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Understanding Purpose

Updated: Jun 20, 2021

Latest buzz word that is making news during this pandemic is corporate purpose. How well do we know about it? Let us take the journey as we embark on a purpose-aware world.


Last year has been challenging for all, and by now we realise that this year might not be any different either but a matter of concern is the length of time that will be lost in navigating through these times. Although, we might not be able to predict the how, why and when of a pandemic, we can surely circumvent to better shores and emerge resilient with an infallible goal.

What could be an infallible goal - a goal that never diminishes over time? These days when external influences are not promising, it is no surprise that goals have had a rather less motivating run. And while motivating oneself towards the goal gets tough, it is good to make sure that the goal is equally motivating.

Zig Ziglar, a motivational speaker once said, “People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing – that's why we recommend it daily.”

This is where an infallible goal comes handy, a perfect formula for lasting motivation. So what is the secret behind such a goal? An important understanding of an infallible goal is that it is synonymous with purpose. Whether it is for individuals, businesses, nations or the world at large, purpose is integral for every entity. Like the Sun in the solar system, whichever trajectory you choose, you never lose sight of your purpose.

Unexpected times and age-old elixir

While purpose in layman terms is that intention which motivates one to do a specific task, it often remains unnoticed. Many of the greatest minds have kept the momentum on despite challenges as their mission was purpose-driven. Be it Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Thomas Edison, Martin Luther King or Edward Jenner, history is witness to a number of such purpose-driven people who are celebrated even today.

So, how does purpose fit into a business domain? We know how there is a growing demand for brands to be responsible and take an active role in contributing to the society. This act of ‘doing good’ has recently snowballed into greater prominence trigger pressed by a pandemic.

From ESG proposition to pandemic related efforts, number of approaches are increasingly employed to propel a theme of responsible brand. No doubt, stepping up ESG compliance or being part of Covid-19 response efforts are necessary, but does that translate to letter and spirit inclusion of a mindful brand? Plus, having no consistency or a clear-cut strategy in place can prove counter-productive. A simple example would be of a brand that is altruistically involved in community Covid-vaccinations but not following similar benevolence towards their own staff.

Interestingly, businesses have different rationale behind contributing to the society. Factincenz did a quick research to find out that there are at least five patterns, stated as following:

  1. Random Philanthropy – A spontaneous act of charity keeping in mind the present situation.

  2. Fear of losing the brand image– A brand cannot remain to be conspicuous in absence when a majority in the market are doing something for the community.

  3. Ceremonial Practice – The rest are doing, so we adopt a similar standard practice.

  4. Visible in-kind Donations – A visible marketing opportunity and charity combined.

  5. One’s own Values – Contribution to the society aligned with consistent brand values and principles.

Although rare, it is no surprise that the fifth rationale rewards both the society and the brand in the long-run. Even then, any of the above-mentioned contribution is rather an afterthought exercise. Some would argue, after all, businesses have profits to take care of, why would they get into the nitty-gritties of ‘doing good’? We would argue – Any corporate philanthropy is also an investment. Why would brands deny themselves any return on investment? This is the point where we must outline the difference between the act of ‘doing good’ from ‘being good’.

‘Doing good’ or ‘Being Good’

These are two terms that are often confused with each other or worse, not many discern the difference. At Factincenz, we call it a de-facto vs post-facto practice. The difference is straightforward - ‘Doing good’ is about contributing to the society directly, either by way of donations, in-kind support or CSR as is known in many organizations. Simply put, a post-facto practice. Meanwhile, ‘being good’ is about living up to brand’s own mission, vision and values across employees, consumers and thus, by virtue of a positive spill-over effect, to the society as well. In other words, a de-facto practice.

Why ‘being good’ is pivotal to a brand ‘doing good’?

First one is simple and proverbial - Charity begins at home. Any act of responsibility cannot happen in isolation, the ethos of the brand is the sum total of brand’s conduct towards its employees, consumers and socio-environmental concerns.

Second - Two sides of the same coin - Solely when a brand corrects the ‘being good’ part will the ‘doing good’ have any meaning. Also, any contradiction between the two has a fair chance of being blown out of proportion, thanks to social media.

Third – Smart audience, Smarter choice - The world we know is increasingly gravitating towards responsible brands. Gone are the days when consumers, both existing and prospective ones, could not differentiate between PR and a genuine effort.

If an ingenious execution of ‘being good’ and ‘doing good’ sound too complicated, there is an effortless all-in-one formula that we talked about in the beginning, called purpose.

One purpose is worth thousand brands

Purpose is a built-in force of an organization which subsumes business strategy, marketing and HR. And what makes it standout is that it is unique to every organization and not run-off-the-mill unlike what is being practiced all over the world. Many businesses confound purpose with their direct business objectives. For example- If a sanitizer brand XYZ thinks their brand purpose is to sanitize the world, they have indeed missed the concept of purpose. Their business objective is to sanitize the world, not their purpose.

So then, what is purpose built on? We recommend you stay tuned for Factincenz Desk for more. But for now, whoever you are reading this article as - an individual, employee, entrepreneur or a Corporate Head, Zig Ziglar’s words on equating motivation to bathing daily is not for you if you or your organization is purpose-driven. The question is, however, are you?


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