An insight into the changing scope of 'purpose' and what it means for people and businesses.
‘Purpose’. It’s a concept that’s existed for a while. Recently, though, it has received a lot of new attention. That may be for its association with social purpose – brands wanting to be seen to be doing something for the greater good, contributing to a cause bigger than themselves. Generally, that’s seen to be in the hope of capturing the elusive attention of our desirable millennial and Gen Z audiences.
However purpose, brand purpose, is a lot more than just an attempt to do something good. It’s about a business understanding its true reason for being, its cause and belief. Yes, this is above and beyond the role of making a profit. But it doesn’t have to be about saving the world (although some brands really can claim to be doing this, and so they should!). What it is really about is inspiring. Inspiring employees and inspiring customers.
Brand purpose, at its core, is about getting beneath the surface and asking one crucial question: ‘Why? Why do we do what we do?’
In business, this is by no means an easy question to answer. It involves thinking outside of the day-to-day and digging a little deeper into our more emotive and conceptual thoughts. As humans we can struggle to put our emotions into words, and it’s no different for businesses – because, of course, it’s people that are behind the wheel of these businesses.
So, if it’s not easy, should I really bother?
Well, there’s an increasing amount of research that is proving the benefits of being a purpose-led business. Research has found that purpose-led businesses have more motivated employees, more satisfied and delighted customers and overall better business outcomes (improved revenue). That’s three pretty good reasons to bother.
Purpose gives strategic focus and discipline to drive decision making right across the business, from who to hire to what markets to expand into. It even comes through in how to structure personal development reviews. It truly permeates all corners of the business. And it also plays an important role in attracting and retaining talent. A Deloitte study found that employees are far more engaged when they work for a purpose-driven company – 73% call themselves engaged, compared to just 23% of those who work for a company without a purpose.
Purpose is intrinsically linked to culture. And culture is under the spotlight, like purpose, for its connection to not only employee wellbeing but also to business performance. Purpose helps shape the desired culture, and culture helps define purpose. They need one another to thrive.
So where does brand come in? Brand is the co-creation of the culture and the audience. Brand should use storytelling to communicate and demonstrate its purpose.
In a perfect world, brand, culture and purpose work together in perfect harmony to create a motivated and thriving workforce and business.
But how do I achieve that?
Clarity is the best place to start. Most businesses aren’t completely clear on why they do what they do, or even where they’re headed. It can be hard to find the time to think about it, and even harder to reflect on this whilst you’re head-down in the day to day.
So, the first step is identifying the need for clarity, and the second step – close on its heels – is carving out dedicated time (and resource) to put concerted effort into answering your ‘why’. The benefits of doing this will far outweigh the sacrifice of some blocked-out diary space.
Six are often the facilitator of these discussions. We have developed a series of workshops and exercises specifically designed to tease out the insights that help you answer this simple, yet complex and profound question.
And when I’ve found it, what do I do with it?
Once you’ve landed on your purpose, the next step is to communicate and embed it and move towards truly living and breathing it. This means every employee will understand their role in upholding it and feeling empowered to do so. Because where genuine purpose exists, passion follows and that is what will drive change and positive growth.
At Six, we work with HR and Marketing teams to develop engagement programmes that kickstart this process and provide the framework for ownership and roll out. Then we’re ready to take it external, with strategy-led standout creative that creates cut-through and resonates with audiences.
So, if you want to be in the best position to drive your business forward, attract and retain talent and maybe even find a deeper level of meaning in the work you do, then it’s time to uncover and champion your purpose.
If you’d like to talk more about the power of purpose, please do get in touch.