By Dr. Marcus Collins, Professor of Marketing at the Ross School of Business at University Michigan, and Head of Planning at Wieden+Kennedy New York
Brand purpose is acknowledged as a must-have for companies today, but it’s a concept that is often misunderstood and misused. So, what do we really mean when we talk about it?
Nowadays, everyone is exposed to countless brands daily; however, many of these brands go unnoticed or overlooked. Brand purpose gives more meaning to an item or service, which allows customers to show or express themselves through a specific brand.
To better understand what brand purpose is, I refer to it as ‘brand ideology’ instead. Therefore, when considering an item or service as belonging to a certain ideology, this allows the item or service to have conviction, and express a world view. In essence, the brand’s belief.
So, when a brand signifies a certain meaning, it signifies the ideology of the brand and what it means to be this brand. Subscribing to a certain identity or ideology entails informing certain behaviors as well; akin to how we think about culture. However, it is important to note how the ideology can do more for the brand than the brand promise. A brand promise allows the customer to have certain expectations when dealing with this brand.
The meaning of the brand signals the ideology of the brand and is ultimately correlated with customer behavior. For instance, if given two brands, the first one being superior in quality and characteristics, while the second has brand ideology/purpose, in more cases than not, the brand purpose will attract more customers. This ideology might resonate with consumers and matter to them more than how ‘good’ the product is.
This shows us how a brand promise allows customers to have certain expectations when dealing with it; it is also important to note how the ideology can do more for the brand than the brand promise.
When a brand has clear convictions and ideologies, it has a direct impact on the workforce’s behavior. It is important to note that a big part of creating brand ideology is being authentic as a brand. Furthermore, one of the most important and invaluable equities a brand can possess is trust. The brand needs to walk the talk, as this is what builds trust with audiences and followers.
From the consumers’ perspective, purchasing products or services from a brand that carries the same beliefs and ideologies as themselves, will allow them to use this brand as a means of expression of identity for them. Thus, having a solid brand identity is one of the strongest competitive advantages a brand can have since customers will choose them over other brands. To conclude, “I buy what I buy, not because of what it is but because of who I am.”