How Purpose will play an important role in positioning in 2018
“In 2018 we will see brands moving away from ‘doing good’ for the sake of it, and returning to proper positioning. A brand’s purpose should ultimately be its reason for being.”
Lucy Tesseras* summarises what happened with ‘purpose’ in companies over the past few years. “Purpose has been moving up the agenda […] over the past few years as companies look to ‘do well by doing good’. But this year saw the beginnings of a backlash. Not around doing good necessarily, but around the misappropriation of the term ‘purpose’ when in actual fact it often comes down to positioning.”
Purpose misused in 2017
Let’s dive into this misuse of purpose. We saw two things happening on the purpose-field in 2017. On the one side, ‘purpose’ is being used as ‘a marketing buzz word’. During Purposed Amsterdam, 67% of senior professionals in the CSR, HR, Innovation and Marketing department** agreed to purpose being too often used as a marketing tool. You could see this as something positive: at least now, most people are more aware of the purpose-concept. However, when it is misused and abused too often, it looses it’s value.
Heineken’s Purpose campaign
Tesseras’ colleague Mark Ritson wrote an article about a recent campaign of Heineken, how it might be really inspiring, but how it actually was not really Heineken-specific. The campaign could have been for any type of organisation. There was no true connection to the core values and positioning of the brand.
“Schoenmaker, blijf bij je leest” (every man to his own trade) – is something that does not only apply to your core-business activities, but it might be just as true in the purpose-area. Stick to what fits your business!
Too scared to start
On the other side, purpose was perceived as something SO big, that it seemed like a way-too-daunting process to even start thinking about it. There is a feeling of ‘it will be such a big challenge to find and act on our purpose: let’s put it on the agenda for next year’. This is the other side of the purpose-hype-coin. It is perceived as very important, but we tend to put it off for now. We start acting on it when we have enough resources available. Thereby, we are missing important momentum. A day not spend on finding and acting on your purpose, might be a lost day…
Starting points acting on Purpose
So then, what SHOULD you do, and how should you do it? We’ve given you some starting points in these two blogs (why to have a purpose and how to find it). Furthermore, regarding positioning, Tesseras suggests: “In order for purpose to work there must be a clear line between a brand, its reason for being and how that is communicated to consumers”. So when looking for your purpose, keep it close to yourself and your organisation’s DNA.
“So when looking for your purpose, keep it close to yourself and your organisation’s DNA.”
It does not have to be the biggest, most aspiring purpose ever. Just start small and build from there. Let your employees think along about what should be done. Start by doing small projects, measure the impact, communicate about it. Learn, adjust, do better. We’ll continue to provide you with information to take these steps in 2018. Let’s team up for change!
Purpose & positioning closely related in 2018
“2018 should be the year brands move away from doing purpose for purpose’s sake (particularly when it is simply a clumsy bolt-on) and instead focus on brand differentiation through better defined positioning”, as Tesseras states.
When you’re building from your DNA, Purpose will have a very close relationship to the positioning of your organisation. And your branding efforts will benefit from it. You’ll have stories to tell. Authentic stories that will engage customers and prospects who share your passion and purpose. This will create true loyalty.
What are your purpose-resolutions for 2018? We’d love to hear them from you!
*Read the entire article of Tesseras here.
**55 CSR, Sustainability, HR, Innovation and Marketing professionals of large Dutch corporates expressed their opinion during Purposed Conference on the 5th of October, 2017, in Amsterdam.