Can we measure the purpose of a brand?
A brand’s success in our society is always measured in numerical terms. Numbers are the language of power. All that is quantifiable is reliable. We create brands to have a turnover of this much, grow this much, reach this many countries, employ this many people, and produce more and more (to infinity and beyond). And now we can know precisely how many clients we have, where they live, what they want, how they want to be contacted, what makes them faithful to us, how much we have to spend and on which channels… If it can’t be measured, it can’t be managed, they say. And now everything is measurable. We measure to grow indefinitely. Grow and grow no matter what, with no regards to the health and happiness of people, their welfare, biodiversity, the Amazon rainforests, the climate…
But perhaps success can be reached from a different place, where being quantifiable is not a value in itself. Perhaps success can be measured with reference to the number of people that have been helped or inspired, by the number of positive experiences that one has contributed to, or by the amount of actions that have somehow improved our environment.
If, in the past, a brand became powerful by doing things faster, better, or cheaper, and by working to give an answer to an external situation, now the important quality is born out of its heart – its purpose and empathy. A brand’s purpose, by its very nature, is aspirational and is never fulfilled in its entirety, but gives sense and direction to its actions. And there is a true hunger for purpose in our lives, amongst other things, because people are waking up from the alienation that came with aggressive consumerism, we are perplexed by the profound nature of the economic crisis, and we are becoming more and more aware of the important social challenges we are facing. At the same time, we are absorbing more and more information that pushes us away from the institutions, including the brands, that surround us.
There are many well-known brands that claim to be associated with emotional values and then deny it in their everyday behaviour. How can we believe a brand that defends a certain emotion if our experience with it proves the opposite? It is not easy to live one’s brand in order to fulfil a purpose that our target audiences (who are becoming increasingly cynical) will believe and prove it in all we say, do, or show. It is not about seducing with our discourse by means of expensive advertising campaigns and sophisticated marketing actions. It is about something much more simple and complex at the same time: believing one’s discourse, committing to it and acting accordingly.
The challenge when it comes to managing this sort of success consists of first distilling the central meanings of our business strategy and give our brand a unique personality and set of values. This conceptual synthesis will be the lighthouse of a soulful strategy and of our positioning within the heart of our potential clients. Our verbal, digital, and visual identities, together with our everyday behaviour, will make our discourse come alive. But it will only be believable if we do it in a coherent and long-lasting fashion.
Measuring a purpose is complicated because each one is different, but perhaps the increasing sophistication of Big Data will soon make it possible. But maybe we should be asking ourselves whether measuring its management is really that important.