Brand purpose that actually means something

3 min readSep 23, 2021

Which company has the following as their Brand Purpose?

Our vision is to craft the brands and choice of drinks that people love, to refresh them in body & spirit. And done in ways that create a more sustainable business and better shared future that makes a difference in people’s lives, communities and our planet.

a) Pepsi Co
b) Heineken
c) Diageo
d) Coca Cola

The answer is….

(A little bit further down the page, so you weren’t tempted to cheat with a cheeky look).

But the point is, if it’s not abundantly clear and blindingly obvious which brand that purpose belongs to, then surely it means that the wording is far too generic, doesn’t it?

That’s the problem with an all-encompassing Brand Purpose.

For any business, a nebulous statement as to the reason for its very being, is a very poor halfway house.

A vague purpose does not attract woke customers, nor does it differentiate that brand’s offerings from competitors.

Don’t try to please everyone…

The answer to the question at the top is d) Coca Cola — here’s their brand purpose proudly stated on their website.

A brand purpose should amplify the very heart of your brand’s founding principles, otherwise it is going to come across as dishonest and inauthentic.

And the bottom line is that 86% of customers say that authenticity is important to them when deciding what brands to support.

So, enough of the moaning, let’s look at a good example of purpose.

A Brand Purpose that increases authenticity

Maurice Saatchi famously wrote that with ever dwindling attention spans, brands will need to have one-word equity, i.e. owning a single word that represented them.

Examples being:
Apple = innovation
Google = search
Matercard = priceless

There aren’t many of these examples to be honest. But…

What is the one-word equity that springs to mind for the brand, Volvo?

Maybe the word most closely associated with Volvo is safety.

They have been working hard on owning the word safety since the 1940s.

When Volvo says ‘No-one should be seriously injured or killed driving a Volvo car’ — there is nothing vague about that purpose/mission statement.

This is unquestionably and undeniably, a purpose about Volvo that could not be mistaken for any other company: it’s all about safety, it mentions driving…

It even shouts out the company name — how’s that for being the opposite of vague? :)

Brand purpose of Volvo — No-one should be seriously injured or killer driving a Volvo car

So, when Volvo does a campaign on safety, if you are one of the tribe interested in car safety, you will definitely sit up and listen… and most probably believe what they are saying.

A campaign called ‘Lifesaver’ from Volvo, which is about saving lives outside of cars, feels very on-brand and totally authentic.

The soul of the company (or The Why as Simon Sinek has it), that obsessive focus, should be there in every touchpoint, especially in the purpose.

So, take Volvo’s example and get extremely specific with your brand purpose.

Your purpose should be unmistakably attributable to your company only.

Delete all the vague, non-offensive, ‘trying-to-please-everybody-all-of-the-time’ language.

An authentic brand purpose will help to create an emotional connection with your future and present customers.

Or, if you want to indulge in a little more vague corporate word salad, then enjoy Brand Purpose Bingo with Mark Ritson.




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