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Characterizing Your Organization’s Brand Purpose

Brands today are working hard to connect with people on a deeper level; they aren’t just selling products, they’re using what they sell to show what they stand for. This change begs the question of: What does your brand stand for and why should people care? Understanding and sharing what makes your brand special isn’t just a smart move; it’s necessary in today’s competitive market.

In conventional thinking, brands equate relevance primarily with purchase intent. However, the concept of relevance can be both more actionable and authentic if brands align with their audiences on matters of paramount importance to them. For certain brands, there is the temptation to hastily align with the most popular causes—be they environmental, equality-focused, or ethical—in an attempt to appear relevant.

Yet, this approach often proves counterproductive, especially for brands subsequently accused of misleading their audiences. Such hasty alignments are usually perceived as insincere and can ultimately damage a brand’s credibility and trustworthiness. Thus, it is imperative for brands to engage with causes in a manner that is both genuine and reflective of their core values, ensuring that their commitment is perceived as both authentic and enduring by their varied stakeholders.

“The results of these efforts are collectively contributing to building a resilient and influential brand that not only enjoys customer loyalty, but also holds a distinctive place in the market.”

Fostering Brand Trust by Mattering More

In Fast Company’s “2023 Brands That Matter” list, the publication highlights companies that are making committed efforts to lead the way in social action, sustainability, inclusivity and fun. Below are the some of the themes and companies acknowledged by Fast Company:

Consumer Brands:

Bose: Beyond products, Bose commits to gender equality in the music industry through its “Turn the Dial” initiative. This effort brings attention to the minimal representation of female producers in popular music (only 3% in the past decade) and actively partners with female and nonbinary artists to address this imbalance.

Farmhouse Fresh: With its newly launched rewards program, “Farmtopia,” FarmHouse Fresh offers benefits like free shipping and product samples to loyal customers. The company not only refrains from animal testing, but also supports animal welfare through its FarmHouse Fresh Rescue Ranch Sanctuary, housing 43 animals whose care is funded by product sales profits.

Education & Skill Development:

Quizlet: Built on ChatGPT’s API, Q-chat is the first adaptive artificial intelligence (AI) tutor designed to enhance the user experience for students utilizing Quizlet’s study tools. It introduced features like AI-generated multiple-choice questions and “Smart Grading” (available with Quizlet Plus) for fill-in-the-blank memorization exercises, which assess the understanding of terms or phrases rather than focusing on minor details like spelling.

Purdue University: Has launched “Purdue Innovates,” a strategic initiative promoting innovation among students and faculty. Over the past year, this initiative has seen substantial activity, with researchers filing more than 500 patent applications, the launch of nine startups and the distribution of seven awards from the Trask Innovation Fund to bolster the university’s intellectual property.


ADP: Last year, ADP launched ADP Pay Insights, which offers a free monthly wage report informed by payroll data, aiding companies, governments and the public in understanding wage and labor dynamics. Furthermore, acknowledging the prevalent financial stress, ADP provided an option for users to allocate part of their paychecks to an emergency savings fund via the myWisely app, accumulating more than $1.2 billion in deposits over 12 months.

CIBO: Through CIBO’s platform, CIBO Impact, businesses can manage sustainability commitments and reduce their carbon footprint via practices like regenerative agriculture, carbon farming and carbon sequestration. Last year, CIBO introduced the Carbon Bridge Program, which financially incentivizes farmers to adopt regenerative agriculture practices, facilitating more widespread participation in sustainability initiatives.

The Influence of Socially Committed Brands

In summary, each of the abovementioned companies is actively contributing to building a better, more inclusive and sustainable future by addressing various social challenges through their initiatives, products and services, which is paying off in the following ways:

Increased Customer Loyalty

When companies genuinely engage with causes important to their audiences, they foster a deeper emotional connection with their customers. This alignment of values between brand and consumer cultivates loyalty, as customers are more likely to support businesses that reflect their personal beliefs and ethics. Consequently, customers become long-term patrons, often serving as brand ambassadors who voluntarily promote the business within their social circles

Marketplace Differentiation

In today’s saturated market, supporting unique and authentic causes provides a competitive edge. A strong commitment to specific values helps brands distinguish themselves from competitors. This differentiation is vital in attracting and retaining consumers who are increasingly opting for products and services from companies whose social responsibility initiatives resonate with their own values and worldview

Brand Identity

Brand identity is essentially how a brand presents itself to the world and is perceived by audiences. Engaging with meaningful causes not only enhances a brand’s image, but deeply ingrains these values into the brand’s identity. This cultivated identity helps in building a consistent and strong brand image that is easily recognizable and deeply connected with specific values or causes, fostering a sense of reliability and trust among consumers.

Positive Brand Awareness

Active engagement with social causes positively influences public perception, generating increased awareness and approval. When a brand is associated with positive initiatives, it naturally attracts more attention and admiration from the public. This enhanced brand awareness is not merely broad, but also favorable, often leading to an expanded customer base, increased sales and significantly more market share. Positive brand awareness also facilitates a smoother entry into new markets, as the brand is already associated with trustworthiness and goodwill.

The results of these efforts are collectively contributing to building a resilient and influential brand that not only enjoys customer loyalty, but also holds a distinctive place in the market, characterized by a strong, positive identity and widespread brand awareness. These are crucial elements for any brand aiming for long-term success and sustainability in today’s competitive business landscape.

Questions? Please email me here. As always, thank you for reading!

Photo by Mario Heller on Unsplash