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  • Writer's pictureCarolyn Butler-Madden

4 Ways to Market a Purpose Led Brand

Updated: Sep 27, 2021

Marketing used to be an aspirational career. These days it is viewed with deep suspicion by many. For some, marketing is seen as the dark arts. A manipulative, pushy, intrusive industry that is tolerated, not loved.

Yet marketing is incredibly powerful. We have all been influenced by it. You have probably been influenced by it more deeply than you realise.

When my daughter was about four years old, I decided to do a little experiment.

We were driving somewhere. I was driving and she was in the back in a child seat. As we headed over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, I spotted a sleek convertible car with the roof down. As we drove past it, I said to my daughter “Oh no, look at those poor people” and I pointed to the car. She followed my finger and saw the convertible. I went on. “Those poor people can’t afford a roof for their car. Isn’t that sad?”

I could see her face in the rear view mirror. She looked wide-eyed. Her brows furrowed and she looked really sad. There was no moment of questioning what I said. She accepted it. I heard her saying to herself “poor people” in a really concerned way.

From then on, every time we saw a convertible she would say “oh look mummy. More poor people can’t afford a roof”. We’d commiserate together on that.

Okay judge me if you will, but I was genuinely curious about this and I figured it wouldn’t hurt her. In fact, it could be a valuable lesson for her when she eventually found out.

It took a few years before she learnt the truth. One day she came back from an outing with a school friends of hers and their family. She marched in, looked me square in the eye and called me out on it.

We laugh about it now. But the point is, what makes convertible cars so attractive? Why do people pay significantly more for a car with a roof they can take off?

It’s marketing. Marketing shapes how we look at so many things. More than most of us even realise.

It is incredibly powerful.

This brings me to the question that I get asked so often by businesses who are on a path to purpose.

How do we market our purpose?

They want to know how to tell people about the good they’re doing, without coming across as chest beating. Nobody likes a chest-beater, particularly when it’s telling people about how good you are.

Let’s take a look at the way that question is framed. It just reeks of manipulation doesn’t it? Exactly what a purposeful organisation wants to avoid.

So how do you market your purpose authentically?

Reframe your perspective on marketing. Reframe your relationship to marketing as a business that is on a path to purpose.

If we accept that marketing is incredibly powerful, then how can we use it to scale the impact we want to create?

Here are four ways to re-frame your thinking about how to market your purpose-led brand...

1. Action over Advertising

Instead of thinking about how to advertise or market your purpose, ask yourself what actions your organisation can take as a result of your purpose. The defining characteristic of a purpose-led business or brand is the actions beyond business-as-usual that their purpose inspires. You will become known by the actions you take, not by telling people what your purpose is.

2. Invite “Collaboration over Communication”.

A Purpose-led brand should think less about communicating their impact - “the good they do” - and think more about how they can collaborate with others to scale their impact. Marketing becomes an invitation to join your business in creating impact, instead of a communication of how good you are.

3. Position others as the heroes of your story

A common mistake is to try to make your brand the hero of the story you’re telling. That’s always going to be a hard story to sell, especially in Australia where we dislike the idea of anyone big-noting themselves. Instead of asking your audience to see your brand as the hero, make others the heroes of your story. Make your customers or clients the heroes. Make your impact partners the heroes. Make your impact recipients the heroes. Make your employees the heroes. Think about the Airbnb campaign that we've covered in previous blogs. Who was the hero of their campaign? It was the family and friends of LGBTQIA+ individuals. It was the individuals themselves. And it was also the viewers, as they were invited to take the pledge and support the Yes vote for marriage equality. Airbnb was simply the facilitator for the initiative.

4. Create movements of change over marketing your purpose

Think about how you use marketing to build a movement. Once you accept the power of marketing to influence and shape movements for change, you can then choose how to use it positively.

It is that simple. It is also that powerful...


FREE WEBINAR - How to Market your Purpose

Tuesday 5th October, 12:30pm - 1:30pm (AEST)

Action is the single-most fundamental characteristic of being a purpose-led business. The ability to market your purpose is essential in maximising the impact you are committed to creating.

I want to help you take this action. So on Tuesday 5th October at 12:30pm AEST, I’m going to be diving further into these 4 steps through our free webinar- How to Market Your Purpose. We’ll be building on the foundations we’ve covered in this blog and how you can action them, so you can start getting your business on a Path to Purpose.

This webinar is part four of a six part webinar series covering the six pillars of purpose. You can also register for individual webinars.

...AND for every webinar attendee we also provide one day of education to a girl in need, to create strengthened family and safer communities. So if you have someone that you think might be interested in this series- bring them along!

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