Reconnect with your purpose in 2021

The world became a smaller place in 2020.

It is no wonder then that connection will be one of the most significant themes in 2021.

People are looking to a New Year for new hope. A year where they can once again make real connections and build relationships.

After decades of globalisation and the growth of the international community, some doors were voluntarily closed while the Coronavirus created a world of isolation. Not only was travel restricted but at times, even having a coffee with a friend was out of the question.

During the pandemic, people’s values and how they interact with brands has also changed. There is a new opportunity to connect with your employees and customers in renewed and different ways, perhaps even reinventing yourself to make sure you remain relevant.

The fundamentals of connecting with customers on an emotional level have not changed. People must first get to know your brand. They must like what they see and hear. They will then begin to place their trust in your brand, and finally, if you keep doing the right things, they will start to feel an emotional connection to your brand.

But underpinning your brand is its purpose. What you stand for. Why your customers will connect with you.

Why purpose?

Your purpose is built on the idea that your business and brand should stand for something bigger than profit. That your brand should have a reason for existing that inspires and provides a connection to everyone who interacts with you, from partners and stakeholders to society in general.

In an EY and Harvard Business Review Survey, 90% of executives recognised the importance of having “an aspirational reason for being which inspires”. Customers now, more than ever, want to know the brands they support are supporting the future of the world around them. They have come to expect that business must look after the future of the environment and the societies which they serve. They are demanding longer-term thinking.

For your purpose to truly matter and be recognised by your customers, it has to go beyond an internal defining meeting. Too many companies take their brand work and ideals and leave them to the side. There is always a temptation to dust these off and try to retrofit a purpose into work that no longer reflects the truth of your brand.

Your purpose must sit at the core of your organisation to create a connection with your customer of today.

Purpose is the foundation to your brand.

Organisations that build brands around their purpose are the ones that can successfully connect with customers. In these challenging times, they are the brands that stand out as having greater resiliency and outperform competitors. Research conducted by Professor Raj Sissodia showed that companies operating with a clear and defined purpose outperformed in growth by 14%.

Your purpose is more significant than just your external brand perception. It drives improvements throughout your business, creating a culture that employees want to be a part of, connecting to something greater than themselves.

63.4% of executives surveyed by the Economist Intelligence Unit said a “sense of purpose helps them innovate and be better able to disrupt or respond to disruption”. When your entire business pulls in a purposeful direction, it becomes easier to respond to the difficulties and changes that this pandemic has brought.

Right now re-establishing your purpose is one of the most important things you should do. Having a clear purpose that defines your values, shines through your brand, embodies your actions as a business and your perception will be key to connecting with your customers and succeeding in the long-term.

Don’t force it.

When it comes to brand positioning and communicating your purpose, things are rarely simple. Connecting with your customers doesn’t come in a one size fits all. Simply picking a social cause can be confusing to your audience.

Instead of connecting you may confuse them and push them into believing your brand is inauthentic.

Shared values are not more important than your customers goals, and what a customer is looking for is not always related to what they care about. While research from Mintel shows that as many as 56% of customers say they will stop buying from brands they believe are unethical this isn’t actually reflected in slumps to sales for companies acting unethically. Rather than punishing unethical brands, customers seem to disconnect more with brands that are trying to be something they are not.

When you define your purpose it must be truthful to your brand actions, or your customers will turn away.

How to kick off your 2021?

1. Look back to move forward

Start the year by assessing how things went in 2020. Were you true to your mission, or were you rocked off course by the events of the year?

2. Dig out your brand manual

If you aren’t sure of your purpose or it doesn’t resonate throughout your business and brand. It is possible you went through an exercise that most do and forgot that your brand is more than just your website or brilliant design.

3. Re-define your customer

Your customer has to be at the heart of your business. What is happening in their world? How has the pandemic shaped their beliefs and values?

4. Evaluate your purpose

Does your purpose still make sense? Does it resonate strongly with your brand and your consumer? Does it need reviewing in light of the cultural and behavioural shifts.

5. Define what success is for this year

Through your purpose, know what you want to achieve.

6. Create a communication strategy

Join one of our campaign think tanks and begin to ideate your campaigns to connect with your existing and new customers on an authentic, empathetic, and meaningful level. Show them your purpose and why they should care.

Above all, in 2021, be consistent. If you deviate from your values, you will lose the trust and connection with the customers who have been captivated by your brand’s heart and purpose.

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