Don’t Confuse Your Brand Purpose With Your CSR Initiatives

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Marketing has gone through some major changes in recent years, driven by consumer expectations about how businesses should behave. It’s no longer about getting people to like your products, it’s about getting them to love your entire company. The days of brand image where you could say one thing and do another are over. The job for companies now is to build brands that people can really believe in and want. People want to see evidence of a brand committing to a purpose, not just carrying off a one-off-stunt. And if a brand is supporting a particular purpose, they should be in it for the long term. This is called brand purpose.

Brand purpose should not be confused with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). While CSR initiatives are important and have a place, it’s different – because they tend not to relate directly back to the product. For instance, if Cadbury’s staff painted a school as a way of donating their time, energy and resources to their local community that's a worthy CSR idea, but it doesn't say much that is meaningful about Cadburys.

Here’s the difference: The UK’s high-street retailer, M&S recently launched a new range of low-impact men’s jeans, joining it to its 296 other eco and ethical commitments. M&S has a strong commitment to brand purpose; the company’s sustainable credentials through its Plan A have been both powerful and transformative.

How do other brands without such trusted reputations fare?

Given London, a brand purpose consultancy, which helps brands of all types and business sectors grow by doing good, believes that there is a brand purpose opportunity for every company, one which will resonate with its customers, engage internal teams and create impactful, positive change in the world. Given London’s Wayfinder tool shows how brands can find an impactful purpose, which is right for their business and their customers. The Wayfinder is based on the science of human motivation, using it to illustrate 12 diverse brand purpose approaches that will positively—but differently—engage customers and other key stakeholders. Interesting takes on brand purpose uncovered by the tool include meaningful adventure, status through substance and tough love, and include examples of brands that have used less obvious sustainability messaging to bring purpose alive for their audiences. The tool highlights that, by only using traditional sustainability motivators such as being collaborative, harmonious or ‘nice’, an array of other powerful, human motivations which apply to whole customer groups and brand styles are missed.

Businesses don’t need to rely on having purpose in their DNA, and they don’t have to take a one-dimensional approach when it comes to developing a brand purpose. The key to (re)building a brand on a purpose, and not simply a promise on what it can offer, isn’t just to help consumers understand what the brand stands for but, perhaps more importantly, to fire up product innovation and positive actions, and the behaviour of a business.

Photo Credit: London Given Wayfinder