We talk a lot about how businesses today need a strong brand, a clear purpose, and an inspired culture. Each of these brand components are playing a greater role in business success today. Sometimes it appears that if you just have one, you might be able to turn your business around. But this is no longer the case.
Without all three – brand, purpose, culture – working together and driving one another, rising to the top is not a possibility. Simply embracing purpose is no longer enough to stand out. Even the most talented people aren’t going to drive you into the future without a clear vision of what that future is. Likewise, a highly strategic and perfectly designed brand won’t succeed without purpose-led people who can bring it to life.
Purpose is only powerful when it is really brought to life – when it acts as the underlying driving force behind the business. And what brings a purpose to life? Your people. The culture you build. Your employees united around a strong, clear, aspirational future with a clear outline of how to get there.
A vague purpose is no purpose at all. Neither is a purpose that doesn’t dictate your leadership’s behavior and drives best practices that trickle down. So businesses who want to compete today don’t just have to lead with purpose, they have to deliver on that purpose – following through with every brand touch point, living their promise, driving towards their greatest goals, and bringing their employees together every day.
It’s in the Data For Business
When we look at the data, we see the role of purpose having more and more of an impact on business results. According to recent Gallup research, 88% of millennials claim they would remain at their jobs for more than 5 years if they “were satisfied with the company’s sense of purpose,” but only 27% report feeling satisfied with their current company’s values. And this low rating directly impacts business with low employee engagement, low retention rates, and increased difficulty attracting the right fit of talent – top concerns for execs today.
Linking Together Brand, Purpose, Culture
Strong cultures can’t happen in a silo. They require shared accountability and leaders who behave in purpose-led ways that set an example for the rest of the business. And although building a purpose from the ground up is always the easiest practice, it might not be an option for many businesses today. That’s why leaders need to understand how brand, culture, and purpose have to work together to position the business for success.
Although purpose has been accepted by many businesses and brands as a strategic priority, many are struggling to directly link it to their company’s culture. Because of this, purpose can’t do the job it needs to do. First off, HR, not always seen as strategic, needs to be involved. As people demand more transparency, more authenticity, and more purpose from the businesses they want to work for, HR needs to have a seat at the strategic table – helping build a purpose-driven culture that can come alive and drive the business forward.
It’s all about strong leadership, clear vision alignment, joining forces at the strategic table, and figuring out how to communicate an inspiring vision to employees. Because when employees understand why the brand truly matters – what is driving the behavior of the company and its values – they can then align themselves in ways that help the brand outperform the competition and position the business to thrive.
Into the Future
Brand, purpose, and culture are critical to the success of your business. Investing in your brand is a good first step into driving your business and its people in the right direction. But when you invest in your brand, you also have to invest in your culture and never stray away from the power of purpose. Understanding the ways in which culture and purpose are linked, and how they drive your brand forward, is key.
Getting aligned around purpose and delivering on that purpose at every touch point should always be a strategic priority. Infuse it into your culture and help it motivate your people forward. Your company culture – when truly led by purpose – can bring any strategy to life, position your business for growth, and situate your team and your brand to thrive no matter the obstacles ahead.
Emotive Brand is a brand strategy and design agency in Oakland, California.