No Time To Lie – why bonds and purpose are key to brand value

This month the world finally gets the chance to see the long awaited next instalment in the Bond franchise, when No Time To Die is finally released.

There’s a lot of brand loyalty out there for James Bond – a man with purpose and whose name is a good as his word.

Another man on a mission is James Clifton, CEO of The MISSION Group, who explains here why brand purpose and bonds are also key to a brand’s value…

James Clifton, group ceo The MISSION Group - mediashotz
Clifton, James Clifton, Group CEO The MISSION Group

At MISSION Group, we have long been advocates of Brand Purpose as an organising rationale for our clients. 

Recently, we’ve seen some new Purpose evangelists join our ranks. The Worldwide Economic Forum (the Davos folks), the UK Institute of Directors and the US Business Roundtable all now advocate a broader stakeholder definition of business rather than just a shareholder perspective. 

It’s not just altruism, it’s a deep-seated conviction that Purpose drives brand value.

And as with everything, this stakeholder capitalism needs to be viewed through the post Covid lens. The pandemic has already tested our patience, focus, motivations. It could be testing our allegiances too. 

The proof 

An expansive multi region study released by US-based Zeno Group, shows global consumers four to six times more likely to trust, buy, and champion companies with a strong Purpose. 

But here’s the nub. Consumers see through claims, and actions. While 94% of consumers believed a strong Purpose important, only 37% felt companies had a clear and strong one. 

A key factor in delivering Purpose credibly was a leader walking the talk, not just paying lip service to it. Leaders need to embody a brand’s purpose personally and communicate that fervour throughout the organisation. Think Sir Richard Branson or Elon Musk, personally living the brand’s ethos publicly.

brands in space - moonrocker Sir Richard Branson - mediashotz
Moonrocker: Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson has infused his brand with his own values so deeply they’re out of this world.

But you can’t just let the boss do all the heavy lifting. Purpose needs to bleed through your entire organisation and culture. From supply chain management to the hiring policy. From R&D to packaging. 

And the same principle applies to every touchpoint on the customer experience journey. You’re only ever as good as your weakest link, so you need to ensure everyone, everywhere is delivering the Brand Purpose 24/7. 

Think of Purpose as the magnet that gets all the iron filings facing the same way.

Let’s look at how to get this right, and where it’s gone wrong. 

Brewdog has had a phenomenal rise to prominence, expanding at pace across the country. But in June this year its failure to address its weakest links resulting in an open letter from staff calling out a ‘toxic’ culture. 

This is a lesson to businesses of all sizes in ensuring every facet of your organisation is facing the same way. 

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Spectre of fear: Brewdog’s brand value was damaged by former staff allegations of a culture of fear.

My favourite example of doing just that is the Ritz Carlton hotel group where “the genuine care and comfort of our guests is our highest mission”. 

Every single employee is empowered to spend up to $2,000 to create a wow moment or resolve an incident for a guest without asking for approval. Every single one. That’s Purpose made tangible.

ritz carlton - mediashotz
For Your Eyes Only: Ritz Carlton empowers staff to wow guests in purpose made tangible.

Tempted to take a short cut to signal Purpose, brands can resort to social media to champion a new initiative, but, if what’s behind the curtain is way off target, social media can prove fatal. 

Customers have a knack of dragging it into the light, where social media only amplifies the pain. I refer you again to Brewdog and its ‘gold’ can. Ideally, communications should follow Purpose deliverables: Do then Tell, not the other way round.

Customer displeasure can be brutal: 76% of consumers have taken punitive action against a brand that they have disagreed with. 

In June this year the fashion brand BooHoo attracted controversy for ignoring poor working conditions in its supply chain. In wake of its reputational recovery, just this month the brand has been slammed on socials for a lack of diversity after sharing an image of more than a dozen white interns. 

Customers notice; and they don’t forget.  

Brand bonds

There is still a variable missing in the equation that translates Brand Purpose into Brand Value. And that is Brand Bonds.

At MISSION Group, we help brands create and nurture bonds with consumers, through their CX, customer service, identity, communications and, of course, through their Purpose. 

These bonds are the levers driving continued commercial results, they’re the mechanism by which manifests as tangible value. 

A bond can be as simple as a latent preference for Coke over Pepsi, or as deep as driving an extra ten miles to shop at a Whole Foods. 

A bond can be the feeling of comfort you get trusting your healthcare to BUPA or the thrill of going back to a Disney resort for your family vacation, despite the premium asked.  

It’s worth brand managers spending time really thinking about how to craft these brand bonds, develop them and leverage them to make your brand even stronger. 

In the post pandemic world, customers are making different buying choices, most notably, their habitual loyalty to brands has been tested. 

It is therefore now even more imperative that businesses understand how to turn Brand Purpose into real Brand Value, through the medium of brand bonds. 

When that understanding is practically implemented, the future is even more valuable.