Image for post
Image for post

How to do purpose — connecting your ‘why’ to your ‘what’ & ‘how’

I was watching a video from a brand that highlighted its newly updated program. In the video, the on-camera person stopped to tell us the brand’s purpose. Then, she went back to telling us about the updates to the program. I caught myself thinking about the purpose she shared and not really listening to the message about the updates. I recall thinking that it was a nice message that sounded sincere. And I remember that I really wasn’t sure what it had to do with the updated program. By the time the video was over, I had a vague idea of the organization’s purpose and I had missed a good deal of the message about the updates.

Creating the statement of your purpose is important. But if it’s not connected to the ways it comes to life every day, it will always be just a nice statement that nobody remembers. Your ‘why’ should come to life in your ‘what’ and ‘how’. In other words, show people how what you do supports the difference you hope to make in a life, a community, or even the world (your ‘why’ or as I call it, your Big Audacious Meaning). This also applies to how you do what you do. It should be evident to those that you hope to serve that what you do and how you do it make your ‘why’ come to life.

Here is an example. Toms Shoes says, “We’re in business to improve lives.” The company started by giving away a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair that you bought. The company’s ‘what’ helps deliver on the promise of its ‘why’.

Let’s face it. We all don’t need something new to think about. Our lives are full. Our heads are full. An organization can leave it up to us to figure out the connection between its purpose and what it does and/or how it does it. But I guarantee you that, 99% of the time, we’re not going to do it. Heck, there are times that I get mad at brands, thinking why should I do your job for you? If you want me to feel something for your brand, then do the work to help me feel it.

Clarifying and embracing your purpose can be one of the most powerful decisions a brand can make. But you mustn’t stop there. People need to feel your passion for your ‘why’. Just as important, they need to understand the way it comes to life in what you do and how you do it. When you help them make that connection, you have the potential for them to become equally as impassioned about the difference your brand can make in the world.

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 https://www.dansalva.com on January 7, 2021.

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.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store