The 4 Principles of Purpose Branding

01 May 2015|Added Value

Up until recently, consumer culture was relatively lenient with selfish brands. But values and culture are shifting. Caring is cool.  ‘We’ is the new ‘me’ and brands that aren’t standing up for something are slipping. So what are the keys to true purpose branding?


A brand’s purpose must be rooted in its values, its core competencies and talents.  So when it speaks and acts, there is little dissonance between what it stands for and what it sells.

Our pick: Warby Parker: A visionary business model

BLOG LEAD4Mission-based Warby Parker has gotten plenty of accolades for giving away glasses. But that is not in fact what they do. Their business model is more ambitious, more subtle and more coherent with their brand. The founders state boldly that everyone has the right to see and to look great in glasses.  So the brand offers eyeglasses for hipsters at accessible prices, positioning them as the cultured choice for the cultured mind.

For each product sold, Warby matches the funds to teach the same skill set to local entrepreneurs, funding their purchase of glasses to suit local styles. They thereby empower the seller to succeed by making his purchaser look and feel great. “Because everyone wants to feel incredible.”  The result? No distinction is made between what the brand stands for and what it sells; no chasm separates the haves from the have not’s. All who come into contact with the brand experience the same ideal and are equally recognized and respected for their own tastes, minds and choices.



Brands with purpose detect and decode the societal topics that resonate with their target and audience. They serve as amplifiers and agitators.

Our pick: Jeep Operation Safe Return – Bringing heroes home

BLOG LEAD3Jeep, the brand that accompanied American’s through WWII, has established its brand purpose at the very heart of the military and heroic narrative surrounding patriots returning home.

“In 1941, we were there to take our troops into battle. Today we are here to support them as they come home.”

The S.A.F.E. Return fund provides both financial and in-kind aid as well as hands-on support for returning troops through an integrated partnership with the USO.

The initiative is broader than just safe return, with the brand supporting all displays of heroism as pertains to the war, including The Hero At Home Award and The Hero Summit in partnership with The Daily Beast. Parent company Chrysler Group also recruits heavily amongst military veterans. At a time when Veterans suffer the physical and psychological consequences of on-going wars on multiple fronts, Jeep lends its voice to their plight and helps Americans to rally to their cause.



Brands with purpose have clear character and a true voice that can speak unabashedly and authenticity to the issues.

Our pick: Brewdog ‘Not for gays’ beer – Activists in alcohol

BLOG LEADThis beer brand, rooted in rebellion and self-expression, springboarded off cultural interest and investment in equal rights for the Gay community and launched a ‘not for gays’ beer to mark the Winter Olympics 2014 in protest of  Vladimir Putin’s anti-gay laws, with their typically brazen, anarchic and tongue-in-cheek character.  They even named the beer after the man himself and sent a crate to the Kremlin, with photography depicting him (an actor) sitting topless astride an ebony steed. As a brand that believes in freedom of expression and freedom of speech, Brewdog donated 50% of the profits from this beer to charitable organizations that support like-minded individuals wishing to express themselves freely without prejudice. Check it out here.



Brands with purpose go beyond words. They measure their success in real and positive effects on society.

Our pick: CVS No Tobacco – Stubbing out for good

BLOG LEAD2When it comes to business, it’s hard to put your money where your mouth is. The bottom line is, after all, the bottom line. But CVS is a brand that’s done just that. By stopping sales of cigarettes and all tobacco products at its more than 7,600 stores nationwide (trading ceased on October 1, 2014), the brand purposefully removed a revenue driver in the service of a positive effect on society (‘Helping people on their path to better health’). What’s interesting is that in doing so they’ve arguably strengthened their association to health and fired up their employees to feel good about their role as ‘health providers’. As a pharmacy competing against some big names in the US market, we’d say they are way ahead of the game. Read more here.


We have a clear point of view on how to get Purpose Branding right and would love to discuss how to help you to do so. Please contact

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