The real purpose behind brand purpose

3 min readOct 16, 2020

Brand purpose. A topic that seems to crop up over and over again in marketing circles — especially at a time when people are revaluating what’s really important to them.

Some brands see huge success from tapping into a relevant brand purpose. Others are left licking their wounds from campaigns that quickly turn bad with messaging that falls flat. No wonder that it’s a hugely debated topic.

A brand purpose doesn’t need to change the world, but companies big and small seem to miss a trick when they forget one key thing: Being authentic is everything.

What is brand purpose?

Part of the confusion around brand purpose seems to come down to definition. But most people would agree that your purpose is your why. It’s simply why you do, what you do.

Over time, this definition has become merged to focus and include social and political causes, but it cannot be underestimated how important it is to remember why your brand exists, and the consumer problem that you actually solve. That’s what builds brands that last.

Why? Because most of the time when people choose a brand or product, it’s not down to loyalty. It’s based on what we think will best meet our needs. We’re creatures of habit and modern life is very busy. Strong branding helps us to shortcut much of our everyday decision-making process. It makes much of what we do a ‘safe bet’.

That’s why a strong brand purpose can help to weave together both the logical and emotional goals and values that people have. A meaningful purpose tied with an understanding of your customers can act as a springboard, leading to campaigns that can connect with people on a human level. See Nike’s campaign with Colin Kaepernick. A fantastic campaign that ties beautifully into Nike’s “if you have a body, you are an athlete” brand proposition.

Why authenticity is everything

It might seem like a good idea to tie your brand closer to ideals that your customers care about, but don’t make the mistake of making promises or goals that go far beyond what is actually possible — or what people want. Just ask Pepsi.

The lack of authenticity is where it can all go wrong. Standing for something that’s true is always more important than standing for something that seems like a worthy cause. If you align your brand with a social cause without a good reason to make more money, then it’s not purpose, it’s just more marketing.

And people have become very good at seeing through that, and then quickly telling everyone they know about it on Twitter. While purpose is important, consistently meeting the needs of your customers should always be at the heart of what you do.

Positioning is everything

The best way to make sure your brand is meeting the needs of your customers is to start at looking at your brand proposition and positioning. Our brand strategist Tink, recently put his thoughts together on this, but here’s a summary of the key attributes of brand positioning.

  • Brand positioning is the attributes of your what, how and why.
  • Your what is the easiest; what does your business offer? It’s important to consider a little detail.
  • Your how is all about your approach; think about your methodology for delivering solutions and experiences for your audiences.
  • Finally your why; this is perhaps the hardest part to your brand positioning. It’s simply about why you do, what you do. Think about the impact your service/product has for your customer.

Aligning all the different elements can make their customer’s lives better or easier. Shared values are important, but not as important as your customer’s needs. So keep your why top of mind but never forget theirs.

Here at Orb, we’re all about Better. Whether that’s building Better brands, Better messaging or just Better work. If you need help establishing and reinforcing your brand purpose, get in touch and have a chat with the team here.




We are Orb, a creative agency built on Better. Everything we do is to make your business Better.