Recently, while working closely with a startup help build their brand, a series of interesting revelations about the company and business model came to light. In one of the exercises, we sought to help define the brand purpose. The brand purpose; for those new to the concept, is an idea in branding which aims at helping brands define what they stand for and their place in the world. It has largely been inspired by this interesting talk by Simon Sinek:
But here’s what most I find most organisations, or branding exercises miss out on when trying to define their purpose: They build their ‘Why’ independently of their ‘How’
I find that the brand’s purpose or reason to be is not authentic, honest or real if it is not reflected in how you do things. If your brand’s place in the world is completely different from your competition, then certainly you would be doing something different from your competition too, wouldn’t you? So why then, would you stop your brand idea at the ‘Why’? A lot of new successful brands actually have an interesting business model at their heart, but fail to bring this to light.
AirBnB, I find, is a brand that’s doing this right. The AirBnB is brand created around the idea of belonging:
But without its business model, and the true nature of what the company delivers, this idea is nothing but an empty brand purpose without meaning of tangible delivery.
I find that startups would find success if they define their purpose: this helps align the team to a greater objective, instead of being lost with the many operational nightmares of the startup life. But at the same time, they must look at linking this closely with how they actually do things, and a unique and differentiated business model is a great way to make this authentic and tangible.