Brand purpose is your authentic “reason for being” that applies to both your consumers and your employees. It answers the questions “why does your brand exist?” and “what purpose does it serve to the world?” Simply put, it’s your brand’s why:

But to get your brand purpose right, you first need to know why it’s important, what pitfalls to avoid, and what other brands have done to find success.

Why is brand purpose important?

Seventh Generation, TOMS, and Burt’s Bees are a few of the brands at the top of Inc.’s 2022 Purpose Power Index, which measures how well brands resonate with the public based on their commitments to purpose beyond profit. And chances are they’re seeing good economic results: one study shows that 85 million U.S. consumers buy goods and services from companies with a purpose they agree with, while 149 million would boycott companies based on an opposing sociopolitical stance on issues.

These numbers largely come from the newest generations in the marketplace: millennials and Gen Zers. Both have acquired more market share and are vocal–especially in the public forum of social media–about their expectations. According to Zeno Group’s “Strength of Purpose” study, Gen Z (92%) and millennials (90%) would act in support of a purposeful brand, as opposed to Gen X (81%) and Baby Boomers (73%).

This is why it’s so important to focus on brand purpose. Go beyond the mission statement and express your company’s ideology through everything you do, including your promotional activities, product, pricing, place (distribution), and your people.

Brand purpose pitfalls to avoid

The most important thing to remember is to understand why your company really exists. If you don’t have that, then you won’t have the ability to develop an effective brand that represents your organization’s values or vision. This is especially true when partnering with an agency to develop your brand. The agency can create as many logos and slogans as you’d like, but they won’t have any real impact on your consumers or employees unless the agency has a true understanding of your brand purpose–something you must provide.

Following trends is another risky venture. Sure, a funny meme here or there can get some laughs and a few clicks, but it can severely limit the strength of your brand identity. You’ll run the risk of always being known as an imitator, not an innovator. And don’t forget that your brand’s reputation could take a hit if your execution isn’t spot on. Remember Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi ad? It probably seemed like a great idea at the time, but you can be sure Pepsi didn’t like the response it garnered. But enough about getting brand purpose wrong…

Examples of how to get brand purpose right

These next few brands took their purpose to heart and, in turn, live in the hearts of both their consumers and employees.

Huggies “ensures all babies get the hugs they need”

Huggies makes sure that all babies get the right care, from providing a comprehensive approach to diapering care in Every Change Matters: A Guide to Developmental Diapering Care to sharing clinical insights from the Huggies Nursing Advisory Council.

Huggies also makes specially-designed products for the tiniest babies, developed in partnership with NICU nurses, and has expanded its 200M+ diaper and wipes donations to the needy, as well as continued to work with hospitals and leading childcare organizations to help all babies stay clean, dry, and healthy.

Volvo provides the “freedom to move in a safe, personal, and sustainable way”

There is no better way to prove commitment to making the world a better place than to truly put purpose before profits. This is exactly what car manufacturer Volvo did after it invented the three-point seatbelt in 1959–and then gave the patent away for free. The three-point harness is now standard in every car built today, and it’s estimated that the restraint system has saved more than a million lives over the past 60 years.

SunTrust is “lighting the way to financial well-being”

The senior leaders at SunTrust, a financial organization, “walk-the-talk” by making sure their employees get the full benefit of the company’s stated brand purpose, which is “lighting the way to financial well-being.” CEO Bill Rogers led the purpose effort by personally encouraging all employees to take their “Day of Purpose” each year, which gave them the chance to get their own finances in order during their day off.

Check out “The Importance of Brand Purpose” on-demand webinar to learn more about how BERA can help unlock the power of your brand purpose.