How Purpose-Driven Stories Propel Brands

Len JacobsonApril 25, 20182 min

There’s a natural tendency for businesses, salespeople and marketers to make feature-benefits the focus of their brand stories. Sharing what you offer the world is common sense. But how deep of a story is it? How compelling? How far does it go to differentiate your brand from the competition? The difference between creating noise or a signal is in the balance.

Climbing The Brand Story Hierarchy

The higher you climb on the brand story hierarchy, the deeper the connection between your story and those you share it with. Leading brands have found their way to level three.

Level One: The Maker’s Perspective: This is where we tell people what we make or do. It focuses almost exclusively on the features we offer. Here it is and here is how it compares against others in the consideration set. If the features are similar, you are forced into the realm of commodity status where customers turn primarily to price in their buying decision.

Level Two: The User’s Perspective: This is the next step in climbing the hierarchy of great brand storytelling. We spin 180-degrees from the Maker’s Perspective and think about how these features will benefit our customers. It shows we relate to their wants and needs, but still limits our ability to differentiate ourselves from the competition in the hearts and minds of those we want to engage.

Level Three: The Purpose-Driven Perspective: At the apex, we not only share what we do, but why we do it. Brands like Patagonia (fighting for the wellness of the natural world), RXBAR (fueling people with 100% natural, healthy ingredients) and Toms (putting shoes on the feet of children in need) have a clear purpose. They are engaging their brand communities with the story of why they do what they do.

By doing this, they give a deeper context and meaning to the business choices they make. So when Patagonia needed to increase prices by using exclusively organic cotton, their customers knew why and likely not only accepted it but celebrated the decision. This is at the core of passionate, sustainable success for purpose driven brands.

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