Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility Brand Purpose Strategy - Anthesis Group

Brand Purpose

Brand strategy for sustainable businesses. Building brands people can believe in

Great brands are powerful ideas that organise businesses, inspire people and drive value. Your brand exists to contribute something truly valuable to the world.

This is your brand purpose.

What is brand purpose?

The value that you contribute is how you earn your place in the hearts and minds of your customers and consumers. Their attention, desire, engagement, preference, premiums, loyalty and advocacy, all flow from this positive impact through your brand purpose.

But in many cases this focus on value is obscured or even completely replaced by immediate commercial concerns. Rather than focusing on purposeful value creation, and letting performance and profit accrue as a consequence, many businesses focus directly and exclusively on managing-to-profit, in ways which can distract from and even contradict their long term interests, and the interests of their shareholders.


Our Brand Purpose and Positioning services:

  • Build an inspiring and differentiated understanding of your business, market opportunity and long-term needs and expectations of your stakeholders.
  • Develop brand purpose, positioning and proposition strategies that leverage your sustainability investments and uncover shared value opportunities.
  • Creatively align and evolve your organisation, innovation and communications to deliver on purpose and unlock sustainable performance.

Why develop your purpose?

The market landscapes in which brands must compete and win have evolved decisively in recent years.

The traditional tools of brand strategy and brand marketing have failed to keep pace with rising consumer consciousness, deeper scrutiny, and a broad-based decline of trust in business and institutions.

  • A recent global survey of 350,000 consumers, evaluating more than 1,800 brands, revealed that consumers ‘wouldn’t care’ if 77% of those brands were to disappear overnight*.
  • A 2020 study found that 70% of consumers take active steps to avoid advertising in their daily lives**.

The goals of brand positioning, brand strategy and brand identity are the same as they have always been: to generate and sustain customer demand, at a profit. But today, brands have to work much harder to earn their place among the few that matter.

*Havas Group Meaningful Brands 2019
**Edelman Trust Barometer 2020


You helped us answer the biggest challenge: understanding what social value creation really means, and how it is meaningfully delivered and measured.


You helped our brand find its transformational purpose.


The promise of purpose

Embracing purpose channels the enormous creativity, resources, and influence of brands to shaping a better future for people and planet.

For many business leaders and their teams, this is an exciting opportunity to discover new energy and fulfilment in their work. For the wider world, it is a source of hope that the future of brand positioning strategy could be to pursue an explicit mission of positive impact.

Thinking Differently

This means thinking differently about what brands do, and how they work.

Brands that embrace purpose, and purpose-driven action, can adapt and perform in this new reality.

Brand development could focus on the axes of business-consumer-competition, and forget the rest. Brands must embrace their social, cultural and environmental context, and make themselves accountable for their impact.
Brands were the ‘marketing bit’ of organisations. Scrutiny admits no separation between brand and business. The business model is the brand message. Everybody can see it.
Brands could buy the media, and own the message. Everybody owns the media, and nobody controls the message. Earned media is twice as influential as paid advertising**. Great purpose earns advocacy.
Brand Purpose Statistics infographic

Purpose Driven Brands

Outstanding global examples of brand purpose share some common features:

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  • They make a clear commitment to create a social, cultural or environmental benefit. In this way, their contributions accrue to the collective, or the ‘common good’, rather than the individual alone. They work on things that matter.
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  • Their purpose is true to who they are, and what they do. There are plenty of examples of lofty purposes, usually accompanied by glossy ads, that are utterly divorced from the reality of the business they are in. Great purposes focus on areas in which brands really have a stake, and really have influence. Without this, it is impossible for them to make a real difference, and credibility is stretched beyond breaking point.
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  • They focus on something their stakeholders care about. Purpose can drive business outperformance in many different ways. But this only happens if this purpose motivates and mobilises their important stakeholders: their teams, their partners, and their payers (whether consumers, customers, donors, or other). Focus on something that your stakeholders really care about, and leave the rest to others.
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  • They enact their purpose across their business models and wider value chain. Purpose is not only a marketing asset, and is certainly much more than just a message. It should harness the potential in every part of your business model and value chain to make it a reality.

Purpose should never be treated as a strapline or a slogan. It is the fundamental reason your brand will exist and should guide and inspire everything you do as a business. It is important that it is clear, direct, concrete and actionable.

relationship between brand purpose and sustainability

The relationship between brand purpose and sustainability

Brands that commit to purpose embrace a mission to make the world a better place in some important way. In doing this, they should both:

  • Focus on a singular, concrete driver of positive impact, which should usually connect with an aspect of sustainable development: whether good health and nutrition; gender equality; clean water and sanitation.
  • create higher standards of responsibility for themselves in respect of their other material topics. Embracing a purpose of redefining beauty norms for women and girls does not mean that your brand can ignore topics such as packaging waste, climate change and human rights. In fact, it makes it more important that your brand has a clear position and substantive plans to address these topics, so that you have the credibility and permission to seek change in the focus area of your purpose.

Though they are not the same thing, sustainability and purpose are therefore intimately related. To successfully build a brand with purpose always requires deep and serious engagement with sustainability and sustainable development topics.

This is where many purpose development processes fail: though well intentioned, they are considered through the lens of consumers, customers, brand positioning and marketing communications only. This often creates serious deficiencies in the way they are conceived and applied, and a failure to realise the promise and potential of purpose.

Building purpose driven brands

Anthesis brings together world-class brand strategy capabilities with a unique breadth and depth of expertise in sustainability, to help our clients build robust, impactful, high performing purpose driven brands.

This process combines analytical rigour with creative strategy, in a journey of co-discovery and articulation of brand purpose.

We then help our clients bring their brand purpose to life through their operations, strategies, products and services, communications, and wider brand experience.

Where necessary, we support client brands with robust sustainability roadmaps that underpin their purpose strategies.

Throughout, our bias and focus is on authentic positive impact, and helping our clients to unlock sustainable performance.

If you would like to know more, please get in touch

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Anthesis has offices in the U.S., Canada, UK, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, South Africa, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Andorra, Finland, Colombia, Brazil, China, Australia, Switzerland, Singapore, the Philippines and the Middle East.