Despite what you might have been told, measuring brand purpose is possible. You just have to be specific in your goals, comprehensive in your actions, vocal in your journey and long-term in your thinking.
Brand purpose as a concept can seem intangible – so how can you measure its impact? The first thing you need to do is to accept that drawing a line directly to cost savings and revenue isn’t the way to approach the exercise. What you first need to do is map the business impacts you want to make with your purpose-driven activity.
What dials are you trying to turn?
Measuring purpose is not just about how you define and market brand purpose as a message, but the practices you implement to back it up. You should measure purpose through the business impacts it achieves.
It is important therefore to start by defining exactly which dials you are trying to turn – what benefits you want for your business and what wider, societal or economic impacts you want to see. You can then align your purpose practices and messages around them. For instance, do you want to increase employee loyalty and retention? Do you want to improve your brand’s reputation? Or grow revenue?
Creating these midway measures of success will then allow you to better understand if your purpose initiatives are having the impact you’re looking for.
It is of course important that before you do any of this that you start by creating a benchmark. This is a crucial part of the purpose puzzle. Only by setting the bar can you see if your purpose initiatives have worked. Looking to increase employee loyalty or retention? Survey your employees or look at your staff attrition rates.
You can then use these benchmarks to draw a line directly back to cost savings and revenue generation and see where you purpose is, or isn’t, giving you the ROI you’re looking for.
Purpose as an organising principle
But(!), neither enacting your brand purpose, nor measuring it, are activities which exclusively concern your marketing team. To truly live your purpose, you need to implement it comprehensively and have it embraced and understood across your entire organisation. Marketing thinking and methodologies can of course support with the purpose proposition and content that gets everyone aligned and pointed towards the same goals.
A recent report issued by Oxford’s Saïd Business School, stated that purpose is not a marketing exercise, but something which should be enacted across an entire organisation – ‘it has to become an organising principle, the reason why an organisation exists.’
The report identifies a framework for guiding boards of directors to govern purpose within their organisations. The ‘SCORE’ framework outlines five mechanisms – Simplify, Connect, Own, Reward, Exemplify – which allow organisations to translate their ‘purpose intent’ into ‘purpose action’ in a way which demonstrates how purpose informs strategic choices and delivers value for a range of stakeholders.
Exemplify your purpose
Without dissecting the entire framework, I wanted to highlight the final mechanism and letter – ‘Exemplify’. This outlines the importance of bringing an organisation’s purpose to life through communications and narrative strategies.
Businesses must tell the stories which show how they are exemplifying their purpose. Doing so grounds your purpose in authenticity – living your purpose through narratives where leaders own up to challenges and failings, as well as successes. When striving for purpose-driven business impacts, it’s storytelling which is most effective.
And that’s where an agency like ours comes in. Rationale is immersed in the business impacts purpose activity can achieve, and how to define, articulate and amplify your brand purpose in a sustainable way to make a long-term impact worth measuring.