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Ugly Conversations
– Episode 3 –
Have we lost the plot? Rekindling the purpose of brand

With ‘purpose’ one of the most overused marketing words of the past ten years, learn how you can rekindle the purpose of brand.

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Ugly Conversation 3 Rekindling the Purpose of Brand

Back in 2023, Unilever’s Hein Schumacher took aim at purpose, labelling it as an ‘unwelcome distraction’ for some brands and ‘irrelevant’ for others.

With it being one of the most overused marketing buzzwords of the past 10 years, the third webinar in our Ugly Conversations series brought together industry leaders to discuss if the era of purpose is dead.

Our expert panel included:

The discussion, led by Wander Bruijel, Chief Strategy Officer at Born Ugly, provided insights into how – in a world awash with purpose – brands can avoid becoming sustainable wallpaper, even if they are making significant contributions to the world.

Key outtakes from the session included:

Don’t force fit purpose for purpose’s sake
Don’t force a purpose just to appear purposeful. Instead, authentically integrate your mission into your brand story. Strong brands consistently reflect their purpose through leadership, culture, innovation and marketing.

Businesses exist to solve real problems, but they can often lose sight of their original mission by reacting to trends and community initiatives. While supporting specific causes is important, brands must stay true to their core purpose and authentically deliver on their promise to their audience, or they risk being accused of ‘purpose-washing’.

Don’t be afraid to adopt purpose rather than Purpose
As businesses you’re not expected to solve all the world’s problems. So why does a common misconception exist that purpose has to be lofty?

Purpose doesn’t just have to be limited to grand gestures, it can also be small, meaningful actions. It’s not necessary to have a big, overarching objective; even simple acts, like making people smile, matter.

Purpose isn’t all about you
As hard as this may be to hear, your consumer doesn’t care about your brand as much as you do. They don’t care about businesses boasting environmental efforts. They predominantly care about improving their own lives – making them easier and more enjoyable. Brands need to focus on enhancing consumers’ lives rather than seeking attention for their campaigns.

Purpose isn’t just a concept for your customers
Purpose goes beyond customer relations – it involves the entire company. It’s about maintaining strong, ethical relationships with the full supply chain, whether that be suppliers, consumers or staff and having a long-term perspective on the value chain.

A strong purpose that is ingrained within the company’s culture is crucial. Employees are motivated by a shared sense of meaning and collaboration, not just by hitting sales targets. A convincing, unified purpose fosters team dynamics and adapts to diverse needs, driving the business forward.

As your business grows don’t lose sight of yourself
A unique reason for existing can be a distinctive asset and offer a point of differentiation from other brands. However, we’ve recently seen a form of “brand amnesia” emerge, especially as businesses grow from challengers to large corporations.

Staying true to a core mission makes a brand authentic. Maintaining a clear brand over time allows you to tell a unique story that truly connects with your audience. Businesses that consistently align with their core objectives are often far more successful and financially profitable, avoiding the pitfall of retrofitting a purpose later on.

At Born Ugly we are creators of change, powered by truly open minds and different perspectives. This, combined with our bespoke agile process, ensures we think unthought ideas that get to the heart of a challenge to help clients unlock the opportunities of tomorrow so that they and their business can transcend today.

Contact us today and take the next step in your journey to finding the purpose of your brand.

For more insights, get your copy of our report ‘Ugly ideas, beautiful outcomes: Why C-suite challenges need creative thinking’

Get your copy of the report here.

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