IDEAS

Brand purpose and
the human experience

At a time when people are overrun with information, products and promotions in their everyday lives, how can brands cut through to form meaningful and lasting connections with their customers or end-users?

It’s a challenge that brands have always faced, and often ignored in our experience.

In today’s digital age, understanding every touchpoint in the brand experience has never been so important – where customers have constant access to multiple channels, apps and streams of information to inform what brands they engage with and support. There is also more competition, more distraction and the user is arguably more critical, so what should brands be doing?

Now more than ever, brands need to be able to offer customers more than just a low price point to cut through this noise – showing their customers a clear purpose for what they do, make or sell. By connecting to the more emotive, human experience, brands can create a connection that lasts longer and means more.

An important part of this is understanding the role of the built environment. As the space where your brand purpose is physically experienced, there is both massive opportunity and risk in how a brand communicates its purpose. This is why, no matter what stage Diadem is brought on to a project, whether during design, procurement or management, we always circle back to brand purpose.

This concept has gained considerable traction in the past 10 years, partly due to the rise of conscious consumerism and corporate social responsibility. According to a recent study from Accenture, 65% of respondents based their purchase decisions on the words, values and actions of company leaders. On top of this, nearly two-thirds preferred to purchase products and services from companies that stood for a purpose that reflected their own values and beliefs – and would avoid companies that didn’t. For a brand to differentiate itself from its competitors, it must stand for something bigger than just what they sell.

This is what a brand purpose helps to articulate, asking the questions: who does the brand want to be, what does it stand for, and what core problems or issues is it trying to solve? Like some of our clients, this could be to build trust in society and solve important problems (PWC Australia); to enrich community experiences (Vicinity Centres); or, to shape a world where people and communities thrive (ANZ).

As these examples show, a brand purpose should be the foundation that guides the rest of your business activity – rather than a last-minute thought that’s tacked on to an existing structure. Authenticity is key in bringing together what your brand is good at and what larger issues it is trying to tackle.

So, how can brands harness this to create purposeful brand strategy and tangible outcomes for their customers?

In late 2019, Australia Post began rolling out their new brand identity across the country. Emphasising the brand’s iconic postal horn and red and white colours, the new logo also featured a larger font size for the word ‘Australia’ – in essence, “putting Australia back into Australia Post.” While this new visual identity was designed to unite Australia Post’s diverse portfolio of products, brands and buildings, it also served as a powerful visual reminder of Australia Post’s central purpose to create connection and opportunities that matter to every Australian.

Diadem worked alongside Australia Post and creative agency MAUD throughout the rebrand process to provide direction on how the brand kit would be applied in the built environment and ultimately help deliver this across Australia Post’s 4,000-plus retail, commercial and industrial buildings. So far, this has included Australia Post’s headquarters and corporate offices, a distribution centre in Redbank (the largest in the southern hemisphere), and local post offices in Cronulla and Port Macquarie.

Particularly with the retail sites, the new branding is about more than just signage, with a focus on upgrading the entire store to elevate the user experience. Taking this human point of view means making the buildings better, safer and more efficient, as well as reflecting the personality of different towns and cities in each store with local products on the shelves.

This perspective is what a brand purpose enables you to do – going beyond the customer journey to more holistically understand the human experience. As American author and Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck once wrote: “you can only understand people if you feel them in yourself.”

Placing the human at the centre of your brand builds empathy and can help give the perspective needed to design products and services that directly respond to the aspirations and values of your customers. While this could be addressing specific social and environmental causes, it can also involve working towards more general goals like connectivity, health and wellness. Your brand purpose doesn’t need to speak to everyone, but it should touch on the key beliefs and attitudes of your core audience.

Framing brand purpose in this way presents a powerful opportunity to establish an emotional, human connection that your customers can link with what you do – ultimately fostering a greater culture of trust and transparency.

In this sense, a relevant and well-articulated brand purpose can strengthen customer relationships, improve engagement and drive greater customer loyalty. The business implications of this are clear when you consider that 65% of a company’s business comes from its existing customers.

 

In an age where relevancy and loyalty is key, spending the time to understand, define and make your brand purpose visible is a critical first step in connecting with your customers – and creating authentic products and experiences that have enduring value.

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