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Think Brand Purpose before Thinking Brand Strategy

If making money is the reason for the existence of your business, you are significantly limiting the potential of your brand. Making money is a great result to have, but it shouldn’t be the sole purpose behind the existence of your brand. However, if you can’t think of an answer beyond ‘making money’ when trying to find the ‘brand purpose’, don’t worry – you are not alone.

This leads us to ‘The Golden Circle’ conceptualized by Simon Sinek, the author of ‘Start with Why’. This little circle gives an insight into why certain companies inspire the customers and others don’t. Sinek states that all the companies in the world know what they are doing, some know how they do it in the form of their USP or proprietary process, but very few companies know why they do it. This insight is as true for people as it is for companies. So most companies are operating at the surface (What) but very few are aware of the innermost core. But the catch, Simon says, is that ‘People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it’.

Before people can be aware of the ‘why’, the companies need to know it. In fact, inspired companies and leaders actually operate from inside out, which means they are clear about why they want to do it before they actually do it. So which are the inspiring companies whose brand strategy has a brand purpose that has appealed to the masses? No such list is complete without the mention of Apple Computers.


If Apple were like any other company focusing only on the What and How, then their marketing pitch would probably sound like – ‘We make great computers (What). They’re beautifully designed (How) and simple-to-use. Want to buy one?’

But Apple is Apple for a reason. Their inside out pitch would sound something like ‘We believe in challenging the status quo in everything we do. We believe in thinking differently (Why). We challenge the status quo by making beautifully designed user-friendly products (How). That’s how we make great computers and phones (What). Want to buy one?’

Which marketing pitch is more impactful and more likely to make you want to buy Apple products? Obviously the second one, right? That’s how an inside out flow of thinking influences your target customers.


Expensify is an expense tracking application, found by David Barrett who himself hated managing his expense reports. But he didn’t try to sell his offering as a software that scans receipts and interfaces with accounting. Instead, he positioned it as a solution that allowed people to focus on what they loved by eliminating the time spent on managing their expenses.

As strong a reason-to-buy as it was, this was actually a trojan horse that hid within itself the real brand purpose – innovatively feeding the homeless people on the streets. This noble brand purpose took the shape of Expensify Karma Cards, which not only tracked the expenses but spent 10 percent of the revenue towards providing food security, housing, climate justice and other causes. Customers connected to this noble brand purpose and how! They were more than happy to sacrifice the typical reward points that other cards were offering.



Crayola considers ‘What if?’ as the greatest question in the world, a question that opens up infinite possibilities. Crayola was founded to encourage children to think of these ‘What if?’ possibilities and not be bogged down by the impossibilities. So their inspirational brand purpose, as shown in this diagram, is ‘to unleash the originality in every child’. What a beautiful and powerful brand purpose. Just think about this. Which company is likely to appeal to parents more? One that simply entertains and engages their kid or the one that ‘unleashes the originality in their child’? No prize for guessing the answer, and no wonder then that Crayola is parents’ favourite for their beloved child.


Dove is not just another soap. It makes great quality soaps that make us experience that special afterbath softness in the skin. But that’s not the only reason women connect with it. Brand Dove is a hit because its brand communication makes every woman feel empowered. However, that empowering communication springs from an empowering brand purpose – ‘To help women everywhere develop a positive relationship with the way they look, helping them realize their full potential’. With a brand purpose like that to boot and a brand campaign that supports an inclusive idea of beauty, it is very easy for women of all sizes, colours and race to love the brand.

As these great brands show us, brand purpose is at the core of the brand. A company whose brand purpose is to just make profit or money sacrifices a huge potential of creating an emotional connect with their target audience. So the brands need to invest their time and effort to give themselves that larger brand purpose.

The brand purpose of HCF is to provide innovative and creative advertising services to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) for whom the national ad agencies are out of bounds. Aligned with this purpose, we have creatively supported many brands like Real Namkeen, Vasant Masala, Zoopy Noodles, Kalpana Agarbatti and others in their journey of becoming regional leaders.

So the next time you think brand strategy or brand communication, ask yourself, ‘Do I know the brand purpose of my company?’

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