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Brand Purpose for a World in Crisis

Brand Purpose for a World in Crisis

Hara Junko

Executive Director, Business Development



The recently-released BrandZ™ Top 100 Global Brands showed that the combined brand value of the world’s leading brands is higher than ever before. Behind this continued growth – and despite a market downturn on a global scale - are brand assets that have been built up incrementally over time and now seem to have borne fruit.

Meanwhile, the role of brands has also changed sizably in 2020. People – both as consumers and employees – are assessing brands and businesses more strictly than ever using a litmus test of Trust.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, brands were already talking about providing experiences rather than products or services. Post-COVID-19, however, brands have become platforms that facilitate relationship-building with individuals. Clearing the “Can I trust this?” hurdle through relationship-building creates a path to purchase and word-of-mouth. In other words, brands that have built strong relationships and cultivated communities that sustain actions organically will have more valuable brand assets in 2021 and beyond.

Brand Purpose as a Compass

Brands that provided supplies to medical workers, halted their usual manufacturing lines (and instead produced disinfectant), or contributed to vaccine development are probably still fresh in your mind. When the Black Lives Matter movement emerged, a number of brands took a clear stance in their communications. What unites these approaches is that the brand’s stance to the world is clearly defined.

For a whole host of reasons, actually implementing bold approaches like the above creates a lot of challenges. Taking a stance requires massive courage for big businesses. And action such as changing operating lines is not something that can be done in an instant. But shouldering major societal roles in this way becomes part of the meaning of the brand’s existence – in other words, its Brand Purpose.

Why does this brand exist?  If the answer to that question can be communicated in clear, precise wording, and connected with everyday business tasks, employees will also naturally understand and implement it. Adopting Brand Purpose itself as a compass therefore allows brands to swiftly move from decision to execution - without hesitation, whenever something unpredictable occurs.

Indeed, having a strong Brand Purpose creates big shifts – for the better – in how business is conducted. When in-house consensus on an issue is needed, for example, the matter can now be adjudged equitably from a Brand Purpose perspective, rather than become mired in an attempt to juggle the standpoints of countless stakeholders.

At Landor, when a brand is being created or repositioned, our BrandDriver Platform develops a brand’s “compass,” and defines its existential beliefs and values. Ultimately, what we’ve found time and again is that strong, purposeful branding creates a strong business. It contributes to economic activity, improves people’s lives, and provides returns in the form of values that cannot be made with money. In times of crisis, Brand Purpose will provide the strength and resilience to protect your business. In the coming age of turbulent change, Brand Purpose is more essential than ever before.