Your purpose statement articulates why you do what you do. The thread of momentum that drives you beyond making money. If your business was to cease tomorrow, it’s the legacy you leave behind. If you think it’s wishy-washy marketing fluff, think again. Purpose matters deeply to people.
Yes, we are in business to make money, it would be unsustainable if we weren’t. To be truly sustainable though we need to be connected to a higher purpose. One that is tangible, inspiring and communicated clearly.
Companies that lead with purpose, witness higher market share while achieving higher employee, customer satisfaction and deeper connections with people that have a reciprocal alignment with causes they care about. Those that fail to actualise their purpose may survive in the short term but over time will fizzle out as customers expect more.
Your purpose statement needs to be authentic to the core and circulated throughout your decision making, processes, culture, staff morale and every aspect of your brand activity. Your purpose is your superpower, it’s the secret ingredient that brings your vision to life.
By embedding purpose into your brand you create deeper connections with consumers, do more for communities and attract and retain talent.
Young people around the world are being raised and educated with a deeper sense of purpose than previous generations. They are more aware of worldly issues and the impact of mass consumerism.
According to the 2016 Cone Communications Millennial Employee Engagement Study 64% of Millennials won’t take a job if a company doesn’t have strong social responsibility values and 88% of millennials, said that they believe their company should be responsible for helping to solve some of the world’s biggest problems.
Millennials are often subject to labels like self-centred and entitled. But in this case, is it really that unreasonable that they want their work to be more than a pay check?
Either way if you want to engage this demographic you need to take the route of being purpose led. Of course it doesn’t stop with young people, this data merely provides evidence that the trend towards purpose led marketing will continue to sky rocket. People in general realise they have some power to create social change in the world by choosing carefully the company’s that they support. For instance, the fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries on the planet, people are more aware of this now than they ever were. Because of this, in many circles it’s no longer cool to adorn high end fast fashion, or dirty fashion as I call it. Most of us would rather support eco labels or recycled clothing.
Research from Deloitte shows that what separates purpose-driven businesses from the rest are longevity and authenticity.
When former P&G global marketing director Jim Stengel collected 10 years of data across 50,000 brands, he found a direct relationship between a brand’s ability to serve a higher purpose and its financial performance. Businesses with ‘higher ideals’ – those focused on improving people’s lives – grew three times faster than their competitors.
Articulating your purpose can’t be done willy-nilly. Please don’t think of it as unnecessary fluff that you make up as you go. Poor outcomes will always follow when your purpose statement is a stitch-up. A superficial approach to defining your purpose will do more harm than good. It will be unauthentic and will drive good customers and employees away.
Whatever your purpose is, it should be ingrained into all aspects of your business. It is an organisation’s soul and identity, providing both a platform to build upon and a mirror to reflect its existence in the world.
Purpose doesn’t make decisions easy; it makes them clear.
Invest the time to explore your purpose and keep it real. It should always be used as the primary compass for navigating key decisions. So think carefully about how your purpose could limit you. For instance, if your purpose is to advocate for chemical-free living and you need to apply some chemicals, your purpose could disadvantage you.
A well-crafted purpose statement stays true over time: it should be specific and unique enough to be meaningful, but far-reaching enough to make room for expanding possibilities. Purpose statements need to be grounded in reality, but also have an emotional element.
It declares an ambition while being authentic and ownable. It should resonate on every level—individual, team, company, and society.
If you don’t have a succinct purpose statement, below are some questions to get you started:
How to find your why?
If your company went out of business. In retrospect, what would you want it to be known for? What legacy would you’d like the company to leave?
What great problem are you solving, or what movement are you championing?
If you don’t do it, what are the consequences? Who loses? Or who will do it instead?
Why do you all show up for this company and not the one across the street?
What are the things the company cares about the most? What’s non-negotiable?
What are the goals of your company that matter most?
Now finish the sentence:
We exist to……………………………..
The benefit game
This is an additional great way to find your big why.
To begin write down what your company does. Now jot down the benefit of what your company does.
Then keep asking yourself what’s the benefit of that until you break it down into a succinct purpose that fits your company.
Here’s an example of how the benefit game played out for Coomealla Dairy, a small scale family owned producer of artisan dairy products.
What do you do:
We are an Australian owned dairy farm. We care for our animals using sustainable farming practices to produce artisan dairy products that are free of unnecessary additives and taste great.
What’s the benefit of that?
Connecting Australians with a dairy product that is healthy and delicious. Whilst being sustainable for the health and well being of the environment, the animals and the local economy.
What’s the benefit of that?
People can feel good about what they are eating.
What’s the benefit of that?
Providing Australians with a wholesome farm-fresh experience.
Purpose statement: Coomealla Dairy – A wholesome farm-fresh experience.
How to actualise your why?
1 – Make it real –
Test your purpose statement out and see if it has sticking power for everything your organisation does and will do. Ask yourself is it tangible, pragmatic and potent enough for employees to be able to take it and make it their own. Before you release your purpose statement into the world, think: will employees be able to apply this to the assembly line? To the shop floor? To the R&D lab? To the marketing department? If not tweak it until it feels real.
2 – Lead the change –
Being truly purpose driven starts at the top of the organisation with leaders being transparent and accountable for everything they do. If you are in the relevant position, it’s your job to authentically model the purpose and ensure it is front and center of all top-level decision making and strategy.
3 – Weave it into your business –
Ensure that your purpose is communicated clearly internally and oversee that the purpose is fused into the culture of the organisation and everything your organisation does. That all your workers are onboard to bring the vision to life. That your process, products and entire business model reflect the big why of your business.
Purpose is nothing without passion, so be careful not to shoehorn your ‘why’ in for the sake of it. Live it and Love it. Make an impact.
4. Take action and share your story –
Like a moth flying towards a bright light, as you make a positive impact through your purpose the media will organically seek you out for a good news story.
You will also need to come up with creative ideas to explain your purpose, show how and why you’re helping, and compel your audience to get involved.
Maybe you interview the people whose lives your business is impacting and tell those stories? Or you could have a live count on your website that shows the difference you are making. If you’re going to create any real impact and have people believe in your vision, they need to see it to believe it consistently let your customers know exactly what drives your brand and why.
To summarise – Have a purpose that is tangible and inspiring. Make it real….weave it into everything that you do. By doing this you will naturally make an impact so celebrate it with your audience.
Share your story, share what you care about and the difference you are making. Connect with people that care about what you care about and build a sustainable business from that foundation.
You won’t have everyone’s blessing and that’s OK. Keep showing up authentic, motivated by a higher purpose and feeling good about you work.
Enrichment on so many levels will follow when your work is more than a mindless monetary transaction.
If you need help articulating your purpose, crafting your story and facilitating it’s journey through your marketing communications. Whisk Creative are here to help.