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Defining a brand’s purpose

We discussed brand purpose insights with representatives from some of the UK’s largest brands, at an event in partnership with PR Moment.

We discussed brand purpose insights with representatives from some of the UK’s largest brands, at an event in partnership with PR Moment.

After a busy Thursday morning for us where we announced that consumer agency Lexis is joining our team in London, we hosted an event in partnership with PR Moment in the evening. It looked at how to define your brand purpose whilst also giving us a chance to toast to the earlier news!

We heard from some of the biggest brands in the world including M&S, BMW, Ladbrokes & Coral. So we thought we’d package up their answers and give you the headline news. We’ve even put together a video for you too, short and sweet we promise!

The impact of a CEO on your brand purpose

Tania Littlehales, Head of Product PR, Marks and Spencer

Steve Rowe made headlines for his statement ‘we will never sell gold hot pants again’. This was a reflection on where M&S is heading: focussing on contemporary style, rather than chasing fashion trends.

Steve has his team thinking about the customer again. It is easy to lose sight of who the customer is when you just look at the numbers, so M&S staff are spending more time on the shop floor because it’s important to see who is walking through the shop door.

How has this impacted the PR team?

‘We could get more coverage than we usually get but we want to be selective of who we choose’

The reason for this? Because this is where their readers are. Every action at M&S is made with the end customer in mind, so coverage that won’t be seen by Marks and Spencer’s target audience is largely irrelevant to the brands purpose.

Why is this so interesting? ‘A piece of press coverage will have a direct impact on sales’. So the placement of press and who sees it, requires thought and if necessary, restraint.  Sometimes, less is more.

Shifting the brand purpose of BMW

Graham Biggs, Corporate Communications Director, BMW

Ok so here is a statement for you… ‘In 10 years time you will be able to go to sleep whilst you’re driving’…Ah, yes autonomous driving scares us all.

BMW’s purpose is to be ‘the world’s leading provider of premium mobility and a tech company. Moving away from being a car manufacturer to becoming a tech company’.

The car world is set to change more in the next 10 years, than it has in the previous 50 years. So how will this impact BMW’s brand purpose. Or as Graham put it, how will the car of tomorrow still look “BMW-y”? As the most valuable car brand in the world, BMW has a large part to play in this conversation.

Shifting responsibilities – what are the big challenges?

  • Did you know 70% of the world will be in cities? So where do you park? What happens if people no longer learn to drive?
  • Car-sharing is on the rise. People want to share a car – but how do you make them want to share a BMW car? Which is why ReachNow is so interesting… (Think, AirBNB but for cars).
  • And the big one, autonomous driving. Manufacturers have to help users overcome their fear of losing control.

5 stages to this process

  • No Assistance – Humans doing all the work
  • Feet off- cruise control
  • Hands off – partially automated – Lane control (this is where we are now)
  • Eyes off – highly automated. Maybe watch a film? But note… you might hear a buzzer asking you to take over. And this wouldn’t be in central London (much more difficult)
  • Mind off- fully automated –You’ll be able to go to sleep. Which seems scary, right? But by then this step will feel a logical progression.

Whilst all eyes are on the future, as Graham mentioned ‘it is important to understand the history of a brand’ because this will help the decision-making moving forward.

Purpose or bust: why you need one and what to do with it

Toby Conlon, Head of Corporate, Text100

Fresh from the news that Toby Conlon is joining the Text100 leadership team as head of corporate reputation, the audience heard about why you need a purpose and what to do with it.

Don’t just think about what your customers will think. Even more important is how it helps you engage your people and encourage the right behaviours. Imagine your whole workforce, all bought into the same single vision and striving towards it. A powerful driver of productivity…

When defining a purpose look past your products and services. Your purpose isn’t delivering great products, or amazing customer experience. That’s just your operations, and marketing. What’s the higher purpose? For Patagonia it’s helping solve the environmental crisis…

Not sure what your purpose is? You probably already have one. Ask your employees what they think it is, or go right back to why your company was founded. The answer might be right there.

Then, when you’ve defined it, translate it into a set of everyday behaviours – for everyone from accountants, to factory workers, to leadership.

And if you get it right? It can be a framework for decision-making as well as recruitment and development.

Final word of advice: It’s not easy. Stick with it. You’ll be rewarded in the end. 

Does the merger of Ladbrokes and Coral create a betting super-brand?

David Williams, Media Relations Director, Ladbrokes

We heard from David Williams who spoke about his “beloved” Ladbrokes and its merger with Coral.

It sounds simple but you need to understand what your brand means to your target audience.

Take these betting companies as an example of how they resonate with their target audience:

  • William Hill – ‘own’ the “Home of Betting”
  • Skybet – football & Sky Sports
  • bet365 – technology, omnipresent, scale and the myth of £3.65
  • Betfair – value, scale/liquidity
  • Paddy Power – fun, fair, friendly. A marketing model based around ‘Good ideas = good and bad ideas = good!’

So what is the difference between Ladbrokes and Coral? Exactly… It’s hard to distinguish because they have very similar target audiences, meaning a merger made sense.

And finally, how do you combat brand toxicity?

This is a big one in the betting industry. First, establish between industry toxicity and brand toxicity and then adopt a face-based, transparent and proactive approach. Examples included Public affairs and community engagement programmes.

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