Adams & Knight Marketing Blog
POSTED BY: Reem Nouh

Are you using these five insights to define your brand purpose?


Sustainable energy. Female empowerment. Unity.

Have you noticed a growing trend? More and more brands are making statements about what they stand for. In other words, defining their brand purpose.

Industry research gives us an idea why. Seventy-five percent of consumers expect brands to contribute to well-being and quality of life.

Yet, when actual employees were surveyed in a recent engagement study by industry leader, Deloitte, just 30 percent said they can identify with their company or brand purpose.

So what’s the secret to articulating a brand purpose that not only rings true with external audiences, but also connects with internal staff?  

Over the years, our agency has gleaned insights from the branding work we execute for leading health systems. Here are a few that can guide your efforts when defining brand purpose for your organization.

Know the difference between your mission statement and brand purpose. 
A mission statement is usually about what you do. According to Harvard Business Journal, it describes what business your company is in now and what business it plans to be in . . . in the future.

Brand purpose, on the other hand, reflects why your company exists beyond making a profit. As defined by the World Advertising Research Center (WARC), “Brand purpose combines the ambitions and beliefs that motivate the organization and the changes that it wants to make in the world. Some define it strictly in terms of social mission; others say you can have a non-social purpose, for example, being the most exciting energy drink the world.”

Ultimately, it boils down to this: how your organization helps make the world a better place.

Don’t confuse employees by creating something completely new.
Chances are, your organization is living its brand purpose every day, with every action.

And it’s probably built into the fabric of your organization. But often, healthcare systems assume everyone, including their employees, knows about the greater good they provide for the communities they serve. Like the hundreds of millions of dollars donated via community benefit programs and activities that provide treatment and improved access to services . . . regardless of a person’s ability to pay.

But just the opposite is often the case.

So why not consider the behaviors and the beliefs already in place at your organization? Then, develop a communications plan around them that reflects a core message and authentically connects everyone to your brand. One that employees will find inspiring . . . and at the same time is:
• true to your organization
• relevant to your employees; and
• unique in the market.

For example, let’s say, a hospital is dedicated to making communities healthier, providing access to the best healthcare. improving health conditions in the community. Not only does it perform life-saving, living organ transplants and surgeries, but it also enables its employees to be part of this purpose by giving them six weeks of PTO and 100 percent of pay to do it. Proof to employees (and everyone else) that it truly lives out its “purpose.”

Can’t be a one-off thing.
Brand purpose is evergreen. It acts as a unifying principle that drives everything your brand does. It includes the experience and the relationship consumers have with your organization. It doesn’t change from year to year or with every change in management. And only has to be communicated once or twice a year.  

Instead, think of brand purpose like this: Consumers want a brand that stands for something they believe in . . . and brands have to stand for something in order to remain standing.

Don’t start with tactics.
Typically, marketers looking to define brand purpose come to the table with a tactic in mind. e.g.: “We need a video.” But what they haven’t thought through is how their key audiences will see the video. A key issue that can be missed if you start with a tactic like this . . . because so many of those employed within the health system don’t sit at a desk in front of a computer screen. Like doctors, nurses, patient support aides, environmental staff, etc.

The best place to start articulating your brand purpose is by developing a strategy that will help bring it to life. As part of the process, you’ll identify what you may already have in place, examine who you need to reach and how you’ll reach them . . . among other things.

Look to non-profit organizations for inspiration.
Although healthcare systems are nonprofits, they don’t necessarily do a good job at making their brand purpose known. Other purpose-driven nonprofits, however, do. In fact, some can provide a model for using brand purpose to have authentic conversations with different audiences, evoke emotion and build stronger/meaningful ties with their customers.

By using these insights, you can uncover your brand purpose and make long-lasting connections to your brand. Are you ready?

For more information on how to inform your brand purpose efforts, contact Reem Nouh at

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Reem Nouh
Chief Strategy Officer
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