Guest post by Tim Elliott

I was recently asked to speak at a meeting for B2B marketers on whether B2B brands should follow suit with the raft of consumer brands that have jumped on the ‘brand purpose’ bandwagon in recent times and have a ‘purpose’.

An interesting question, right?

I want to share my ideas on that very topic in this post. Let’s start by defining ‘purpose’:

For me, having a purpose means you don’t just grow for growth’s sake? Purpose answers the question ‘What do you want to do with all that growth?’ What’s the end game? What’s the problem you solve? What’s the change you are trying to make? What’s your cause or belief?

Is purpose mandatory for any brand B2B or otherwise? Probably not.

But what I am sure of is that when you have a brand purpose and communicate it clearly, it does give you another level of resonance with the people you want to serve and the people inside your organisation who help you deliver that service.

A note of caution…

I am not so sure that you can ‘decide’ to have or retrofit a purpose if you don’t have one there already. I have been in marketing meetings where the CEO proclaims for marketing to ‘develop a brand purpose’ and present it back – that is not the one!

That sort of activity leads to the type of issues you see when comparing the recent Gillette ad on ‘toxic masculinity’ to Nike’s – see below.

Boy from Gillette advert
Nike advert

I won’t go into detail about these two ads, or indeed the companies, as there are many articles on the topic (check out Mark Ritson on Marketing Week). But I will highlight the difference.

Nike has always stood for something, with their now famous ‘Just Do It’ ethos. When they stand or support a cause, they generate more resonance with their audience.

However, for Gillette, in this case, it did not go so well, and they have been accused of putting profit before purpose – it was a ‘feel bad ad’. It’s not a terrible idea, just one that was poorly executed.

There is a solution to finding your purpose…

This is where my journey with purpose-driven, human-centred marketing began, with Simon Sinek’s famous TedTalk – Start With Why. 

The idea of starting with why, having a purpose, a cause or belief to champion and using the golden circles to help find it, is something I have worked on with many clients, from construction companies to pub companies, from law firms to FMCG brands.

The Golden Circle
Credit: Simon Sinek

This is the very first thing I start with when designing a marketing strategy. For me, and for the people who choose to work with me, it all starts with purpose. See the 5 Ps below.

The 5 Ps:

  1. Purpose – Why does your business exist? What problem do you solve? What change do you want to make? Combined with short, medium and long-term business goals because we need to make money to enable us to fulfil our purpose
  2. People – Who do you need to reach to fulfil your purpose? Be as specific as you can
  3. Proposition – Develop a customer value proposition (see previous blog post) that resonates with the people you need to reach
  4. Position – The marketing bit, getting the right message to the right people at the right time or position in their customer journey
  5. Planning – Have a plan of who does what and when

It all starts with purpose.

The 5 Ps

To conclude …

Brand purpose is powerful but it’s not for everyone, internally or externally, and that’s okay because being powered by a purpose gives a brand and the people connected to it not just somewhere to buy from, but something to belong too.

I am always happy to have a good conversation and answer any questions you have about this topic, or marketing in general, so the best place to start that is @TimElliottUK on Twitter or follow me on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/timelliottuk