Creating A Compelling Purpose Statement
Purpose is the lynchpin for building an engaging and lasting brand or culture; and every business needs one.
What is a purpose? It is a statement that explains why your business exists — not what you do or how you do it. A purpose statement clearly alludes to a wrong you want to right in the world. And by aligning all of your organization’s decision making, communications and experiences with your purpose, you can give greater meaning and value to your work, and forge more meaningful connections with all stakeholders.
In order for Purpose to work its magic, it must be compelling. That way, it attracts attention and inspires action everyday. With a compelling purpose, we can breathe life into our organizations and energize them towards accomplishing big things in the world.
A Compelling Purpose Statement is Concise
Lengthy purpose statements may encapsulate all a business hopes to accomplish, but don’t activate others well. Often, these lengthy statements focus on outcomes or what a business does. Usually, this is just fluff surrounding the meaty core of a true purpose. To get to that pithy statement, we recommend striving to make it one sentence, and, if you can, no more than six words. This limiter gets you into the mindset of cutting out the chaff, and ensuring your statement clearly states what you are here to do — making it compelling each time it is shared with a stakeholder of your organization.
A Compelling Purpose Statement is Impassioned
Every purpose statement should use strong language! Put your stake in the ground of what you seek to do in the world. Don’t shy away because the words feel too aspirational or don’t describe what you’re doing today. Remember: purpose is about “why” over “what.” Use strong verbs and clear language to really build up that “why.” We suggest checking for whether your statements are hitting the mark intention-wise, and then really go in with a scalpel on the language. With the correct wording, you can inspire and uplift with ease, making the statement a useful, everyday tool, instead of something that falls flat on paper.
A Compelling Purpose Statement is Relatable
A compelling purpose statement roots into a deeply human or global issue. As such, a purpose statement is not about just shareholders or customers, but everyone. The entire world is your playground with purpose, so the statement should appeal to any person, anywhere. Even if your work is focused locally, a global purpose statement gives the meaning of your work a boost, because you are part of contributing to something greater. This is incredibly compelling for employees who want to know that their interactions with you matter beyond their daily work. And making the statement as broadly relatable as possible gives every stakeholder the ability to see how they can, and do, play a role in your noble pursuit of purpose.
A Few Examples of Compelling Purpose Statements
Creating a concise, impassioned and relatable purpose statement isn’t easy, but plenty of companies have managed to do it with great success. Here are a few examples for you to see what we mean, and to inspire you to distill a compelling purpose statement of your own.
- Zappos: To live and deliver WOW
- BP: To reimagine energy
- Whole Foods: To nourish people and the planet
- Expedia: To bring the world within reach
- Harley-Davidson: To fulfill dreams of personal freedom
- EY: To build a better working world
When your purpose statement is written in the way we’ve outlined, it becomes a vibrant intention for every person that interacts with your organization to latch onto. With this firm and fresh statement as your guide, you can make a real impact on the world, and find growth and expansion for your business at the same time.
The only way to get to this kind of a statement is by having new and different types of conversations about what your organization stands for and what it finds important. In our Focus Process, we help our clients have these kinds of interactions to devise new Foundational Statements with Purpose at the center.
Interested in learning more about this process?
Savage Brands believes in unleashing the good inherent within all organizations. Business results are driven by connecting with people at the belief level. That’s why we align everything a company says and does with its Purpose through a proven process that links strategy and execution with “why.” We solve the challenges corporate America faces by building tribal loyalty from the inside out, focusing on people first to deliver authentic brand experiences. Savage builds purposeful brands, communications, leaders and cultures.