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Merging Brand Purpose and Promise: A Strategic Power Move

Earlier this year we discussed the increasing interest from consumers in purpose-driven brands, and the potential marketing pitfalls brands should avoid – inauthenticity and tone deafness among them. Here we dive deeper into brand promise (the value you bring to your audiences) and brand purpose (the impact you hope to have on the world), and why sometimes they should be one and the same.

The value of not just aligning – but merging – your brand promise with your brand purpose extends beyond attracting and retaining new values-driven consumers; it can drive business efficiencies, attract talent, increase brand affinity and enhance your brand storytelling across marketing channels.

Altruistic to consumer-centric: Brands getting it right

Brands like Ben & Jerry’s and TOMS have become known for their dedication to business models centered on solving societal challenges. Their altruistic goals are at the core of who they are and why they do what they do, and their business efforts contribute in direct ways to their desired outcomes.

But for many other brands, contributing to a social cause is not a direct outcome of their business model. Instead, their core purpose may be specific to their stakeholders – wanting to provide them with something better, something that will truly improve theirlives. And that purpose, like Ben & Jerry’s’ or TOMS’ purpose, is at the core of their business plan, seminal to what they offer and who they are.  

Peloton is a strong example of a brand whose purpose aligns with its promise. Peloton carries its purpose/promise of “empowering people to be the best version of themselves anywhere, at any time” through the entire consumer experience. Everything the brand does supports its purpose, from the continuously improved user experience in its app, to the attitudes and approaches of the instructors, to the messages that cheer you on and pick you up. 

Peloton’s purpose/promise also serves as a ‘north star’ when navigating the best way to stay aligned to the brand promise in the face of challenges, uncertainties and even mistakes (its recent holiday spot among them).  

Peloton’s new Chief Marketing Officer Dara Treseder said it best in a recent article from The Drum: “We live in this world where lots of stuff happens all the time, and you get thrown curveballs. But no matter what, we come back to that [north star] – how can we improve the lives of our members? People who know us trust us. And the people who are getting to know us are also inspired by seeing that this company is really committed to doing what’s right for its members.” 

This purpose isn’t ancillary to Peloton’s business, it is its business, and the key reason for its incredibly loyal consumer base and overall business success.

Alignment benefits your consumers and your business

Connecting your purpose to the core of your promise has two other benefits as well: 

1) It enables your lower funnel marketing tactics to work harder. A strong brand purpose/promise is not just about awareness and upper funnel marketing. By connecting your lead gen and content marketing initiatives to your brand purpose, you are able not only to give your consumers something of value, but to solidify the emotional connection they are building with your purpose. With a strong brand purpose/ promise, each and every marketing tactic can help reinforce that promise (and thus the affinity), while at the same time allowing space to talk about the functional and rational benefits of what your brand brings to the table.  

2) It enhances employee retention. An interesting HR blog post states that “recent research reveals that above all else — including pay — employees remain with companies when they align with the company’s purpose. When employees understand what their company stands for, they are more likely to stand with that company — and they are more likely to go the extra mile to further that purpose.” Employees are savvy enough to know that the work they put in is not intrinsically tied to the social causes their company supports, but if they know their work is building towards a purpose they believe in (whether for profit, or not), and they can see the impact of what they are contributing, that gives them an extra level of motivation and satisfaction.  

Are your brand’s promise and purpose aligned? Could they be? 

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about the author

Stephanie Spicer  At the core of Stephanie’s work is a deep passion and a laser focus on helping clients win. Her background in brand strategy and client service is proof she can drive growth at all levels. This includes serving as a vice president for Grey in New York. There, she helped consumer brands such as Oreo, Advil, Tanqueray and Botox connect with audiences ranging from affluent boomers to millennials to moms. 


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