What's the point of purpose?
Updated: Sep 17, 2019
Vision and goals enable business leaders to drive their business in one consistent direction. They give a clear destination to steer towards and enable teams to focus their work. But what about purpose? Do we really need that too and why is it a critical factor in supporting business growth?
Imagine starting off on a car journey. You know where you’re going, but you don’t know why. If you were to face obstacles – such as two junctions closed on the motorway – how determined would you be to reach your destination? Would you be tempted to give up or perhaps head to somewhere else entirely?
Purpose is the ‘why’ to the ‘where’ you are going.
Harvard Business Review (HBR) shows the results of an eight-year study focussing on high growth businesses. The research team interviewed C-suite executives across the globe to investigate drivers for growth. They found the most powerful was one they hadn’t considered – purpose.
Companies who understand the ‘why’ of what they’re doing generate sustained profitable growth. They’re more likely to outperform their competitors and foster long-term relationships with their customers. Why?
1. Purpose-led companies redefine themselves to stay relevant.
They think holistically about their playing field and make brave choices to respond to market and customer needs. HBR gives the example of Neste, an oil-refining company who realised that they could no longer survive in their traditional playing field. Instead, over seven years they redefined themselves completely to become the world’s largest producer of renewable fuels. Their renewable energy profits soon surpassed what they had made as an oil-products business.
2. Purpose-led companies reshape their value proposition.
They think beyond selling the services they have and look at more holistic ways to meet their customers’ needs. They respond to trends, build trust with their customers and focus on their pain points. HBR shows Mars Petcare’s evolution from being a pet food brand to one whose purpose is “to make a better world for pets”. They started to acquire veterinary and other pet wellbeing services, which has helped Mars Petcare to become Mars Inc’s largest and fastest-growing business division.
Purpose is not a nice to have. It’s not some words written down on an internal memo. It is a critical component for growth.
To be effective, purpose has to be at the core of a business’ strategy. It must be the compass that guides everything within the business. It is not just an add-on to make feel people feel a bit better about the work they do or the company they buy from.
With purpose at the heart of a business, it is integral to its brand and culture. It's what shapes who a company is and aligns employees and customers with one another.
Just like a driver who understands why their journey matters, purpose motivates employees. It gives them a more meaningful reason to work and helps to draw our their best contribution. It unifies teams, enabling smoother transitions in times of change. It creates a culture that helps to win and keep the most talented people. It drives innovation that’s rewarded by customer loyalty.
At Brand Anthem, we work with businesses to clarify their purpose, and communicate it through their brand and culture. When employees understand and believe in your purpose, they become your Brand Anthem.
Contact us to discuss how we can work with you today.
Read the full Harvard Business Review article here.