The Power of Purpose

When I was at P&G I was involved in a course that taught coaching and NLP techniques to managers.  I had the opportunity to watch people ask themselves, sometimes for the first time, what really mattered to them. As we went through exercises that explored their values, their beliefs and ultimately their purpose I was astounded at the huge amount of positive energy created just by becoming aware of ones own inner drivers.

Over time I’ve come to believe that a strong sense of our own purpose, of the unique gift we have to give to the world is one of the most powerful things we can connect with. When we work inline with that purpose we are at our absolute best. We feel energised, motivated and creative, everything just clicks, everything just flows. What’s more when a purpose is honestly and authentically articulated it always has a net positive benefit. We feel our most alive, our most empowered when we are self actualising, when we are giving something back. Someone working inline with their purpose is normally adding to the world in someway.

What does that purpose have to do with brands?

Everything! Organisations, like people, can benefit hugely from having a clearly defined purpose.


That same sense of internal turmoil that exists within us when we don’t know what our purpose is exists within companies. A clear direction and a clear set of values allows employees to understand if the organisations purpose and values is inline with their own. Employees that feel they can do meaningful work that is important to them and inline with their purpose will be loyal, motivated and high performing. Employees that don’t feel a shared sense of purpose will be disgruntled, distracted and will probably drift away.

[quote]”The older I get, the more I see how much motivations matter. The Zune was crappy because the people at Microsoft don’t really love music or art the way we do. We won because we personally lvoe music. We made the iPod for ourselves, and when you are doing something for yourself, or your best friend or family,  you’re not going to cheese out. If you don’t love something, you’re not going to go the extra mile, work the extra weekend, challenge the status quo as much” [/quote]  Steve Jobs


When building relationships with people we might ask What someone does, but only once we dig a little deeper and understand How (driven by their values) and Why (driven by their purpose) someone does what they do are we able to truely understand them and relate to them. Understanding the Why that drives someone helps us build a connection and trust them.

We use the same framework when judging how much we can trust a company. If we can relate to an organisation on a more human level, if we can get a sense of what drives the company and what its values are we have a basis for a trusting relationship.

Simon Sinek argues that the being in touch with Why is the reason for the success of brands such as Apple.

It goes with out saying that articulating a company’s purpose is meaningless if it isn’t consistently and passionately delivered on in everything the company does.

Image by Lara Coles