P&G Leads with Love
P&G Leads with Love as its Brand Purpose
I have been a proponent of brand purpose for a long time. Brand purpose is a way of setting a company apart from its competition. A strong brand purpose means having a distinct brand perspective that influences what your company does and doesn’t do. It’s what drives your company forward. It is also a means to have an emotional connection with your employees, customers and sales channels.
However, all too often companies get confused between what is a brand purpose and traditional elements of mission, vision and values. To further complicate a potential brand strategy, companies often focus on hard facts, features and attributes to distinguish themselves apart, which only reinforces commodity brand positioning without any unique distinction for the brand.
Last night, while watching TV casually I saw an advertisement for P&G called “Lead with Love”. It is a collection of beautiful, smiling, happy babies giggling away with a backdrop chorus of children singing. Watch the spot HERE. The spot really caught my family’s attention, enough for us to point it out to each other. In my opinion, it is a prime example of brand leading with purpose.
This morning, I did a little digging on P&G’s website to understand if this was a flash in a pan or a real commitment to real brand purpose. Their former CMO, Jim Stengel, has long been a proponent of brand purpose within P&G and within the industry, so hopefully he has had an impact on P&G over time.
What I saw on their website was remarkable. They show a picture of interlocking pinky fingers with a heart and the tagline “LEAD WITH LOVE”. The narrative then goes on to explain, “DOING GOOD IS IN OUR DNA… For generations, we’ve supported consumers and communities through unexpected challenges. We’ve been stepping up for more than 180 years and will continue to push ourselves to do more. The extraordinary events of 2020 have made it clear that brands and companies have a responsibility to society and the world around us. P&G is determined to Lead with Love and to make 2021 the year we all come together to do more and do better for communities, equality, and our planet.”. Later, on their website, the company commits to 2,021 Acts of Good during this year of recovery.
Wow! This is not just another typical advertising campaign. No, this represents a tangible transformation. It is a cultural change of an entire company's attitude and purpose among all employees, all customers, and all of their partners and sales channels to embrace new behaviors and identities that unite them in a common purpose in the world.
Many people and professionals in HR and marketing still don’t understand the benefits of a singular emotional brand purpose. So, let me refresh what they are and what the distinctions should be.
Strong benefits of having a brand purpose
- Deloitte’s Core Belief Study shows that having a strong brand purpose has a direct correlation and impact on customer engagement, employee engagement, and incremental revenue, and customer satisfaction
- Two-thirds of consumers surveyed say they would switch to a product from a purpose-driven company, and 68% say they would feel more willing to share content with their social networks from purpose-driven companies than traditional companies
- A strong brand purpose means having a distinct brand perspective that influences what your company does and doesn’t do. It’s what drives your company forward.
- The purpose is the ‘Why’ you exist: The higher-order reason for being for a brand or business than just ‘making a profit’ or ‘driving shareholder value’
- Purpose-driven brands outperform their competitors on multiple levels, achieving greater customer loyalty, stronger brand affinity, and infinitely more powerful marketing campaigns
- Just like people, organizations need a guiding star to motivate them and keep them centered as they change and grow. Brand purpose is more than just something that attracts an audience – it’s the key to motivating yourself and your employees.
So, what is the difference between mission, vision, values, and purpose?
I get this question all the time, so I finally created an illustration that provides an explanation.
- Vision is ‘Where’ you want to get to: This is a destination of what you want the brand or business to be in the future (e.g. ‘We want to be the world’s leading provider of X by 2025').
- Mission(s) is the ‘What’ you should do to get there: These could be specific initiatives or tactics centered around product development, operational excellence, go-to-market strategies, or brand communications.
- Values are the ‘How’ you would like to behave in order to get there: What is the organizational culture of a company or an organization? And what are the qualities or behaviors it prizes, for instance: curiosity, inclusivity, diversity of thought etc.
- Lastly, Purpose is the ‘Why’ you exist: The higher-order reason for being a brand or business than just ‘making a profit’ or ‘driving shareholder value.
Companies need to create a narrative, similar to storytelling, that creates shareholder capital and an emotional connection to the brand. The narrative should describe WHERE the company wants to be, WHAT it is going to do to get there, HOW the company will behave to achieve its goal, and WHY it matters to employees, customers and the sales channel.
Basic definitions and factual information regarding “Brand Purpose”
- Some people use the terms purpose-driven marketing and cause-related marketing interchangeably. Purpose-driven marketing is the more encompassing term, which revolves around a company’s greater purpose
- According to Jim Stengel’s (Former CMO of P&G) definition, purpose-driven marketing is “about defining what a company does – beyond making money – and how it can make its customers’ lives better.”
- Two-thirds of consumers surveyed say they would switch to a product from a purpose-driven company, and 68% say they would feel more willing to share content with their social networks from purpose-driven companies than traditional companies.
- According to Kantar, brands with a high sense of purpose have experienced a brand valuation increase of 175% over the past 12 years compared to the median growth rate of 86%
- Nearly eight in ten (79%) Americans say they are more loyal to purpose-driven brands than traditional brands, and nearly three-quarters (73%) are more willing to defend them, according to the 2018 Cone/Porter Novelli Purpose Study. The study, examining consumer expectations and behaviors toward companies that lead with purpose, finds that purpose-driven brands can build stronger emotional connections with consumers that go far beyond a transactional relationship.
Kudos to P&G - P&G’s Purpose, Values and Principles (PVPs) are the foundation of who they are.
I am very encouraged by what I read and what I’ve seen. P&G is a company that is transforming itself to be purpose-driven in everything that they do regarding sustainability, diversity and inclusion, community impact, and to become a relevant brand with purpose by the year 2030. Ultimately this will help them sell more and connect with their customers, employees, suppliers, retailers, and business channels. Virtually, all of their stakeholders
This is how they define their purpose: “Our Purpose is to improve consumers’ lives in small but meaningful ways, and it inspires our people to make a positive contribution every day. Our Values of Integrity, Leadership, Ownership, Passion for Winning, and Trust shape how we work with each other and with our partners. And Our Principles articulate our deliberate approach to conducting work every day.
P&G is not the only company that has focused its brand purpose on “LOVE”. Another company that has had a long-term brand purpose of LOVE is Subaru. They embarked on their long-term ”LOVE” brand purpose in 2013, and it has evolved into product development, dealer expansion/relationships, philanthropy, community impact, diversity, inclusion, and much more. In 2018 they created an 2018 to 2025 long-term vision called STEP Program. STEP stands for SPEED - Speedily advance initiatives; TRUST - Restore trust; ENGAGEMENT- Engage and resonate with customers; and PEACE OF MIND and ENJOYMENT - Provide “Peace of Mind and Enjoyment” to customers.
Subaru’s rallying cry and credo is “Take ‘Steady, Strong Steps’ before a future JUMP over social changes.” They have embraced their vision to implement work on three simultaneous pillars: 1) to enhance corporate quality, 2) build a strong brand, AND 3) sustainable growth based on focus strategy.
Their strategy has worked, despite the downturn in the economy, COVID, and a shift to electric vehicles. They have a loyal following of owners and dealers who understand what they stand for and why it is a brand with distinction.
The brand purpose must be operationalized in every facet of the company. It must touch strategy, supply chain, manufacturing, product planning, HR processes, financial management, and, of course, brand marketing and communications. Brand purpose should be managed like any other business process to achieve high performance and significant return on investment.
If you would like to have a conversation about your “Brand Purpose”, and how to create a narrative that makes you stand out, build on your stakeholder capital, and improve your social standing, give me a call.
Give us a call at 617-308-3017 or reach out – at email@example.com.
Allan Steinmetz CEO