mistaken and limiting beliefs on this topic.

1. It’s all about developing a big brand-positioning piece

This thinking misses the idea that brands can start behaving with purpose through an action-based approach. Through action, brands can organically walk a path towards purpose. This is where supporting a social purpose can come in; and building a cause marketing approach around that purpose to engage people.

2. Purpose is just about ‘Marketing’

Building a purpose-led brand has to be a whole-of-business approach. An inside-out approach is one of the most powerful and authentic ways to do this. Starting with a brand's social purpose is a great way to inspire and unify the greatest asset your business has - it's people.

3. It’s about telling ‘consumers’ what your brand does for the world

Can we please stop thinking about people as just consumers? Please? They're more than just people to be sold to. Particularly when it comes to purpose, people are your collaborators. Some of the most successful campaigns have been where the brand plays facilitator; where they've invited people to collaborate with them. The brand is not the hero of this piece; the people they've empowered are. It can make for a really strong and emotionally binding relationship when it's done well.

4. A Purpose-led approach won’t drive short-term sales

When you take a cause marketing approach to purpose, it's one of the most effective ways to drive brand sales and brand health outcomes like "a brand I can trust" or "a brand I can relate to".

5. You need a big media budget to support a purpose-led campaign

A strategically-driven cause marketing approach can open up exciting partnership opportunities. Airbnb's "Until We All Belong" campaign supporting marriage equality is a great example of this. Through partnerships with Qantas, ANZ, Fairfax Media, Google and Marie Claire amongst others, they unlocked millions of dollars in free media value.

6. You need to create your own stories to support your purpose

A cause-led approach can unearth a treasure-trove of stories that already exist. Inspiring, positive, uplifting stories that your brand can bring to life.

7. It’s hard to justify investment in a purpose-led approach

If you take a traditional approach to building a purpose-led approach with full blown media support, it's going to be a hard sell to your CFO. But what if you take a bite-sized approach? A cause-led campaign allows you to do this and measure effectively against 6 key areas: i) brand health ii) brand sales iii) ROI iv) brand sociability v) internal and stakeholder impact and social impact.

Once you have those metrics in hand, it won't be so hard to convince your CFO of the value of investing in this strategy.

By supporting a social purpose and using a cause marketing approach to engage all of your stakeholders, brands can organically walk a path towards purpose. It's an action-led approach which, when done well, should leverage partnership, collaboration, storytelling and ultimately deliver real impact.

If you'd like more insights like this, or would like to read some inspiring case studies, you can claim a free copy of my paperback book "Path To Purpose" here. I've only got limited number of copies, so this offer will only be available for a limited time.

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