How to uncover your brand purpose – what do you stand for?

Many start-ups launch with a clear sense of purpose. They have identified a need, for which they have provided an answer. Some companies may even have a clear vision that, one day, their products or services could change lives, and industries, or even the planet we live on.

All too often though that original resolve; the compass that once guided them gets diluted, is poorly articulated or is simply uninspiring.

A truly durable purpose is not one that describes what you do, it’s one defined by ‘why’ you do it. Apple do not just make computers, they believe in unleashing our personal creativity. Nike do not just make sporting equipment, they believe they can inspire us to our best performances.

As Simon Sinek famously proclaimed,

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”.


In other words, organisations that are driven by ‘why’ have the power to tap into people at an emotional level and provoke the change they long to see.

What is a brand purpose?

A brand purpose is the ownable, actionable impact your brand will make on the lives of your target consumers, rooted in a fundamental insight. It lives at the intersection of what your brand offers the world and your consumer’s deepest cares and desires.

To find your brand purpose you need to ask yourself: Why does your organisation/brand exist? What is its long-term purpose to improve the society as it is today?

Defining and applying a purpose can have the most profound effect on a business.

The authenticity of what you do and what you sell will inspire support from customers who share your purpose because, in choosing your product, they’re living by their values too. So, the stronger your purpose, the stronger your connection to your customers will become. With a brand purpose, they’re connecting with you on a deeply personal level.

While we often think that decisions are based on rational information, like product features, benefits and price, the truth is that our decisions are mostly formed on emotion. Brands and products that simply list their rational features are, quite simply, addressing the wrong part of the brain.

Here’s the best part. You have something that’s infinitely more valuable than the vast majority of businesses have – something which will equip you to succeed where most corporates will fail. You have deeply held values and you have the means to make a difference in the world. The way you choose to run your business will validate your purpose as authentic and people will follow you because they share your values.

Don’t tell your people and customers about what you want to see change in the business. State what you fundamentally believe must change in the world. Coca-Cola wants to see more happiness. Disney wants to see more magic. Virgin wants to see more rebellion. Google wants to see more minds exploring. What does your brand most want to see happen? What do you passionately want to see stop? Whatever you decide: that’s the goal. And it should be one you are prepared to have interwoven into your marketing strategy and your business culture.

Today, everyone knows what they do. Some organisations know how they do it. But very few actually know why they do it. Very few brands can represent not only their products – but the people behind them too.

My advice would be to revisit your purpose. Think big, inspiring, simple and memorable. Aim to inspire every single person both inside and outside your company. Aim to make a difference.