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Purpose is a waste of money if you don’t put it into practice

Sep 23, 2021

Corporate purpose works: it has been proven to drive growth, innovation, engagement and results. However, purpose is too commonly rushed, or cooked up by an agency to slap on the boardroom wall, use in a few speeches and dress up the annual report. Purpose is not a slogan, it is the key reason you exist, beyond (not instead of) making money. To truly identify your purpose requires far greater depth of investigation and consideration.

Corporate purpose needs to be authentic, aspirational and aligned across every facet and department of your organisation. It needs to provide clarity for senior executives, employees, stakeholders, and customers in terms of what you do as an organisation and provide real value in outlining a clear path forward.

That’s partly because there has been a shift in what attracts and retains top quality talent. Employees no longer want to burn the candle at both ends for corporations that don’t live up to their values. They are looking for something much more fulfilling than just a pay cheque. If you want top talent knocking on your door, you need to put your money where your mouth is and put purpose into practice.

The evolution of social media has also forced the need for greater transparency around how businesses and brands operate. Businesses need to be clear on what they do and what they say they do, as it’s now very easy to expose a gap between the two. If you say one thing and do another, you will get caught out. If you want brand trust and loyal customers, you need to put your purpose into practice.

So, while it is well documented that having a clear and defined business purpose is becoming more and more crucial, it is worthless if it’s not embedded across the organisation through a clear and actionable brand strategy.

WHAT DO WE MEAN BY PUTTING PURPOSE INTO PRACTICE?

Your purpose should be reflected in your business strategy, ambition, and plans. It should also be reflected in what you do, say, and how you behave. Critically, each of these four elements must be interrelated and fluid (not linear) and all captured in your brand strategy, and your putting purpose into practice (PPiP) strategy.

As a first step, all business planning should be guided by, and should help prove, the commitment the organisation has made to its purpose. This includes decisions made about funding and resources, and whether to remove, change or update certain elements within your organisation that do not align to your purpose (often a tough call). It also means that your executive team must truly understand the value of purpose and their role in delivering on it – that it is their responsibility, and that of the Board, to drive it forward across the organisation.

Sound difficult? Not with the right approach and measurement. At Brand Council we’ve been developing corporate purpose, brand strategy and putting purpose into practice for more than 16 years and are happy to share key insights to help you achieve your purpose-led transformation.