A Purpose Driven Model for Brands

In an increasingly interconnected world, the old idea of a brand and its ‘positioning’ just isn’t working anymore. What gives brands focus and flexibility (and the ability to engage and deliver impact both internally and externally) is not a single-minded idea or position, but a sense of purpose. And although many brands are becoming purpose-driven, there hasn’t been a standard framework for articulating it. Here’s the one we use here at Grounded (thanks for the inspiration @zeusjones)

Belief. Purpose. Pursuits. (BPP)

Belief:

This is the single-minded, profoundly human belief that the brand has about the world. It anchors the brand’s ambition and provides the inspiration for its purpose.

Purpose:

A purpose operates on a very high level – expressing how the brand will affect culture, serve people or change the world for the better in some way. In other words, it’s what the brand exists to do and achieve. A good purpose helps a brand, business or organization go to market in lots of different ways, and constantly inspires new thinking. But having a big, inspiring purpose can also lead to a lack of focus and even back-fire (if not communicated internally first and then systematically put into action). It can be a close shave #GilletteAd

Pursuits:

The answer to helping the brand or organization realize its purpose comes in the form of 'pursuits'. These describe the specific efforts that the organization and brand will invest in, structure itself around and build outcomes against - to activate the purpose.

Here’s our BPP for Fresh Air Fund.

The simplicity of the BPP framework is one of the reasons it has been adopted across many Fortune 500 companies. The framework has worked well and driven change for many brands but, if not used or applied properly it can easily lose its power.

Here are some watch-outs:

The BPP is designed to drive all actions for the brand — not only marketing but also product, innovation, process, etc. For some organizations, brand is still seen as a separate ‘marketing’ function – or even as a communications construct – but the BPP hasn’t just been designed to drive communications! It has been designed to be inherently internally as well as externally focused. It describes the mission of the brand in the organization and world. Because of this it doesn’t explicitly describe the consumer or target market opportunity, the problem we are solving for or how the brand fits into their lives. It’s not communications planning.

The BPP is ‘purposefully’ non-prescriptive. The role of the framework is to help the people who work on the brand and for the organization to understand what the goal is, not be prescriptive about how to get there. It’s designed to create an intuitive and entrepreneurial mindset. But in many large organizations where marketers rotate jobs every year or where there is misalignment between structure and culture (for example) the lack of specificity can mean that the BPP is misunderstood, diluted or in some cases ignored altogether.

Conclusion

The BPP was been developed to give brands and organizations the focus, inspiration and flexibility to create more ideas and turn branding into actions, not just communications. In fact, many brands are making the transition from communications-first to actions-first thinking. Do what you say and say what you mean. Simple as that really.

Phil White: Co-Founder & Chief Strategy Officer @ Grounded.

Back to all