Brand purpose has never been more vital than right now. Ben Lukawski, Zenith’s Global Chief Strategy Officer, joined a panel at Advertising Week 2020 to discuss if now is the perfect opportunity for brands to renew commitments, redefine responsibility, create new meaning and find new connections; or if the risks of being seen as phoney simply too great. Here are four key takeaways from that panel.

What is brand purpose?

There’s a tendency to think that brand purpose is linked to charity, but it’s really about being meaningful and providing value to people. In the current climate, different people require different needs – from simple access to the product, to the ability to pay for the product and finding different uses for it – so brands should be thinking about how they can make it easier for people to access their products and how they can deliver new ways to meet the ever-evolving needs of consumers.

Measuring authenticity

This year is going to accelerate brand trust for consumers and more brands will be called out for ‘trust washing’. While authenticity is difficult to measure, the brands that articulate and stay consistent to their purpose will be considered authentic. By sticking true to their ‘north star’ and having everyone – from the brand’s employees, to stakeholders, to consumers themselves – recognise what the brand stands for, it’s easier to identify an inauthentic brand.

Look inward for brand purpose before communicating externally

Employee satisfaction is high on an employer’s agenda. It’s not just consumers that need to like the brand; the company’s internal talent needs to bond with the brand too. When employees see their company pushing out messages that aren’t reflective of their own experiences while working there, they will start to lose trust. In the same way brands communicate with consumers, they need to open up dialogue with employees that enables them to contribute to the brand’s overall mission. It’s encouraging to see employees being recognised for the crucial rule they can play in a brand’s purpose and success.

The purpose of being authentic

A brand can’t be everything to everyone, so it needs to understand what it is, and equally important, what it is not. Purpose-based branding isn’t about simply landing a particular message, it’s about how the company serves the community and its employees. The world is watching – now more than ever – and the true spirit of brands are exposed. As the effects of the pandemic were becoming clear, our client, LVMH, recognised that there wasn’t enough hand sanitizer available to meet the public’s demand. It converted three of its perfume manufacturing facilities to make hand sanitizer. On the surface, this action didn’t play directly to its brand purpose. But its business is about fulfilling consumers’ needs at the highest level, which it did. By acting quickly and providing for people, the company demonstrated why they continue be a leader in the luxury category.

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