By Guy Rigby, Head Of Entrepreneurs At Smith & Williamson

In the modern world of consumerism and enterprise, we are fast developing an immunity to brands. Information overload and incessant marketing have desensitised people to brands and the messages they churn out. Today’s business must therefore be smart when creating its brand identity and culture. Successful brands must be associated with memorable and evocative feelings, with a cause, a purpose and a strong personality.

Profiting With Purpose

Brands are about capturing hearts and minds. If you want your brand to be noticed, you’ll need a cause and a purpose that people, including your staff, will embrace and buy into.

Both internal corporate culture and external brand identity begin with purpose; why are you in business? What do you stand for? What is your function and relevance in society? It is this all-encompassing purpose that defines a business, dictating its strategy and results.

So everything begins with purpose. Purpose defines the vision and values of your business- the inherent promise that you make to your staff, customers, suppliers and partners. It also defines the mission and the strategy, guiding your actions and behaviours. Ultimately, these combine to create your culture and brand identity.

While businesses need to make profits, that’s not their only purpose. Yet businesses with a strong purpose often end up making the biggest profits:

- Apple’s purpose is to innovate, to create a positive user experience and design aesthetically pleasing products.

- Google’s purpose is to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

- Gap’s purpose is to make it easy for people to express their personal style throughout their lifetime.

- Skype’s purpose is to revolutionise telecoms by providing an alternative via low cost and free calls over the Internet.

- Smith & Williamson’s purpose is to help people create, manage and preserve their wealth.

- The Body Shop’s purpose is to support community trade, defend human and animal rights and protect the planet. The company even has its human rights purpose written into its constitution.

- Avon’s purpose is to “empower women one woman at a time to learn how to earn.”

Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou created a budget brand that stands for making customers’ lives easier and saving them money. His easyGroup brand values are visible and widely appealing, enabling him to expand his brand into a group of complementary businesses (easyCar, easyMusic, easyMoney, easyInternetCafe, easyHotel… ). All of these share the same strong identity as his first business (easyJet).

In easyJet I had two assets, the airline and the brand,” explains Stelios. “It was the fact that the name meant something to people, so I separated the brand from the airline.”

The brand name — ‘easy’ — makes it clear that its purpose is to make people’s lives easier. Its bright orange logo is bold and suggests affordability, whilst its strapline, “more value for less” summarises its purpose. Every individual part of its brand identity is tied closely to its purpose.

Another good example of this is Saga, whose messaging clearly defines its strengths and purpose: “Saga Zone is the biggest online social network for people over 50.” As branding is essentially about enabling people to make a connection with what you do, a clear message that summarises your purpose will forge a stronger connection with your brand.

Saga’s strength lies in focusing on a specific demographic, understanding the needs of the target audience and offering it reliable, value-for-money services.

Saga has carved out a trusted, familiar and purposeful brand across a number of different product offerings. Having started out by offering holidays, the Saga brand now offers cruises on its own ships, insurance and financial products, along with a magazine and radio station.

Nike’s purpose is to encourage sporting activity. Its personality is energetic and driven. This is reflected in its name (Nike was the winged goddess of victory in ancient Greece), its logo — the infamous swoosh (positive, affirming and victorious), and its strapline (“Just Do It” — direct, encouraging, active).

Nike’s strengths, the things it does really well, are product design and marketing. The brand actually transcends its products. In general, people wear Nike running shoes to look cool and feel motivated, rather than to improve their performance. They are also buying into a brand which invites them to join a community of athletes and a culture that spreads the gospel of sport.

Is your business profiting with purpose? For further information on this or similar business challenges read Guy Rigby’s new book, From Vision to Exit, The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Building and Selling a Business, available from Amazon and all good book shops now. Alternatively, contact Guy Rigby by email at guy.rigby@smith.williamson.co.uk, or by calling 020 7131 8213.

Disclaimer: By necessity this briefing can only provide a short overview and it is essential to seek professional advice before applying the contents of this article. No responsibility can be taken for any loss arising from action taken or refrained from on the basis of this publication. Article correct at time of writing.

Smith & Williamson Limited, Regulated by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales for a range of investment business activities. A member of Nexia International.

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