brand purpose

The term “brand purpose” was designated by the Association of National Advertisers as the Marketing Word of the Year in 2018. With so much focus on the idea of purpose and engaging in core principles that help make the world a better place, many businesses are working on finding their own purpose and using that to drive their initiatives from a marketing and public relations standpoint.

With an increased number of businesses seeking out their purpose, one of the risks that has made itself known is the pitfall of a promotional stunt disguised as a purposeful mission. This can do more harm than good in the consumers’ eyes, and therefore this type of publicity stunt marketing should be avoided at all costs.

Even so, however, finding a core purpose can help drive a business forward with a clear objective in mind. Finding this purpose can be instrumental in formulating a long-term strategy for the future, as well. After all, no business should be focused on only short term goals — a clear, core purpose can define the path forward so that a business can stick to its guns and put in the proper time to make a strategy have a longer lasting impact.

The idea of brand purpose comes from a feeling of responsibility. Particularly for larger businesses — corporations, big tech, healthcare, for example — the idea of social responsibility has become more prevalent and consumers have come to expect a certain level of both transparency as well as accountability. Poorly executed “purpose missions” in the form of advertising or public relations initiatives that seem to only serve to make a business appear more favorable in the public eye can backfire.

Another factor that plays into purpose-driven marketing is the idea of customer loyalty. Customers tend to show more loyalty to businesses that have shown a clear purpose. Whether it’s giving back to the community or promoting ideals such as self-care or helping others, consumers tend to gravitate towards the idea of doing good. Brands that also align themselves with this mission may be able to gain increased traction when it comes to consumer favor and loyalty.

In order to determine a path forward with purpose, a business must really take a look at what it is that truly matters. Not every purpose will align with a business’ objectives — and choosing the wrong purpose or strategy can be misconstrued as being too self-serving or ingenuine. Taking a look at previously successful examples of purpose-driven marketing can also be helpful in identifying the best approach for a business to also get involved.

And don’t think too big, either! Not every business has the means, the reach, or even the necessity to involve themselves in a big huge story. Take a look at the community in which the company does business. What does the community need? Perhaps there is a large homeless or underprivileged population, or maybe there are communal areas that could use some TLC. Finding ways to get involved in the community can be far more impactful than attempting to get involved in a conversation that really has nothing to do with the business.

Purpose-driven marketing will continue to have a heavy presence in the forefront of many marketers’ brains as they find the best formula for success. Aligning with core principles and values can achieve a lot for a brand, but this approach must be done well and with tact in order to accomplish the right goals.

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Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 175 professionals in the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named "PR Agency of the Year" by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world's most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, and a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, was named to PR Week's "40 under Forty" list, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations" is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities.