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Why Having Purpose is Critical for Your Brand

Lithium Staff JamieN
Lithium Staff

You already know the strategies and tactics that you use day in day out to guide your marketing and brand building efforts in the digital space. You also know how to take care of your customers and you know what’s on your to-do list for a given day, week, and even month. But occasionally, it can be helpful to remember to step further back: to pull yourself out of the projects that drive your day’s schedule and replace them with a serious shot of inspiration. SmartSocial Summit attendees had a chance to do just that during our second day of programming.

Below we’ve gathered three of our favorite inspiring moments from SmartSocial Summit Day 2 to help guide your brand’s long-term planning, your team’s creativity, and your organization’s values. Threaded throughout this year's programming was purpose—how brands and the people who build them can find it, live it, and nurture it.

Live Your Brand’s Purpose

Roy Spence, Co-Founder and CEO of The Purpose Institute and Chairman of GSD&M, offered a delightful and inspiring keynote about purpose. “Where your talents and the needs of the world intersect, therein lies your purpose,” explained Spence, quoting Aristotle. “We all know what millennials and Gen Z wants: they want purpose,” he added. “They’re purpose-seekers. I would like to suggest that you in the digital community here and around the world ladder your title up to Chief Purpose Officer.” Because, said Spence, we can market to these consumers, we can hook them in, but the organizations that are going to win long-term are the organizations with a purpose other than making money. Your purpose needs to be genuine, Spence said. It needs to be deeper than simply doing charity: your organization needs to ask itself why the company exists.

Your organization needs to ask itself why the company exists.

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To illustrate, Spence used Southwest Airlines as an example. Spence, who’s worked with Southwest Airlines for many years, told a story about executives wanting to change the airline’s policy so that checked baggage would no longer be free. Doing so, Spence said, would earn Southwest $350 million more a year. “I told them, you can do that, but it’ll violate the purpose of the company,” Spence told the Summit audience. “I finally said, we’re not in the airline industry. This company went to the Supreme Court to democratize the skies because you wanted ordinary people to be able to fly like rich people. You’re not in the airline business, you’re in the freedom business.” And, said Spence, Southwest Airlines executives listened. It remains free to check bags.

Living your brand’s purpose can pay off in real ways. “We drove $1.2 billion in revenue by not charging for bags,” said Spence. “We took business from the competition because consumers said, you’re living for your purpose.”

Do One Thing at Time to Find Your Individual Purpose

Also this morning, author, podcast creator, and all-around technology guru Manoush Zomorodi shared her strategies for unplugging to boost output and creativity. Though at first blush Zomorodi’s methods might seem antithetical to the realities of our work lives, in fact, she explained, it’s only when we take a breath to re-center that we can reclaim our inner lives, our creativity, and our productivity.

Among the many important truth bombs that Zomorodi dropped on Summit attendees was the fact that 80% of people she surveyed recently said they continue swiping and clicking on their phones even when they know they’re overloaded. The reasons why varied, but the assessment was the same: “There are only a certain number of decisions you can make before you deplete the brain’s capacity for making good decisions,” said Zomorodi, quoting neuroscientist Daniel Levitin.

80% of people continue swiping and clicking on their phones even when they know they’re overloaded.

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Instead of overstuffing ourselves with information, we should instead do one thing at at time, Zomorodi explained, and by doing so, we can find our individual purpose, as people and as digital marketers. “By choosing information more purposefully, synthesizing it, interpreting it, and reflecting on it, we can all have a little bit more of a productive life—and actually do things that have meaning to us,” Zomorodi said.

Align Your Purpose with Your Brand’s DNA

Jennifer Saenz, Chief Marketing Officer at Frito-Lay, explained the importance of aligning purpose to your brand’s values. Saenz used a recent campaign with Stacy’s Pita Chips, a brand under the Frito-Lay umbrella, as an example. Frito-Lay, explained Saenz, has done a lot of work to support women’s empowerment. Stacy’s Pita Chips was founded by a female entrepreneur named Stacy Madison, so it was a natural decision for Frito-Lay to celebrate International Women’s Day with special-edition Stacy’s Pita Chip bags:

“Stand for something. Standing for something is so very important,” said Saenz, adding, “but it has to be consistent and incredibly authentic to your brand’s DNA.” Consumers, said Saenz, will figure it out very quickly if your message is inauthentic, or not in line with your brand’s values.

As Summit attendees, and those who’ve been following along at home, head back into the daily trials of digital marketing, we hope you’ll take these larger lessons of purpose to heart. Finding and living your brand’s purpose—and your own—is what will resonate with today’s consumers. Missed an inspiring keynote? Click through to watch livestream recordings from the main stage at ACL Live.