In defence of brand purpose

‘Brand purpose’ that goes no further than the marketing department has been rightly criticised, says Max Ottignon. But a purpose that extends across a whole organisation is vital to a successful brand

Brand purpose has come in for some criticism recently. Nick Asbury wrote a fantastic article for CR asking ‘is this the end of brand purpose?’, citing campaigns of varying degrees of clunkiness from Pepsi, Heineken, Dove and McDonalds as the final nails in the coffin. Patrick Burgoyne followed it up with an evisceration of a new Cadbury’s campaign that attempts to convince consumers of its philanthropic ideology.

The key word here is ‘campaign’. I believe that brand purpose is more fundamental than it has ever been. But if it’s conceived as a communications campaign, it isn’t a purpose in any meaningful sense. And people are likely to see right through it.