The New Measurements of a Successful Business

What does it mean to be a successful business?

In the new age of meaningful business, it’s time for more inclusive forms of value. It’s no longer enough to measure financial impact. Companies, brands, investors, entrepreneurs, and consumers are asking: what’s the social impact of your business? What’s your environmental impact? Your emotional impact? In other words, people are asking: Why should I care? Why does it matter? And they are also wondering, can you communicate the value of these impacts to me quantitatively?

In any successful business, there is value outside the actual venture. Endless factors play into the success of a business, and these factors differ from company to company. In other words, measurements of success for one brand may not apply to another. This makes finding a universal measures quite difficult.


Oftentimes, measuring purpose is ignored, put in the “aspirational” box, and left to sit – separated from business, undervalued, and never quantified. But we can’t separate aspiration from business. The two are intertwined and, in fact, hinge on each other. Alignment of purpose within a business energizes and focuses the brand towards success. Clear, strong, and inspiring purpose differentiates and gives brands a needed competitive edge. It empowers employees to do more valuable, impactful work and encourages a collaborative leadership team – a purpose-led business.

A purpose-led business helps everyone who is key to the business become aware of the impact they are creating each day. By measuring purpose, the “whys” become clear and tangible: why you go to work every day, why your work matters, why each individual’s contribution matters to the greater success of the company and the world at large. Focusing on purpose pushes the people who are integral to your business to take risks, think creatively, and dedicate themselves to their work each and every day.

Measuring Purpose

We wish we could tell you exactly how to measure the purpose of your business. The fact of the matter is that in order to quantify purpose for your specific business, first, you have to fully grasp and align your business – understand all the factors, emotions, and components of why you do what you do. In order to break down your purpose, you must approach it from all angles. What are your key values? Your main aspirations? How do you measure each of these tenants and promises?

In his article, “Measuring Purpose. The next key business imperative,” Hilton Barbour proposes ten potential questions that might help Nike measure its purpose: “to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.” We believe Barbour’s questions are a great example of how any business might measure and quantify their impact, be it innovation or inspiration, like Nike, or any different purpose.

  • What do we define as inspiration and what part do we play in that inspiration?
  • How many inspiring products do we sell (and therefore who do we inspire and to do what)?
  • What did those products cost to develop?
  • What do we make from them?
  • To what extent are we making money from products that continue to inspire vs. those that are re-inspiring vs. those that will inspire into the future?
  • What is the “inspiration” contribution of our product vs. that of the sponsored athlete, high school jock, and weekend warrior wearing it?
  • What innovations have we introduced in the last year for athletes?
  • How many of them have we sold?
  • What’s still in development and what are the projections for those products in the business case?
  • How quickly is our innovation cycle being realized in terms of saleable goods and what effect are those innovations having on our bottom-line?

We agree with Barbour that this introspection about measuring purpose is not only worth it, but necessary to do doing meaningful, purposeful, and impactful business.

Your brand’s purpose warrants measurement and time dedicated to building a personalized system for your business. Ask questions and believe in your purpose to the extent that quantification and qualification of it matters, that it truly does drive success both internally and externally. Build a measurement system that can be explained and communicated to all the people that matter to your business’s success.

One that:

  • Inspires and keeps your business moving and looking forward.
  • Demonstrates possibility and generates potential. That’s what purpose is all about.

To learn more about why meaningful brands should measure their positive impacts, check out our blog “If You Want a Meaningful Brand, Make a Meaningful Impact.”

Emotive Brand is a San Francisco branding agency.

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