The power of purpose.
We've heard a lot about it lately.
Not the self-serving type, enshrined in mission and vision statements - "to achieve market leadership", "to be the most profitable", "to have the most satisfied customers", and the like. These have been used for years to galvanize employees.
Rather, a core purpose, focused on improving people's lives in some way. One that can inspire and unite employees, customers, and the communities they serve, around a shared agenda.
Such purpose lies at the heart of brands that inspire strong loyalty. Just ask a Nike, a Whole Foods, or of course an Apple.
But how do you go about finding that purpose?
It requires a company to figure out why it exists, beyond just making money. To identify what benefit it brings to its customers, to its employees, and to the communities it serves.
In going about this, I've found it helpful to follow some simple steps:
1) Look deep inside the company.
Rediscover its heritage, uncover what it means to your employees, and what aspirations they have for it. The seeds of the purpose are normally there, in the company’s cultural DNA.
2) Look into the lives of your most loyal customers.
What does the brand mean to them, how does it help them, what are their aspirations for it, and what are their most pressing concerns.
3) Stop and reflect.
Bringing it all together has resulted in some of the most exhilarating sessions of my career. There are ways of formalizing the approach, but usually it comes down to a blinding flash – this is how we can help improve people’s lives.
4) Refine the idea.
Develop a simple, engaging, and memorable sentence, that captures its essence. This isn’t about a tag line or slogan, but it should speak to everyone who reads it – no company jargon!
5) Test it, test it, test it.
With the customers, employees, and communities you serve, to ensure that it's inspiring. If you need to be convinced, just watch their body language, it will tell you.
With the pace of change in today’s world, such introspection may seem a luxury. However, it's essential that a core purpose springs from the heart of the company, if it is to be believable.
In today's transparent world, it can't just be a campaign. Just look at the criticism that KFC’s “Buckets for a Cure” promotion, or indeed Pepsi Refresh received, because they didn’t seem genuine for those brands.
The company has to believe absolutely in the purpose, focused on improving people's lives. Everything that it does – its products and services, its communications, and its workplace - has to flow from it. (How To Create A Brand Culture...).
But when that happens, the customers, employees , and communities you serve will invest in it. They'll be united around a shared agenda.
In today's fast-changing world, what could be more valuable?