Markus Kramer & Tofig Husein-zadeh, Authors, The Guiding Purpose Strategy
Building a successful, Purpose led business is probably the one thing that will make the difference between dying a slow death and building a thriving company in the decades to come. Empowered consumers, radical transparency across value chains and a generation of consumers that breath technology like air are just a few factors that underpin the changes ahead.
There is plenty of evidence already that companies with a clear Purpose outperform the market by a 9:1  ratio over a ten-year period. In other words, meaningful brands driven by a higher Purpose drive profits. Purposeful brands outperform the stock market by 133%, gain 46%  more share of wallet and achieve results that are double those of lower rated brands. In short, Purpose has moved beyond the woolly-feel-good concept of corporate social responsibility lipstick.
Here are three key areas every leader should bear in mind when thinking about Purpose:
Business models properly centered on Purpose build beneficial relationships with external stakeholders and drive culture from within. Think about Harley-Davidson for example. Does Harley build the best bikes? Well, who cares – you buy into the brand, work for the company or simply enjoy the ride because you belong to something much larger than the rationality of getting you from one place to another. Fulfilling dreams of personal freedom pushes a sense of internal and external alignment, drives margins up, increases retention – and makes sure that Harley’s logo is still the second most tattooed symbol on any human body for years to come.
We are witnessing times of unprecedented change: we already have self-operating vacuum cleaners, industrial factory robots, military robots, smart drones and much more. Applying Moore’s Law loosely to the speed of change in organizations, Purpose-led transformation will enter our lives a lot quicker than we think – and in such an environment, competitive advantage is execution and speed. Purpose provides the alignment and clarity across the organization to stay agile, react fast and move as one organic whole, short-cutting corporate red-tape yet keeping everyone on the same page.
Purpose increasingly speaks to the people with ambition. Take for example a millennial graduate we talked to being offered two equally very attractive job options: one at a major bank and one at Google. All parameters being equal (pay, fringe benefits, etc.), the power of Purpose can make all the difference. When asked why he chose Google over of the bank, the answer was as striking as deep: ‘Why should I help make rich people richer when I can help organize the world’s information?’ in other words, he considered Google’s Purpose to be more meaningful and attractive and made his choice accordingly. This is an example of how your Know-Why will directly affect your know-how going forward.
Activate on Purpose
A powerful and well-functioning Purpose aligns vertically and horizontally. Having a crystal-clear reason why you exist well embedded within your organization is more than a nice to have. Tomorrow’s know-how is no longer enough. Your Know-Why will be the new Know-How.
So what is your Purpose? This is not about a lengthy corporate mission statement – and it’s not some sort of long value articulation, either. If you can articulate the answer to this question in five words or less, then you’re in a good place. If your people tell you roughly the same thing, then even better. And if your entire value chain, your partners, suppliers and your customers are also clear on why you are here – beyond making money – then please move on.
However, and if you’re like most leaders we spoke with, then answering this simple question is actually much harder than it looks. So, here’s a short guidance on what to look for in a powerful Purpose statement:
- Purpose ideally starts with an action word (verb) that evokes a sense of
- Purpose provides deeper meaning for a brands ecosystem
- Purpose requires context that renders it universal yet unique
- Purpose expresses the overarching ‘Reason Why’ by relating to what you do
- Purpose is always true from within and a demonstration of utmost integrity
- Purpose connects with the head and the heart, speaking to both rational and emotional needs
- Purpose remains short, simple and memorable in ideally no more than five words
Individuals and companies with a clarity of Purpose are changing the world. The leaders, marketers, entrepreneurs, and individuals who understand this will be the positive change-makers of tomorrow.
 Sisodia, Rajendra, David B. Wolfe, and Jagdish N. Sheth. Firms of Endearment: The Pursuit of Purpose and Profit. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2007. Print.
 Smith, Shaun. “Customer Experience: On Purpose.” Brand Quarterly. N.p., 30 Sept. 2016. Web. 22 June 2017. <http://www.brandquarterly.com/customer-experience-on-purpose>.
About the Authors
Based in London and Zurich, Markus Kramer is a partner at Brand Affairs, a specialised consulting agency advising boards and executives on all aspects of strategic positioning and brand management. The broad range of brands Markus has worked with include Harley-Davidson, Aston Martin, Ferrari, banks & financial service providers, governments, NGOs, startups and many more. Markus is also a visiting Associate Professor in Brand Management at Cass Business School in London and recognised thought leader in the fast-paced world of cutting edge brand management
Based in Istanbul, Tofig Husein-zadeh is a brand strategist, business writer, psychographics researcher, translator and speaker. A former writer for Harvard Business Review, Tofig’s articles about luxury brand management are published by The Brand Age and Campaign and he is the founder of the biannual print magazine The Intelligentsia.
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