7 Tips for Communicating Brand Purpose

By Morgan Strawn

In a previous installment of Industry Insights, I shared some tips for defining a company's brand purpose that guests on the Beyond Profit podcast have offered. While that process can be mysterious and daunting, so too can be the process of conveying to the wider world one's purpose and one's efforts toward its fulfillment.

Fortunately, Beyond Profit has insights to impart on this matter as well, and seven tips offered by guests of the podcast follow below.

Be genuine: "You have to be authentic. You cannot be opportunistic, because people are not idiots. They see through you; they see through the facade. So a brand has to find its authentic expression."
Raja Rajamannar, CMO at Mastercard

Be demonstrative, not declarative: "Purpose should be experienced or overheard, not communicated."
Nicolas Chidiac, brand and customer experience strategy lead at Razorfish North America

Contextualize the need being addressed through your brand purpose: "Talk about the severity and the consequences of the need, and then speak about how eventually a group of partners came together to address that need. And then say, by the way, we were one of them. That approach — the word 'humility' the word 'authenticity' come to mind — that approach tends to work well in consumer perception."
Dan Grimm, distinguished executive in residence at The Rutgers Institute for Corporate Social Innovation

Foreground collaborations and partnerships: "Where I see brands perhaps not being able to communicate what they wish to, it's often because they haven't thought enough about the charity partners that they want to bring on board. NGOs are such an important part of this mix. If a brand wants to talk about an issue, finding an NGO with authority and credibility and expertise is the way that the brand is going to connect in a really authentic way. That not only helps the brand communicate what it wants to and talk in regard to the issue in the way that's appropriate, but it also helps it have impact behind its words. A brand saying it cares about something higher? Frankly, no one really cares. A brand saying they've done something, or, even better, a brand saying they've empowered their consumers to do something — that's where you start to get the magic."
Amy Williams, co-founder of and CEO at Good-Loop

Frame brand purpose as an expression of commitments forged through personal experience: "If I'm a CEO, I need to find a personal connection into the mission because as a CEO, one of my jobs is to do storytelling. Over and over and over again, I need to repeat the story of the purpose as well as the strategy. ...If it's not genuine and related to your own personal story, suffering, emotion, then it's just corporate B.S."
Minter Dial, author of You Lead: How Being Yourself Makes You a Better Leader

Embrace the power of narrative: "There's an element of purpose that you might be able to talk about with the stats and the numbers, but a whole bunch of [what you want to convey about] purpose is really around the stories. ... That narrative is just so powerful."
Daryl Brewster, CEO at Chief Executives for Corporate Purpose (CECP)

Involve those whom you assist in telling those narratives: "One of our greatest assets, I believe, is our storytelling abilities: telling the stories of those who are here at St Jude's — our patients, our families, and those we help around the world, and letting them tell that in their own voices and then helping people see the impact that they're making when they give."
Emily Callahan, CMO at ALSAC

The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

Morgan Strawn is a senior manager of editorial and content development at ANA.