What's the purpose of purpose?

I have had people say kind things about our pursuit of purpose. And I appreciate it. But I worry that many want to put it in a box. They want it to be a nice and noble thing. I do, too. But that's just the half of it.

Purpose has another purpose

Purpose is a good and noble thing. But it is also a business strategy. It can be deployed to do everything from boost new client acquisition to increase employee engagement.

Now, there is a fine line here. If you read this and say, "We need to use this purpose thing." Well, we have a problem. Purpose is not a gimmick. Treating it as such is manipulative and exploitative. If that admonishment is not enough, then know this. If you use it in this way, it will backfire - leaving you with reputation damage that will have you wishing that you never heard of this concept of brand purpose. The world is too connected today. People can out your insincerity with lightning speed. And then share your attempted manipulations with the world. Believe me, nothing spreads faster than the hint that some corporation is trying to game our emotions for their gain.

Here is the interesting dichotomy. This connectivity and transparency that can strike a fatal blow to our brand reputation are the very same means that can rocket the positive perception of our brand into the stratosphere.

If you are really serving a higher purpose (a Big Audacious Meaning), people will reward you for it. Yes, I'm talking about heightened brand perception. But I'm also talking about monetary rewards. Studies show that consumers reward brands that are driven by purpose. And we haven't even addressed all the magic it creates for employee retention and recruiting. Which brings us back to that crucial point. Purpose is a business strategy. When delivered honestly and with transparency, it can transform a business.

If you take anything away from all this, let it be this. Purpose is easily thought of as doing good. But what often gets lost is that it's just as much about doing well.