How ideals, passion and purpose can transform your small business.


You’ve probably heard this one before, but it’s worth repeating:

The purpose of your company means more these days than the product or the price. It’s not what you sell, it’s what you stand for.

It’s like adding a new P to the classic 4 Ps of marketing. Product. Price. Promotion. Place. PURPOSE.

If you’re trying to target young consumers and you don’t have a worthwhile brand purpose that’s communicated clearly and consistently, you’re going to have a hard time gaining traction in the marketplace.

Consumers of all ages — but especially Gen Z — want to buy from people who stand up for the things they believe in. They’re looking to do business with like-minded people.

It’s belonging, plain and simple.

If you try to be all things to all people, that means you stand for nothing and appeal to no one.

If you stand for something, that means you have to choose. Who do you want to ignore? What are you going to stand against?

In order to gain a large share of one particular market, you have to give up another.

Apple ignored the corporate world and chose to focus on a different target market: “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels…”

Even the world’s largest marketing organization – Proctor & Gamble — understands that ideals can spell the difference between failure and success for their brands.

Jim Stengel, who was the Global Marketing Officer at P&G, puts it simply:

“Your organization can’t move in the right direction if people don’t understand what you believe in. They all want to know what you stand for and what you’re working toward, and they want to see you expressing that in everything you do.”

“Numbers alone cannot be your northstar,” Stengel said.

A lot of business people admit that they started out with nothing but profits in mind. It’s only after they achieved what they’d call “success” that they stop to think about something a little more meaningful for their brand.

It’s fantastic that so many start-ups are now building philanthropic practices into their business models. As long as they are genuine and relevant.

Having a brand purpose doesn’t mean jumping on the bandwagon and giving 1% of your revenues to environmental non-profits, like Patagonia does.

It means standing for something relevant to you, your customers and your brand.

Patagonia is an outdoor gear company. It makes sense for them to support nonprofits that protect our outdoor spaces.

If you’re a real estate developer the environment as brand purpose doesn’t quite jive. Your cause needs to sync up with the realities of your business. Otherwise, it’s all a big lie.

Also, giving to your favorite charity isn’t the same thing as having a genuine purpose for your brand. It’s nice to have charities that reflect and support your brand purpose, but you CAN have a definitive purpose without having a related charity. It’s okay.

The fact is, a strong sense of purpose is a common element of all great brands.

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