What are the practical realities of creating a purpose-led organisation?

The importance of a purposeful brand will not be going away any time soon. Why? Because it motivates the leadership and workforce during tough times. It’s the reason customers return even when they can get a better deal elsewhere. And the reason shareholders and investors are willing to give you time and money to make a difference. Purpose is crucial to securing long-term success.

But what are the key steps in moving from talking about purpose to being even more purposeful? To move from the ‘what’ (purpose) to the ‘how’ (being purposeful).

From more than ten years of client work at  Pulse Brands we have identified what we believe are the 12 principles behind a purposeful brand. Paying attention to these principles will help you think about how you and your organisation can live and develop purposefully.  Although being truly purposeful is an ideal, we can all journey towards being better at it.

Firstly, we see the brand as a Strategic Tool to help engage and connect with all the stakeholders (employees, customers, investors, suppliers and community) to achieve an organisation’s goals. It is shorthand for the vision and values/principles that shape behaviour.

And to be purposeful, a company needs to Stand for Something and stand out from the crowd. Understanding what this ‘something’ is and what it is not is critical to being purposeful.

It also needs to Serve Others. Organisations exist to serve others and a purposeful brand remains mindful of its customers, investors, community and the world it serves at all times.

An organisation requires Courageous Leadership capable of making difficult decisions and challenging the status quo on a regular basis.  How do your leaders demonstrate courage?

And, purposeful branding requires Ownership. All leaders and functions should manage reputation and not just the brand/marketing departments. Do employees genuinely feel that what the company does matters and makes a difference? Are they trusted and given freedom to make the right decision on behalf of the organisation?

A purposeful brand is everything going on behind the logo or name. It is the Substance not the spin. Would your customers miss you if you disappeared tomorrow?

Don’t underestimate how Small Things Make a Difference. Organisations can get hung up on big ideas or idealistic visions. In reality the small things can positively inspire your workforce, customers and investors. They demonstrate care and authenticity.

It Starts with the Individual.  We are all different. When there is a shared goal this difference can make great teams and build a business that can sustain success. Purposeful branding should provide a framework for the individual to act meaningfully. Does your organisation sufficiently empower its people?

How can you best build trust with your stakeholders? A good dose of Humility can show you really care. A purposeful brand never takes itself too seriously. Like humans, organisations/brands will make mistakes. Making a profit and being good to the world at the same time is a massive challenge. Hubris can kill a reputation.

The process of moving towards a purposeful brand has three key principles. Firstly, it must include Uncovering the True Essence of the Organisation. Every business or organisation is set up because there is a belief in being able to do something better. But the founding principles might have got lost over time. It might be a case of stepping back to go forwards.

Secondly, there must be a journey towards a Unifying Vision. The purposeful branding process starts with a clear vision of where the organisation wants to be and what needs to change to get there. How can you step forward if you don’t know where you are heading?

Finally, you must Work Iteratively. Building a purposeful brand is an iterative process. Building on what went before. Becoming purposeful is an ongoing quest. Does the current brand feel like an authentic evolution of what went before?

We know every organisation is different and that not all these principles will apply to every company. But hopefully they will help build an understanding of how the principles might be applied in your business in order for it to become more purposeful.

Categories: Pulse Thinking