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Navigating Purpose-led Strategy: C-Level Executive Guide

Ask any business leader or C-level executive, and they’ll agree that successfully navigating, implementing, and building a purpose-led business is one of the most necessary yet challenging endeavours faced.

The events of recent years have catalysed the focus on how organisations and businesses impact society and how they care for people, communities, customers, and the world that we all inhabit — making it more important than ever to exhibit and embody purpose within a brand.

According to Forbes, purpose-led companies experience 46% greater market share gains and grow three times as fast. So, how do businesses achieve this leg up over their competitors? Purpose, in theory, sounds simple enough; but how is it put into practice?

In this article, we’ll explore how you can use purpose-led strategy to your advantage to improve your brand and business model and elevate your profits, all while building meaningful connections with your values and community.


What is Purpose-led Strategy?

In a purpose-led strategy, purpose provides the foundation for everything. It is the organisation’s raison d’être: its reason for being. A purpose-led strategy is more than just a marketing campaign, a business model, or a corporate social responsibility initiative — it is the very DNA of a organisation’s identity.

Not only can a robust purpose-led strategy generate sustained and elevated profitable growth, but it can also nurture stronger connections with clients, customers, and stakeholders in your business. This begins with having a clear purpose-led plan for impact, rather than just focusing on your presence in fast-growth economic markets.


Why is Purpose-led Strategy So Important in 2023?

To say that we’ve all experienced change over the last few years is an understatement. But in this global upheaval, business has become much harder. Society is much more discerning about what companies do and how they contribute to the world. Especially in oversaturated markets and with the younger generation of tech-savvy, selective consumers; people want to see brand authenticity and purpose: they want to feel what your company values and experience how it may impact them.

In 2023, responsible and ethical growth should be parallel to any purpose-led strategy. Your business should take care of your communities, customers, and the environment, rather than just your own shares and interests. Starting from a place of responsibility and honesty will go a long way in making formulating a purpose that not only resonates with your target markets, but also your team and organisation.


Your Guide to Creating and Implementing Your Purpose-led Strategy

In creating your purpose-led strategy, it’s essential to keep an open mind and have the bravery to step outside the box; to think not in terms of competition or markets, but in terms of your company values and those of your clients and stakeholders.

While creating and implementing a purpose-led strategy involves more elements than we can recount in one article, we’ve included the five most essential steps to propelling your company above and beyond the rest of the pack.

Step 1: Understand Your Purpose

If you’re going to have any measurable impact, your organisation needs to understand what it means to the people you serve. Purpose and value aren’t static. They aren’t just about market shares and competitors, either. Authentic, purpose-led companies don’t cater to a single playing field or industry, but rather interconnected interests and relationships between these economic ecosystems. By understanding how these interests connect, you can build your value and make it stick throughout this process.

Step 2: Form or Reshape Your Values

While you may be able to enhance your monetary value by innovating or extending existing products, services, or business models, the real benefits often come from non-transactional approaches — the ones that you develop by considering other industries and industries, not just your own. Consider current and future trends, methods to improve and maintain trust, and eliminate common pain points. It’s also essential to receive and consider outside perspectives rather than just focusing on feedback from within your company.

Step 3: Develop Your Purpose-led Strategy

This is the part that requires the most care and precision. You’re making choices that impact the entire company, not just your department. There are two main perspectives you might take when developing your purpose-led strategy.

If you develop your purpose-led strategy retrospectively, you’ll consider the following:

  • Look back on your business’ past successes and identify how you got to where you are now.
  • Identify how your business resonated with specific demographics and understand how you can strengthen this bond going forward.
  • What makes your business unique, and how does your past business model open up future opportunities and strategies?

On the other hand, if you’d rather pursue a prospective approach, you’ll want to:

  • Understand the part of the economy you want to work with — and project the potential you have to make an impact in it.
  • Consider trends and anticipate events that might affect your business plan in the future.
  • Identify any new requirements, opportunities, and challenges you’ll face later.

Whatever way you choose to create your purpose-led strategy, you’ll need to clearly articulate your choices and why you made them.

Step 4: Implement Your Purpose-led Strategy

Your purpose strategy should clarify your values and provide an impetus for action simultaneously. Don’t be afraid to get creative when proclaiming your purpose to the world. Your business’s purpose statement shouldn’t be so generic or narrow that it could apply to any company. You’ll need to work hard to translate your purpose-led strategy into action. Here are some common ways this can be implemented:

  • Transforming or restructuring the organisation, department, or leadership structure.
  • Building a culture that embraces the purpose-led strategy, starting from the board level.
  • Establishing collaborative structures and cross-stakeholder communication channels.
  • Redesigning processes to support value creation and prioritise stakeholder interests.

Step 5: Communicate and Measure Your Success

A purpose-led strategy is nothing if you can’t measure how well it works — or doesn’t work — and learn from it. Establish performance metrics and indicators for your business after implementing your new strategy. Make sure your metrics are aligned with your purpose-led strategy so that you can use relevant data to illuminate and advise future opportunities and decisions. It’s critical not to rely solely on quantitative data, however — qualitative measures are just as important to make sure the perspectives and values of all stakeholders are considered and incorporated into your strategy. You can use this information to continuously improve your performance and efficiency going forward.


What Real Improvements Does a Purpose-Led Strategy Have in 2023?

There’s no getting around the fact that navigating, building, and implementing a purpose-led organisation will be difficult. But formulating this strategy will help to have a clear picture of what an organisation is working towards.

You’re improving the relationships between you and your community.

By unifying your organisation, you’ll not only improve your business relationships, but you’ll help employees and clients get on board with your purpose. So often, your employees may ask ‘why?’ But with a transparent, purpose-led business model, they won’t have to. By putting purpose at the core of your strategy, your intent is self-explanatory.

You’re setting your business up to have a broader and more significant impact on society as a whole.

Thinking holistically allows you not just to contribute to your business or organisation – but to society. Now more than ever, society looks to how companies can bring value to the world and the role they play in improving life for everyone involved. Employees — especially younger ones — want to work for businesses that make valuable contributions to society, have a higher purpose, and act ethically, sustainably, and constructively.

You’ll motivate your stakeholders, employees, suppliers, and customers.

Corporate purpose is proven to improve and galvanise engagement, even in a period of economic and radical uncertainty. By articulating — and proving — a cohesive and agreeable goal, you’ll create genuine stakeholder engagement and encourage the formation of a coherent and productive organisational community.


Put Purpose into Practice with Brand Council

Purpose-led strategies are growing increasingly important in driving the success of your business. No longer is having an effective purpose strategy simply a choice; in 2023 and beyond, it’s now a necessity.

But when you’re embedded in your organisation’s current business model, it can be challenging to take a step back and consider how to reinvigorate it for the future. That’s why the perspective of an external party like a brand purpose agency is invaluable for your new purpose strategy.

Brand Council’s in-depth and proven Putting Purpose into Practice business model has helped high-profile businesses achieve incredible success for their purpose-led brands. We apply a multi-disciplinary approach to every strategy to create cohesive and impactful alignments between what your organisation does, what it says, and what it stands for. Get in touch with our brand strategy specialists today to find the answer to ‘how’ you create your purpose-led strategy that will pave the way for your organisation’s future.