What is the difference between a brand’s purpose and its value proposition?

Pop quiz: do you know your brand purpose from your value prop? Many organizations can articulate the value proposition that they offer to their customers, yet struggle to define an underlying brand purpose. Still more use the two terms interchangeably. In fact, a brand’s purpose and its value proposition are two distinct elements that serve radically different functions when applied to a brand’s overall strategy and philosophy.

What is a value proposition?

  • Defines tangible value delivered to consumers
  • Includes every touchpoint up to, including, and after purchase
  • Explains what an organization does and how it does it

To begin, let’s define value proposition to better understand how it connects to and differs from an organization’s core purpose. In short, a value proposition refers to tangible value consumers can expect to receive when engaging with a particular product or service. This includes every touchpoint the individual has with the brand: the path to purchase, the experience of using the product or engaging with the service and, naturally, the price paid.

Providing compelling value and an exceptional customer experience is an important facet of any business, but it should not be confused with a brand’s purpose, which is a broader concept that undergirds the value proposition as well as the organization’s overall brand strategy. A strong and actionable value proposition should answer two primary questions: “What does the company do?” and “How does it do it?” In contrast, brand purpose answers a more abstract and introspective question: “Why?”

What is a brand purpose?

  • Explains why an organization exists and what it stands for
  • Provides a foundation for the value prop and brand strategy as well as company culture, behavior and core values
  • Creates a roadmap for future decision-making that is understood at every level

Brand purpose defines why you exist as an organization, and should be expressed with singular focus through every facet of the business. A strong purpose statement provides the foundation for every decision you will ever make as a company; as such, it must be direct enough to be understood by all employees and internal stakeholders, and expansive enough to direct your organization’s external ambitions in the future.

A strong brand purpose communicated effectively can inspire employees and create a culture where purpose is not a slogan, it’s a way of life. Employees who truly believe in what they do and understand why it matters have the potential to become the ultimate ambassadors for the brand, expressing its values internally through touchpoints with customers, and externally as well.

There is no one correct approach when it comes to developing a resonant brand purpose statement. The best examples feel at once deeply personal and unique to a particular organization, yet broad enough to fully encompass everything that they have done, do today and might do in the future. Consider Coca-Cola’s purpose statement: “To refresh the world in mind, body and spirit. To inspire moments of optimism and happiness.” Google’s purpose statement is comparably grounded, but still conveys its aspirational ethos: “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

Creating a compelling purpose statement is one of the most difficult and demanding aspects of developing a brand. As such, businesses must take time to understand each of the elements discussed above (as well as how and where they interact with your overall brand strategy) in order to position the organization for success in the future.

Remember that an authentic brand purpose provides a foundation for everything else that you do as an organization. Before embarking on any strategic initiative, businesses must ask themselves a critical question, with brand purpose as their guide: Are we responding to the needs of the market in an authentic way? Or are we leveraging our purpose in order to define our position within it?

To learn more about this topic or to discuss an issue impacting your business, contact Bailey’s Vice President of Client Services, Jamie Gailewicz, at 610-818-3103 or click here to contact us via [email protected]

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