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Brand essence

Purpose, attitude, social relevance and overstretched brands: classification.

More sustainable, political, relevant, understanding. Friend, activist and do-gooder. Brands are supposed to be, be able to do and achieve a great deal. This can not only be overwhelming and paralysing. Rather, there is a danger of diluting one’s own brand in an attempt to meet all these requirements. So what should you do if someone asks you about your purpose again? We say: It helps to keep calm.

Philipp Wiederhöft
November 11, 2020

The question of meaning, purpose and a brand’s contribution beyond sales not only has its raison d’être, but in view of the news nowadays is probably more necessary than ever. The why is the core and starting point of the brand strategy. However, not every purpose has to express relevance to society as a whole. The extent to which social influence beyond one’s own company is actually possible depends very much on the industry and area of activity, the size of the company and the respective resources.

Nor should purpose be understood as a recently emerged essential marketing tool that also has to be communicated to the outside world as a quality that shapes a company’s image. If we are talking about the perception of a brand by its target group, there should still be brands that focus on product benefits and personality.

What the target group associates a brand with in the end can be based on very different aspects. And that’s a good thing!

The fact that attitude, product, function as well as an attitude to life can be a formative focus, allows for differentiation and reflection on one’s own strengths.

For example, we associate the outdoor brand Patagonia with political activism and environmentally conscious action, the mobility service provider Uber with its promise of uncomplicated transportation, and the fashion label A.P.C. with a personality that expresses understated luxury.

At Stan Hema, we therefore view and manage brands from three rather than one perspective: purpose, promise and personality.

Together with our clients, we also find out which quality has the potential to create a particularly strong external image for the brand – and whether this is the desired association that makes sense in terms of the target group and competition.

However, this does not mean that other qualities and dimensions then lose their meaning and purpose or become extras. On the contrary: The more brands are managed holistically and the more consistently the purpose, promise and personality are “brought to life” through product, communication and organisation, the clearer the brand’s image becomes. Although in some cases the purpose may be less relevant for end customers, companies should always be aware of their responsibility and their own motivation. Last but not least, this internal awareness can motivate, inspire and unite employees and teams.

However, it is no less essential to create clarity about your own brand’s personality and benefit promise. Together with our clients, we create a shift in perspectives for this: From “what we offer” to “what you get out of it”; from product attributes to rational, emotional and sometimes transformative benefits. With the brand personality, on the other hand, we hone in on the how; the character and tone with which a brand wants to be perceived by its target group.

So the answer to the question of whether every brand must deliver relevance to society as a whole is no – but brands must deal more than ever with the question of how they improve the lives of their individual users. And at the same time accept that they have never before had to deal with such well-informed and demanding consumers who do not expect brands to save the world, but do expect a clear stance on socially relevant issues, especially in younger generations.

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Philipp Wiederhöft
+49 30 2325761 35
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