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How to bring your purpose into your brand

There has been a lot written about purpose. And while the majority of it reaffirms the benefit of embracing one, there is little guidance on how to practically integrate purpose into the brand.

In fact, purpose seems to get lost when it comes to the brand story. Even with organizations that have a compelling purpose. It gets separated, placed a click or two deep in the website.

When that happens, it starts to drift back to the days of old corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs. Corporations would have some community service program or run a foundation that did some good. But it wasn’t really tied to the revenue-generating side of the organization (other than relying on it for funding).

Disconnecting the purpose from the revenue-generating side of the business leaves opportunity unrealized. Opportunity to change more lives and opportunity to advance the business. This is the principle of doing well by doing good.

I believe your purpose should be woven into everything. But that may be a tall order as we’re beginning to try and understand how purpose starts to enter our messaging. Rather than try to tackle it all, we should start with the essentials.

There are three elements we must examine at the very minimum as we look to bring purpose into all messages and all expressions.

  1. The name — Ideally, the name references the purpose of the organization. But in application, it tends to be less common. The name is the element that is least likely to change. Although it has been known to happen with a major rebrand. There are a few out there like Seventh Generation that rebranded with a name that represents its purpose. It’s worth checking out the Seventh Generation story as an example.
  2. The logomark — An evolution of the logomark could be an opportunity to reflect the brand purpose. It’s not as disruptive as changing a name, but it requires some extensive work. Just think about all the places it appears now. If you were to evolve your logomark, consider how it could reflect your purpose. What purpose-driven story could you tell about the new form your logomark takes?
  3. The rallying cry — At the very least, an organization should have a rallying cry that embodies the purpose. Do not call this a tagline. A tagline literally sounds like an afterthought. Something you tag on to your brand. Your brand deserves better than that. It deserves a thought that shows how your purpose is integral to the success of the organization. Just as the success of the organization is integral to the success of its purpose. A great rallying cry serves both sides of this equation. I’ll use the example of First Federal Bank. I helped them clarify their purpose “To help people and communities prosper.” From that purpose came the rallying cry “Welcome to Wellbeingville”. This rallying cry serves both sides of the equation. It addresses the aspiration we all have to feel confident and at peace with our financial life — which is the benefit of becoming a First Federal customer. At the same time, it points to the purpose of helping create a more prosperous community under the umbrella of Wellbeingville.

The great thing about these essentials is that they form our logo lockup. Since this logo lockup appears in all brand messaging, we automatically begin to represent our purpose in everything we do.

Purpose has the power to amplify the brand. But all too often, we don’t take the time to bring it into the day-to-day messaging. We need a place to start. Begin with the three essentials. And let your purpose begin to have a voice in every expression of your brand.

Dan is an expert brand strategist and author of the book Big Audacious Meaning — Unleashing Your Purpose-Driven Story. He is a founder at Will & Grail — a brand innovation company, helping organizations find their unique, undeniable and unshakable sense of purpose and create innovative experiences that bring it to life.

Originally published at on January 30, 2020.

Written by

Dan is an expert brand strategist and author of the book Big Audacious Meaning — Unleashing Your Purpose-Driven Story. He is a founder at Will & Grail.

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