Finding Your Brand Purpose & Why it Matters (with Examples)



May 01, 2024

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May 01, 2024

Read Time

min read



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Why having a brand purpose matters Amazon - a great example of a brand purpose in action So what is a brand purpose? More examples of brands with a strong purpose Finding your purpose

What’s your brand’s purpose? You’d be surprised how many companies I speak to don’t have an answer to this question.

They tell me about their products or services and how these are better than the competition. They may share their business growth plans. But this doesn’t answer the question.

That’s because a brand’s purpose is an all-together more sophisticated thing to get your head around. It’s the reason an organisation does what it does…other than to simply make money. It’s where the heart of the business lies.

Why having a brand purpose matters

Does it matter what this purpose is – or whether you have one? Yes. Not least because whether you’re a b2c or b2b brand, consumers increasingly buy based on whether a brand’s purpose fits with us – by that I mean our values, identity or our way of living/working.

Our Brand Love research has shown we’re much more likely to buy, three times more likely to recommend and twice as likely to stay loyal to brands whose purpose chimes with us.

And all of this has implications for the bottom line. For instance, when it comes to loyalty, in a typical online business, only eight percent of customers may be repeat buyers, but they account for a disproportionate 40% of turnover.

While on the recommendation front, Nielsen reports that people are 90% more likely to trust and buy from a brand recommended by a friend. Similarly, according to Harvard Business Review, 84% of buying decision-makers say the B2B buying process starts with a referral.

So, getting your brand purpose right is worth it as it drives buying, recommendations, loyalty – revenue!

But more than this. A clearly defined brand purpose also helps the business make decisions. It helps it hire the right people, invest in the right areas, decide its pricing strategy, choose the right partners, identify the right strategy – and focus on it.

people running in the desert
  • people running in the desert

Amazon - a great example of a brand purpose in action

One company where you can really see the brand’s purpose driving business decisions and revenue is Amazon.

Amazon’s brand purpose is to be Earth’s most customer-centric company.

For Amazon this has meant making sure the brand and business really fits with the lifestyle and needs of its customers. For instance, in the modern, home shopping era, where product selection, having something in stock, at a good price and with next day delivery really matters, Amazon is king. It has become an essential adjunct to people’s lives. Indeed, it has reshaped our expectations of how all other e-commerce brands need to behave.

However, Amazon has spent years and invested heavily getting to this position. For instance, in its early days it might have seemed logical for Amazon to limit its product range to those high demand, big ticket items which generate the most profit. But Amazon recognised that people don’t buy these items every day. And it wanted to be such a big part of our daily lives that we would always turn to it. So, it stocked the low profit everyday things and spent heavily, ironing out the irritations which can come with online shopping.

graph of amazon's net income 1998-2021
  • graph of amazon's net income 1998-2021

This commitment cost the company. It’s hard for us to remember it now but Amazon consistently lost money for its first several years as a public company. It must have been so tempting during those early boardroom discussions – when facing such losses – to question the strategy. But the company’s purpose was clear. So, the ‘costly’ breadth of product range offered by the company and the relentless investment in technology to improve service continued. Sure, it’s easy for us with hindsight to say “of course that’s what it had to do” but how many of us would have stuck to this purpose with such resolve?

Clearly the business has come a long way since then and has diversified into other areas – but its customer centric view still holds. Its latest net income figure of $30.4 billion suggests this determination and investment to become the online consumer’s life partner has paid off.

And – even as the business has changed – so the purpose has remained, guided and been underpinned by four principles:

  1. Customer obsession rather than competitor focus
  2. Passion for invention
  3. Commitment to operational excellence
  4. Long-term thinking

As a result, according to Statista, Amazon accounts for 37.6% of e-commerce sales, the highest market share of all e-commerce companies. To put this in perspective, other top contenders include Walmart with 6.4%, Apple with 3.6% and eBay with 3% of sales.

So what is a brand purpose?

Amazon’s example is a big one – and we can’t replicate its financials. But we can mirror its focus, determination and commitment.

So how do we start? The first step is recognising that a brand purpose is not the same as brands promise. Your promise is what consumers can expect from your products and services. Your purpose is much more than this; it’s your reason for being, the stuff which gives your business its ‘passion’.

Many people might think brand purpose needs to revolve around values and corporate social responsibility (CSR), and some do – but not all.

More examples of brands with a strong purpose

A good example of a CSR-based purpose is Tony’s Chocolonely. The confectionery brand’s purpose is to eradicate exploitation across cocoa supply chains. Making chocolate ‘100% exploitation-free’ is integrated across the whole business and Tony’s works hard to bring along its advocates, employees and partners to join it in this mission.

Dove’s brand purpose is focused on the customer’s identity. It wants to make a positive experience of beauty accessible to every woman. We see this extensively played out in its marketing, but it’s far from simply a marketing idea. It has a very sound financial footing. In research, six out of ten women Dove polled said they would be more likely to make a purchase from a brand that features a greater diversity of women in its media and advertising.

We saw earlier that Amazon’s purpose is focused on supporting the customer’s way or living/working – and to an extent, so is Microsoft’s. Microsoft’s purpose is to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more. This set of words gives clear direction to the company’s new product development which centres around providing products that are designed for productivity, efficiency, and collaboration. But the purpose has also shaped its acquisition strategy – driving it to buy players such as LinkedIn and Skype.

As just these few examples show, brand purpose can drive not just messaging or marketing but partnerships, long-term business and investment strategy, product development, and corporate acquisitions. It’s allowed to inform all these things because successful organisations recognise that if you get your purpose right – so that it truly resonates with the audience – your bottom-line benefits too.

Finding your purpose

Want to identify your brand’s purpose but not sure where to start? We can help. Explore how we could run a brand purpose workshop for you by contacting me on

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