How to find and build a purpose for your company

“Create the beauty that moves the world”

“A caring, innovative growth company that is reimagining a healthier future for all people, their pets and our planet”

“Using the power of creativity to build better futures for our people, planet, clients and communities”

These purpose statements aren’t just words on a website or annual report, they are a powerful way to differentiate your brand from the competition and establish a unique and strong identity in the market. Having a purpose reinforces that you’re not in this just for the profit, but to build a more long-term legacy of impact.

A clearly articulated purpose can strengthen the connection between the company and its various stakeholders—consumers, employees, industry, government, civil society by positioning the company as a responsible and active member of the community, with a clear path to the future.

We reached out to some of our clients to conduct an informal survey on what was the next big thing on their mind and for many of them, corporate or brand purpose was the answer. This is because, according to them, a purpose-driven company or brand has strong corporate reputation or brand equity, more motivated and productive employees, more loyal customers, shareholders’ support, and partners that act in alignment with their values and vision.

Now, the crucial question to consider is, how do you find and build this purpose? For many multinational organisations, purpose is something that is driven from the global headquarters. Here are some of the first steps to take towards it:

The core reason for existence

The first and fundamental question to answer is, why do you exist. Purpose is the very reason for a company’s existence—not its ‘what’, but its ‘why’. A company is formed to fulfill a need. How does the company satisfy that need? What is the long-term vision? Has that need changed with time? Gather information about your stakeholders, competitors, and industry trends to gain a better understanding of your playing field and your company’s unique position in that. After that, engage with your stakeholders to understand how they see the company now and what it is that they hope to see in the future. All these go into forming the foundation on which the purpose statement is built.

Identify priorities

Once the vision is clear, you need to consider what is important to the company—what are its values, culture, and strategic priorities. There would also be certain mandates you need to follow—ESG, CSR, DEI, and others. How do those align with the company’s reason for existence. If yours is a multinational company, you will also need to consider global mandates and directions.

Arrive at your purpose

Now that you know why your company exists and what your stakeholders need, you see where these priorities overlap. That is where your purpose interventions need to focus. But before getting started with the interventions, there needs to be a powerful statement that captures your intent. Crafting this statement well is critical, because it will become the North Star for all your stakeholders.

To know if your purpose has been articulated well, there are three things to consider:

  • Authenticity: It must be connected to your core business, and you should be able to integrate it into everyday business beyond just a campaign.
  • Decision-making: Purpose must have commitment at the Board level and must act as the touchstone for decision-making.
  • Impact: Purpose must demonstrate tangible impact in the community as well as brand equity. And this must be long-term impact, not short-term band-aids.

Ultimately, building a clear and defined brand purpose can be a powerful way to differentiate your brand and establish a unique identity in the market. It can become the foundation for creating long-term value and profitability through engagement with all stakeholders. And most importantly, it becomes the bedrock on which trust is built. And in today’s business environment, trust is everything.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Deepshikha Dharmaraj
With over 27 years of rich and diverse experience in public relations and integrated communications, Deepshikha Dharmaraj is one of the most respected leaders in the industry in India. As the CEO of BCW India Group, she manages the overall business interests of BCW in India and implements its growth strategy encompassing people, clients and partners. Before this, she was the CEO, Genesis BCW, a role she retains.
An active leader in India’s public relations industry initiatives, Deepshikha is a founding board member of the India chapter of the Global Women in Public Relations (GWPR), a global organisation for senior women in PR and communications. She is a part of the Managing Committee of the Public Affairs Forum of India (PAFI). She also served as President of the Public Relations Consultants Association of India (PRCAI) in 2008.

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