Brands these days are in the rush to stand for something, to have a social or societal purpose. Businesses are trying to become a force for something good or for a better chance. The idea of taking a stand for something by different brands is becoming greatly important and at the same time, it appears as a convincing and enticing move for a large group of customers.
In the recent past, brands were successfully running while focussing on different factors but now, the market has witnessed a great shift of focus to ‘Brand purpose’ for most of the brands. With this seismic shift of ‘brand purpose’ aiming towards a positive change in society, most of the businesses are it small-scale or large-scale businesses have all started glorifying and redefining their brand purposes.
Well, this apparently is a positive change. However, what is more, to dig into the matter is the rush to stand for something or some positive societal change. With this, companies have started putting the purpose ‘story’ ahead of the purpose plan and actions. They seem to be in a hurry to come up with a new Storyline that defines their ‘modified purpose’, be it ensuring some good in the lives of the people or a certain section of society or making the planet way greener or a step towards a cleaner planet, etc. And this is exactly what made ‘purpose’ hit the headlines again but unfortunately for the wrong reasons as this opportunity for businesses to genuinely play a positive role in society has been jeopardized.
In a competitive market, every brand is constantly trying to be better than its competitors. In order to be better in the eyes of their customers, marketing is one of the topmost priorities for brands. Because of this nascent discipline, the responsibility of creating ‘purpose’ has been given to the marketing team and that is exactly where they go wrong as the purpose is being used more as a marketing strategy and less as a plan of action. To understand it better, we can term it ‘Purpose Wash’ (same as greenwashing). The idea of welfare towards People and the Planet has become the burning topic to discuss & the focus is shifted to ensure the Purpose accordingly therefore it has rapidly become the C-Suite subject matter.
While it is critical that purpose-driven brands must look at commitments in the context of their entire operation, we need to completely get away with ‘purpose wash’ in order to give businesses and brands room to innovate plans for the future and to deliver an effective purpose strategy! But how can one avoid ‘purpose wash’ in the first place?
To begin with, we start by recognizing areas of work where one can start from and acknowledging that there is no point in pursuing the purpose in one area when other areas of your brand are doing huge amounts of damage.
It is also significant to acknowledge that brand purpose is the only way ahead to make a successful presence in the market for any business but at the same time, it must reflect in the company’s organic image without any filter or photoshop. So, let’s find out how exactly can businesses work on delivering an effective purpose strategy.
Here we enlist few things that businesses must work upon in order to deliver an effective purpose strategy, avoid purpose wash, and ensure great success:
One of the key things to remember is that the business strategy should be made to ensure that the Purpose is delivered, not just talked about. The gap between words and deeds, intent and action is what we need to overcome.
The purpose must be aligned with a sustainable business strategy. It means that purpose must not only drive action but also, must be created along with a sustainable action plan on how to achieve it. It shouldn’t be solely a marketing strategy but must be executed.
Last but not the least, business strategy should have one aspect to ensure great help to society. The idea of purpose aiming to make a societal change or stand for something positive must be taken sincerely by brands even if it requires them to come together to make it happen. The world is now in a time of crisis and it is significant to recognize that it is the need of the hour for brands to come together in pursuit of common goals.
Shreesh Pandey is currently the CEO of MSP India Corporation, a Marketing, and Advertising Solution Network. He has accomplished more than 12 years of rich work experience in Sales & Marketing, Revenue Generation, Public Administration, Government Affairs, Stakeholder Management, Corporate Communication, Public Policy, and Event Management with most of the big Media Houses across all genres (Electronic, Digital, Print).