How brand marketing today is becoming more purpose-driven

Having identified a purpose to stand for, the brand needs to have high level of ‘commitment’ to delivering on that purpose, writes Sunil Kumaran, Country Head - Product, Marketing and Thwink BIG, Big FM. 

Cause-marketing has been one of the much loved arrows in the quiver carried by Marketers for many years. Consumers too, took pride in engaging with brands that displayed the red ribbons, the protecting hands or the red parentheses on their advertising. While this is still a ‘good thing to do’ it works for a brand only in a limited way. The Millennials and Consumers in general today are more likely to differentiate what a brand genuinely owns up as a ‘purpose’ versus the use of ‘cause marketing’ as a ploy. It is important now to differentiate between supporting a ‘cause’ to standing for a ‘purpose’. 

Let me attempt to decipher the “Why” and “How” behind purpose marketing. 

To start with let us go back to the basics of brand building. Why do consumers connect and engage with a brand? Is it for the product features and attributes? Yes, but that is taking a very limited view of what consumers value. At the core of a ‘successful’ brand is a purpose that appeals to the consumer. It is what the brand stands for. It is a value that transcends product, attributes and features. It is important to play a meaningful role in the life of the consumer and this is what standing for a purpose tends to achieve. 

Marketers are also acutely aware of the need to differentiate their brand.  Especially in this age of communication and information overload the ability to differentiate a brand has narrowed drastically. This is where the need to align the brand to something more than ‘making profits’ takes credence. And I think many marketers are acknowledging this approach to build a brand and creating differentiation as a better strategy. This allows them to connect with their consumers in a unique way and places the brand on a different dimension. 

Strategy winning over tactics 

Building a purpose driven brand requires authenticity at its core. The ‘purpose’ that a brand espouses needs to be well thought through. The key is to avoid the trap of looking at the environment and spotting ‘opportunities’ to associate your brand with. That would as well be ‘cause marketing’. The purpose for the brand should stem from the core values of the brand and a deep understanding of the target audiences and what matters to them. Where the two overlaps lies the ‘purpose’ that a brand can own up.

Take Disney as an example. Their purpose to bring a smile on everyone face is lived by the brand in every dimension - Product, services, marketing. At the same time it is a meaningful and relevant value for the consumer.

Having identified a purpose to stand for, the brand needs to have high level of ‘commitment’ to delivering on that purpose. This has to be built into the heart of the business model. It requires a long term blue print for the brand to embark on and create the expected image it intends to build. The other dimension of this strategy is ‘consistency’. It cannot be a one-off tactic but a sustained endeavour to bring about meaningful change.

While we all seek love from our consumers and we know that ‘love will see us through’, this is not love at first site but the one earned over time with authenticity, commitment and consistency! 


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