It’s likely a head nod for me to say that purpose is a market requirement for brands in 2022.
From Larry Fink:
“It’s never been more essential for CEOs to have a consistent voice, a clear purpose, a coherent strategy, and a long-term view. Your company’s purpose is its north star in this tumultuous environment.”
To the Zeno Strength of Purpose Study:
“Global consumers are four to six times more likely to trust, buy, champion, and protect those companies with a strong purpose over those with a weaker one.”
And you may even easily agree that purpose can’t just be a tagline, or a sentiment plastered on tee shirts or websites. Purpose, to be credible, must be visible in the daily operations of your company and the experiences of your customers with your brand and company.
Purpose without follow-through is a demonstrably costly and a risky path – just ask WeWork or Uber or Theranos. Purpose with follow-through is rocket fuel – just ask Airbnb, Patagonia, Tesla, or Microsoft. And where is the first place you can look for signs of which side of the divide your company falls on? It’s the employee experience.
Purpose, to be credible and to work as the long-term bulwark Mr. Fink is referencing above, must be believed, felt, seen, and experienced by your employees. Employees should experience your brand purpose first, viscerally, and consistently.
Oftentimes, Northbound is approached by companies wanting to talk about their employer brand. To which, we offer two thoughts, 1) it’s fantastic that you are thinking about your employees relative to your brand, and 2) there is no employer brand; it’s just brand.
Employees are perhaps the most important stakeholder a company has. We see a whole generation in Gen Z who has been told as kids, teenagers, and young adults that they must be honest, kind, and fair people, and who then show up to work and witness employers, managers, and in some cases entire markets or industries, who don’t honor or reward those values at all.
The cost and urgency of embedding purpose in your culture and your employee experience is apparent. If you don’t believe us, just look at the data around the Great Resignation and now Quiet Quitting. Employees are reprioritizing work and demanding more meaning and boundaries – or else.
These same employees are often the most credible source of information for prospects and customer sentiment, affinity, perceptions, and preferences. Yet, too often, employees are left out of informing, measuring and guiding brand strategy and execution.
To reap the benefits of brand with your employee base, they must be considered an input and a key metric guiding your brand. Employees must also be given a voice to impact your brand strategy and inform your customer and employee experiences.
A healthy brand that’s prepared for the long-term, where all constituents have confidence to do the right things to achieve shared goals and fulfill a worthy purpose, is one where all three of the following are happening at the same time:
- Leadership has articulated a clear purpose for the brand and created systems of accountability for delivering on that purpose throughout the organization.
- Employees have an unwavering compass for upholding strategic goals, and clarity of purpose that spans organizational boundaries.
- Customers feel enrolled as stakeholders in the brand’s growth and success, see purpose in their experiences with the brand, and consistently have their expectations met or exceeded.
When the gaps among leadership, employees and customers are wide – when external experiences and perceptions, and internal beliefs and actions are not aligned, it creates dissonance between expectations and delivery. Ultimately affinity is eroded and efficiency in attracting, converting and retaining customers and employees is driven down.
It’s time to bring the employee experience into how you form, articulate and deliver your brand strategy. Create connection between your employee value proposition and employee experience and, equally important, your customer/product value propositions and customer experiences. While purpose-washing won’t cut it anymore in mainstream markets, neither will simply shipping another employee brand kit.
If you're ready to bring your employee experience into your brand strategy contact Northbound today. Northbound has been recognized among the Top 10 Branding Agencies in Seattle by DesignRush.