Learning from July: Purposeful Branding

Does your brand have purpose?

Lucinda’s blogs last month, about Pride celebrations and going plastic-free, might at first seem fairly unconnected. Yet they have something in common; they both tell stories about purpose. July has a purpose, a voice and a set of values: diversity and sustainability. You might even say the month has been branded.

Whilst July does not stand alone as a branded month (for example, Dry January, or Women’s History month in March), there is certainly a sense that this July was different: it was a month where people were on a mission to create change. For today’s world, it is not enough for brands to claim a value matters to them, but rather the value must be demonstrated and enacted.

 Are your brand values aligned with those of your customers?

Unilever’s CEO pointed out this month that aligning brands with purpose is essential to success. “In all our launches purpose is becoming more important. If you look at plastics, consumers led that. You would be stupid to not be a forerunner.” Here is a brand not simply claiming sustainability but championing it. With sustainable brands delivering 70% of Unilever’s turnover growth last year, it is clear that embracing customer values and enacting them can lead to success.

The war on plastics will continue beyond July but the message for all involved is that no longer can brands simply pledge to reduce plastics in their packaging, they have to be seen to be doing it.

Is your brand merely claiming values, or are you proving them?

CEB’s report on corporate brands released in January this year flagged up the difference between brand values and brand benefits. They found that ‘benefits’, the tangible outcome of having a purpose, were three times more likely to create brand connection than ‘values’ alone.

Part of the problem is that most brands have the same values: integrity, innovation, teamwork etc. Brand values are not the differentiating tool they once set out to be. This is not to say that ‘values’ should be scrapped altogether, but that we need to think creatively and purposefully about the language we use when talking about brand principles.

Not only does there need to be a layer above your brand values that sets direction, let’s call it purpose, but more importantly a layer below which converts them into action points and differentiating behaviours.


If we take one lesson from July it should be this: your brand must be able to demonstrate the beneficial outcomes of its values, or else risk having no purposeful values at all.

By: Joyce Esser

Comments are closed