What’s your purpose?

Three ways for SMEs to define their brand purpose.

In business a trusted brand is essential for success. Trust builds reputation, which increases customers’ propensity to buy or recommend a product or service.

It sounds pretty simple. But rarely a day goes by without new revelations of corporate misdemeanours that cause audiences to become increasingly sceptical about the true intentions of businesses.

So, how can you overcome this barrier and build a trusted brand?

First things first                                                         

Begin by thinking closely about your business. Why does it exist beyond making money? What led to the company being founded? Why should people care about your brand over your competitors?

In today’s hyper competitive world, it’s unlikely you can secure customer loyalty for simply doing the right thing or a job well done. This means a business must go above and beyond to establish trust by ensuring key audiences understand its brand purpose.

“A business must go above and beyond to establish trust by ensuring key audiences understand its brand purpose.”

When brands get it right, purpose is a great driving force for building brand loyalty with your external and internal audiences. But purpose created solely as a marketing tool will fail. It needs to be all-encompassing and embedded into every aspect of your business.

One of the biggest pitfalls for brands is when they make big claims that they can’t live up to. When brands go beyond their respected remits of purpose, it’s not believable and it gives the perception that a brand is trying to cash in on meaningfulness.

Taking a stance

In an era of filtered perfection and fake news, authenticity is in high demand, largely because so much of the world around us feels constructed, artificial and fake. To cut through the noise, a brand purpose must stand for something.

In recent years, brands which stood up for their beliefs have created some of the most memorable marketing.

However, this also carries risks that need to be carefully considered. Nike’s ad with American sports star Colin Kaepernick saw the brand lose sales and share value. But on the flip side it also meant that people who believed in the brand’s purpose applauded it, and it sparked dialogue about the role brands should – or should not – play in tackling societal issues.

More consumers are looking to interact with brands that recognise their differences and diversity as individuals and communities. Increasingly, consumers are looking for communities that align with their values in the search for more authentic connections.

So how can this be done? A good starting point is to consider your social media strategy. Does it allow direct access with customers? Social media, particularly video-based and live channels such as Instagram Stories and livestreaming, can facilitate more direct conversations with customers, which feel more authentic as their real-time nature means they are unfiltered – and largely unscripted. You can use them to share behind-the-scenes content, giving customers a window into your worldview.

Three tips for defining your brand purpose

Be relatable, be honest, be transparent. Creating an open, accessible and down-to-earth brand persona can boost perceptions of authenticity and build trust in your brand.

Look to humanise your brand as much as possible. What kind of friend would it be – empathetic, energetic, funny, compassionate, loyal? Whatever the factors are for your brand, ensure that you demonstrate the values that matter to you in all of the interactions you have with your audiences.

Avoid corporate jargon at all costs – it’s insincere and hard to relate to. Bring your brand to life with the use of natural, simple and straightforward language.

Steven Reilly, Managing Director Australia, LEWIS Global Communications

This story first appeared in issue 26 of the Inside Small Business quarterly magazine.

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