I recently spoke with a friend who has been running her own food Instagram for a few years and asked how it was going. She said it had sadly been fizzling out and she hadn't devoted any time to it recently. When I asked why, she said she felt that the reasons behind continuing to run her brand just weren't there, and she didn't feel there was a point to any of it anymore.
Sound familiar? We've all been there—our business is slow, we're struggling to stay creative and productive, and we may be burnt out. We're struggling to find a reason to continue if it seems there is no real "point."
This is where your brand purpose steps in to save the day! Having a brand purpose in place before you launch your brand (or making one now!) helps create a solid foundation to stand on through the ebbs and flows of your creative journey. It gives you laser-focus into what drives your brand and helps attract the right customers who will identify with what your brand is trying to accomplish. Sound great? It is! Let's dive into the fundamentals of a brand purpose to give you an idea of what the heck I'm actually talking about here.
Brand Purpose: The Basics
A brand purpose is not one thing, but three things put together—your brand's mission, vision, and values. Each of these pieces is unique in crafting the framework for your brand, but they all come together to act as the lighthouse for your brand's growth and longevity.
A brand's mission is what it seeks to do in the world, or more specifically, how it wants to help people. This is written in what is referred to as a mission statement. A brand's mission statement focuses on the fundamental purpose of the brand and concentrates on the present. It should be actionable and explain the "what" and "how" of your creative brand. An example of a great, concise mission statement comes from Google. Google's mission is "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful." Clear, concise, actionable. Well done, Google!
A brand mission can also help attract people who identify with your mission and your brand as a whole. Even something as simple as editing your Instagram bio to reflect your vision can help people rally around your brand. Instead of the non-descript "painter" identifier in your bio, something like "Creating oil paintings that bring wonder and energy to every wall in your home." Woah! Way more engaging, and it gives people an idea of the kind of vibe they can expect from your page. I'd follow that account!
A brand's vision is just that, a vision for the future state of the brand. It is a brief, aspirational statement that expresses where the brand would like to be one day. It is the True North of the brand, and the thing to set your sights on as you grow your creative brand. An example of a great brand vision is from Microsoft. Microsoft's mission statement is simply, "a computer on every desk and in every home." Boom. Mic drop. (Did I mention mic drops are an absolutely legit way to measure the strength of your brand mission and vision?)
We all have personal values. Creativity, loyalty, service, love, integrity. Values help guide our actions and shape our behaviors so we can lead fulfilling lives. It is equally important for your brand to have its own set of values. Brand values are the true bedrock of a brand and are there to serve as the commandments you will operate your brand by. They are the enduring tenants you can come back to when motivation and morale are low. Think of single words to start, then flesh out short explanations.
An example of a set of brand values comes from Adobe. Adobe's brand values are:
Genuine—sincere, trustworthy, and reliable.
Exceptional—committed to creating exceptional experiences that delight our employees and customers.
Innovative—highly creative and always striving to connect new ideas with business realities.
Involved—inclusive, open and actively engaged with our customers, partners, employees and the communities we serve.
Genuine. Exceptional. Innovative. Involved. These aren't what Adobe aspires to be or what their products can do, they are who Adobe is as a brand. Whether you agree with them or not is not the point, it's that these are the pillars upon which Adobe has built their brand and will continue to fall back on for years to come.
Crafting a brand purpose takes time, dedication, introspection, and analysis. Even if you are okay just "making cool stuff on the internet" for now, I guarantee that will not be enough to sustain your practice a few years down the line. Your brand needs a solid foundation to stand the test of time, and a brand purpose will help you hit the ground running and operate your brand with the intention it deserves.
Want to learn more about crafting a brand purpose? Watch for my upcoming workbook on brand purpose for creative businesses! I'll give you a ton of information on the nitty-gritty of a brand purpose, pages of questions to help guide you through creating your own, and lots of extra examples, tips, and tricks! Until then, I hope this intro gave you a quick look into how a brand purpose can help you beat stagnation and grow to your highest potential!