May 23, 2017

Mark Di Somma: 5 Big Questions to Determine Your Brand’s Purpose


It’s an issue every entrepreneur faces at one point or another.

Here’s the problem. You’re trying desperately to figure out how to relate to your audience in a way that gets them to choose your company over your competition. You read tons of articles and books on branding but there’s something missing.

Because of this, your efforts at selling fall flat. You know you have a great idea and great products, but you can’t seem to get your business to connect with your desired audience.

Why?

Because being effective at selling is nearly impossible without a remarkable brand. Yes, your offerings might be insanely awesome, but if you can’t communicate the true value of your brand, you won’t succeed.

One day, you figure it out. You realize that in order to make your brand more attractive, you need to have a purpose. Something that your company strives for beyond selling more products or services.

You need something that will make your brand remarkable.

If you want to be remarkable, you have to show your audience that your company is more than just a profit-seeking machine. It requires soul searching and a concerted effort to figure out what your brand’s values are.

Fortunately, there is a solution. I spoke with branding guru Mark Di Somma about the importance of building a brand with a purpose. He gave 5 questions that every entrepreneur must ask themselves in order to discover what their brand’s purpose is.

Who Is Mark Di Somma?

Mark Di Somma is a senior brand strategist at The Blake Project, which is a brand consultancy that helps organizations build remarkable brands that stand out from their competition. His background includes advertising, direct marketing, and brand strategy.

Di Somma has over 20 years of experience helping organizations formulate creative solutions for their brands. He also contributes regularly to the Branding Strategy Insider blog.

What Is Brand Purpose?

A great example of brand purpose is Dove. Dove is a company that manufactures soap products. It is now one of the top soap brands in the world.

However, Dove isn’t just about selling soap. Sure, that’s how they make their money, but their purpose is much higher than that. Dove’s mission is to increase the self-esteem of women. They desire to redefine the definition of beauty so that women of all ages can feel better about themselves.

Their “Campaign For Beauty” was created in order to combat self-esteem issues in women that result from a poor self image. Through this campaign, Dove seeks to change the lives of women all over the world.

The reason Dove has been so successful is because they have a distinct purpose that resonates with its audience. See the difference? As an entrepreneur, this is what you will need to do with your company if you want connect with your audience.

When asked why an entrepreneur should focus on the purpose of their brand, he said:

“Purpose lifts an entrepreneur out of just thinking about themselves and their ideas. It gives them a wider context which inspires more lateral thinking. It motivates others to join in the pursuit of that purpose.”

It’s clear that there are several important ways that a purposeful brand can greatly benefit your entrepreneurial efforts. It gives yourself and your employees something to believe in. More importantly, it gives your customers something to believe in. In your company, they now have a cause that they can support.

Why Is Purpose Critical For Branding?

Usually, when one thinks of a company’s brand, they focus on the products or services that the company offers. It’s easy to make the mistake of associating a company’s brand with its unique selling proposition.

However, in this day and age, brands need something more in order to stand out. Why? Because there will always be companies that claim they can do it better, faster, and cheaper. It’s not enough to tell the same old hackneyed stories about why your product or service is better than the competition.

Your brand needs (and deserves) something more. It needs a purpose.

Purpose is the “why” behind your brand. It’s the real reason your company exists. A brand purpose defines the “soul” of the organization. It’s what a particular organization stands for. If you want to stand out, your brand has to stand for something beyond its products and services.

The 5 Questions

Finding your brand’s purpose isn’t easy. As I stated before, it requires a little bit a soul searching and reflection. You must discover what your true values are.

When discussing the ways in which a business owner can discover their brand’s purpose, Di Somma suggested that you ask yourself these questions:

  • When you started your business, what did you see that you wanted to change?
  • How can the pursuit of that change make a bigger difference?
  • What change do others want to see in the world? How does your brand fit in?
  • How can you articulate a purpose that will inspire your audience to trust and support your brand?
  • How will your purpose motivate those that you work with?

Let’s take a look.

What Change Do You Want To See?

What is the problem that you want your business to solve? How is your business uniquely equipped to combat this issue?

For Dove, the problem is low self-esteem in women. Since they’re a company that manufactures skin care, hair care, and other beauty products, it makes sense that they would work to make women feel better about the way they look.

How Can Your Company Make A Difference?

When you know what problem you’d like to solve, you have to figure out what your company is going to do about it. How do you plan to make things better? After all, it doesn’t make sense to complain about a problem if you don’t intend to do anything about it, right?

Look at Cheerios. Their purpose? They want kids to read more. That’s it. How do they make a difference? By partnering with the “Little Free Library Project“. This organization places small boxes full of books in certain areas. People are encouraged to take a book out of the box and donate old books by placing them in the box.

This is just one of the ways that Cheerios shows their commitment to getting children to read more. On their site, they have plenty of content and material that supports this cause.

What Change Do People Want To See?

Having a successful brand purpose means being able to understand what changes your audience wants to see. What issues does your audience see as important in the world? By figuring this out, you will be able to adopt a purpose that people already believe in.

That’s what Green Giant is doing. Green Giant has chosen to use their brand to fight bullying. Through their “Nominate A Giant” initiative, they encouraged over 12,000 people to contribute stories that highlighted people who stood up to bullying in October of last year.

Everyone knows that bullying has become a major issue in our country. By focusing on what people are concerned about, Green Giant has been able to make a difference.

How To Communicate Your Brand’s Purpose?

After you figure out what your brand’s purpose is, you need to figure out an effective way to communicate this purpose. This requires an effective marketing strategy. One way to do this is to follow Panera Bread’s example of using content to explain what you stand for, and why.

On its website, Panera Bread has a whole section dedicated to discussing what food should be. They promote the consumption of healthy foods in order to help their customers eat better.

How Your Purpose Motivates Your Team

While it’s very important to have a purpose that attracts an audience, you also need to consider those you will be working with. Part of having a purposeful brand is having employees that buy into the vision as much as you do. By having employees that truly buy into your brand’s ultimate purpose, you will have evangelists that delight in sharing your brand’s values with others.

That’s what Zappos does. Tony Hsieh, founder and CEO of Zappos, sees happiness as the company’s ultimate purpose. As a student of happiness, he has built a culture that has happiness as its foundation.

Because of this, his employees are willing to go to the extreme to make their customers as happy as possible. In one case, a Zappos call center representative broke records by speaking with a customer for over 10 hours!

Hsieh’s obsession with happiness has helped his organization do more for its customers than just sell them products. He has been able to create a culture designed to make customers happier from having interacted with them.

Conclusion

Entrepreneurship isn’t easy. Anyone who has started a business knows how challenging it can be. Part of being a successful entrepreneur means having a purpose that guides you.

Like people, companies need purpose. It’s critical. A brand purpose is an important part of determining your company’s identity. It’s one of the most crucial components in creating a self-actualized brand.

Also brand purpose is more than just something that attracts an audience. It’s more than something that will motivate your employees.

It’s what will guide and motivate you.

A purpose keeps you grounded and focused on what’s really important. It helps you make the right decisions for your company. Di Somma said this:

“It sets clear parameters for what the business can do and not do if that purpose is to be achieved.”

If you want to be a wildly successful entrepreneur, you need to stand for something. That’s what a brand purpose is all about. Do yourself a favor, and discover your brand’s purpose.

Image: Mark Di Somma/Facebook

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Jeff Charles


Jeff Charles Jeff Charles is the founder of Artisan Owl Media, an Austin-based content marketing agency that specializes in helping professional service firms increase their influence and earn more clients.

7 Reactions

  1. At the end of the exercise every company should have a unique position and value proposition that they can then market to their potential customers. If your answers match another company exactly, you probably need to change.

    • Jeff Charles

      Robert,

      You are spot on. After figuring out what your value proposition and purpose are, you need to take time to think about whether or not another brand already espouses your chosen purpose. That was a great insight! Thanks for the comment.

  2. What a fantastic article!! Thank you for sharing your insight – I’m going to share this on Twitter. 🙂

  3. Martin Lindeskog

    The big question is how to determine your own personal purpose as the founder / owner of a company. Why did you start the company in the first place? Are you acting on the trader principle, when you you are doing business? Do you understand the foundation for a free market, in order to do business?

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