Brand Purpose

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

10 December 2018

Brand purpose is not what many think it is

So, the marketing term of the year is Brand Purpose, as chosen by the Association of National Advertisers. And what do they use to demonstrate such a term for 2018?

Proctor & Gamble’s “Love Over Bias.”

“When you think about it, the term brand purpose is related to brand promise, which says what your brand fulfills that’s a reflection of the target audience. Nike’s brand promise is that it’s for people who just do it without all the nonsense that gets in our way.”

The ad sports a nice sentiment, one we could use in spades today. But does it really fulfill a brand purpose? ANA is establishing a center for brand purpose (yes, really) that fuels “business growth by helping marketers create purpose-driven, strategic programs and solutions for their products and services.”

Yes, that’s what brand purpose should accomplish. But it seems the term is being used as a way to congratulate a brand for its humane efforts. Rather than achieving business growth.

You could make the argument that P&G’s spot could mean its products are for moms. “Proud sponsor of Moms” does say who P&G is for, no matter what brand you consider.

But I sense the term is still being misunderstood. It feels like it’s being used as what social purpose the brand serves. Rather than what can make a brand preferred.

When you think about it, the term brand purpose is related to brand promise, which says what your brand fulfills that’s a reflection of the target audience. Nike’s brand promise is that it’s for people who just do it without all the nonsense that gets in our way. Apple is for those who think different(ly).

Brand purpose creates preference

Proud sponsor of moms” is a little generic. Now, that would work if the P&G products fulfill that notion. And is consistent in that messaging. Brand purpose

The problem is that P&G markets its brands separately, often with divergent needs. ANA choosing this campaign, above all others, still tells me most don’t understand what brand is. Most think it’s about the brand itself. It’s not. It’s about who target audiences believe they are when they use the brand.

For example, P&G’s Pampers was the first mover into the disposable diaper market. It won for years by promoting product benefits. To many, including P&G, that’s brand. But when Kimberly Clark launched Huggies, Pampers lost market share because Huggies identified itself by the customer. (Just think about that name. It’s for mothers who hug and kiss.)

Brand purpose should be understood as that. Be careful when developing your brand. It’s more than just what makes the brand look good.

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