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5 Stories: Putting Brand Purpose Into Practice

Purpose. As founders and marketers, we all know we need it. But actually implementing it and talking about it? That’s where things get a little trickier… 

As a storytelling agency, “how do you balance purpose with profit?” is one of the top questions we get asked. That, and how to share your brand purpose with sincerity. 

You see, in 2020, brand purpose itself needs to have a REAL purpose. For too long now, purpose has been shoehorned into so many businesses for the sake of seeming like they care. What we know for sure, however, is that the secret is to actually care.

It’s no longer enough just to talk about your purpose. You need to back it up with the goods, too. Your purpose needs to be something you live inside, amplifying the positive change you want to see by consciously making noise that reprograms brains to think and feel differently about the choices they make. 

Now, more than ever, the brands who make it are those who are brave enough to do business according to their vision and purpose. Brands must pursue their purpose. Hell, they must be positively audacious in sharing their purpose. 

This is about living up to your brand’s purpose, stepping up to be vital, not just relevant. That’s what marketing in the 2020s looks like.

We’re here to help you get there. 

Here’s our step-by-step guide on how to make sure your brand story is on the right side of history. Let’s go.

Step 1: Help your team understand the power of purpose

Founders, we see you. You’re out there, building a business, growing revenue… it’s only natural that something like purpose would be a little low down on your to-do list.

BUT if you’re reading this, we’re going to take an informed guess and say that you’re already sold on the importance of purpose. And maybe you get that, when done right, purpose can have a major impact on your profit too. 

Now you just need to get your team members on board. We’ve been there and what we’ve learned is that backing up your argument with data is the best way to go about it. Here are some points you can keep in your back pocket for those all-important presentations and conversations:

A survey of more than 35,000 consumers globally by Kantar found that just 8% thought brands should stop advertising. However, there is a clear expectation that companies should play their part, with 78% of consumers believing brands should help them in their daily lives, 75% saying brands should inform people of what they’re doing and 74% thinking companies should not exploit the situation. 

Where does your brand sit in these stats right now?

And purpose isn’t another buzzword, either. Promise. In Jim Stengel’s game-changing book, Grow, the former CMO of Procter and Gamble shares results of a 10-year study of 50,000 brands. His findings? The 50 highest-performing businesses are the ones driven by purpose. What’s more, these 50 businesses grew three times faster than their competitors. Boom.

Step 2: Beyond making money, why does your company exist?

That’s the question we start with as part of our 5 Stories canvas. Before you try and engage your community, your need to answer it loud and clear. 

  • Why do you exist?
  • Why should people care?
  • What differentiates you?
  • What problem do you solve?

What you’re offering must improve the lives of the people you serve. Visually, it looks a lot like this:

Allow your purpose to guide your priorities. As a brand, never forget who you are and where you came from. You’re here for a reason. Be sure your customers know about it through your messaging, your campaigns and, above all, your positive action.

Step 3: Back it up with data and insights from your customers

“Brand purpose is about making things better, not just making better things. Doing what matters to your customers authentically.” 

— Ben Crowther, Global Brand Director, InterContinental Hotels Group

Now you’ve started to think about why you exist, what the world needs and what you’re passionate about (no pressure!), it’s time to think about the most important component of all: your customers.

Because no Purpose Story is complete without getting your customers’ input, too. What it comes down to is your customers’ values and whether they’re aligned with your brand because THAT is the sweet spot. That’s when you start connecting more and winning hearts and minds.

Plus, we’ve all seen what happens when established brands jump on an unrelated social cause and make it about them, rather than their customers. A big no-no is marketing around assumed shared values as opposed to your customers’ values. 

If it feels forced, it probably is. Instead, lead with your customers’ values, expectations and emotions. Brownie points for actually investing the time in listening to your customers’ new needs, too.

Step 4: Know the difference between passion and purpose

We see this a lot in the startup world: passion getting mistaken for purpose. But, as Ryan Holliday put it in Ego Is The Enemy:

“Passion is form over function. Purpose is function, function, function.”

It’s all about being deliberate with your consideration. The work you do is critical to making a positive change. And your purpose is the thing that’s woven into every social media post, every interaction, every business decision you make. It shows up everywhere, in real-world, super tangible ways. 

Let’s face it, we’re living in unprecedented times. Whether you run a multi-billion dollar multinational or a one-person company, there’s no blueprint for how to move forward. One thing’s for certain, though: whatever crisis arises, the brands who own their stories and live inside them always come through.

Step 5: Create within the context you exist in

A word of caution: the way you tell your story matters. To make sure it comes across with power and positivity, you need to tell it in a way that’s in keeping with the spirit of purpose itself. That is, clearly, credibly and in collaboration with others.

It’s grounded in the real political, economic and social context that you operate in. The pressing issues that customers and investors can genuinely care about. Nothing has shown us this more clearly than the pandemic, BLM movement and government failures.

Right now is THE time to shore up your fundamentals. Then use your ability to pivot and be creative to address your customer and employees’ needs while staying true to your brand. The best way to do that is to go back to the foundation of who you are and stay true to that. If that part is solid, you can generate ideas that will not only help you navigate these times, but help your brand come out stronger on the other side of it.

Nike’s purpose is to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete (because if you have a body, you’re an athlete). Squarespace’s is to empower people with creative ideas to succeed. Tesla’s is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy. And Airbnb’s has one of our favourites: to create a world where anyone can belong anywhere.

At Make Us Care, our purpose is to help founders tell stories that resonate and move people into action. We’re obsessed with being a creative partner to our clients because the world really is a better place with them in it. 

What’s yours?


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Amanda Baker
Amanda Baker

Co-Founder at Make Us Care. I’m here to help founders, leaders and their teams build brands people actually care about. HELL YEAH profit matters but people matter sooooo much more.

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