It seems like right now, in the no-longer-pre-COVID world, a lot of organizations find themselves caught off guard, their best-laid plans coming undone. It’s impossible to find a map for a road nobody has yet traveled. Let’s be honest, there was enough uncertainty in the world four months ago, and now the fog has grown thick beyond anyone’s most rational imagining. When the world changes around us, out of our control, it’s not enough to just ask “how should we continue to work”. In order to exist with any meaning or relevance, as brands, and as individuals, we need to ask “what can we do about it directly, within our own brand”.
We need to act with purpose.
Purpose is a clear intent that gives us the direction to find our way, and signposts for the right action, especially when there is no path to follow. With purpose, we have the foundation to try new things and instantly see if they’re right and working. To rapidly innovate, even down to the core of a business. If we have a clear purpose, we have a clear, single-box, checklist that gives us the ability to sense check every decision.
Especially now, consumers want to do business with companies that clearly do good. The best brands are always working to position themselves as leaders with purpose, spearheading the way through these insane times and on to a better tomorrow. To stand out authentically as worth our relationship, brands need to be doing something useful for us in the world.
Even if they weather the storm, and continue operating on the other side, brands are likely to be judged for a long time by how they behave and communicate through these times. Action speaks louder than words, but it must be real action. It must result in a better world. We’re at a point in our culture where the way an employer treats their employees resonates a thousand times more than clever communication.
For any organization, this moment in our history is an opportunity to show good morals (and definitely get good PR), to take care of their employees first, and reach out honestly to help their customers. If companies react in superficial ways, now more than ever, it’s at their own peril. Today’s brand images will be long term and bad memories have a habit of sticking around in customers’ minds.
The way for brands to act now is to look at what they do, look at what they believe in and then find their own way to energize positive change, deliver mitigation, and help in the face of crisis. Think of the hundreds of clothing manufacturers around the world who quickly shifted their production to relevance, producing masks and other PPE to donate to healthcare workers.
Think of Tito’s in Austin Texas, who among scores of other distillers, also shifted their production to relevance, pivoting from handmade vodka to make hand sanitizer for the frontline effort against the pandemic. Tito’s already has a long history of acting with purpose, of supporting the service industry who support them and giving back to the communities they exist in. Tito Beverige, the company’s founder has often said:
“We are a philanthropic company that just sells vodka on the side.
Today, they are a great example of a brand pivoting quickly to double down on their purpose. Innovating to solve a real problem facing the globe today – a lack of sanitizer in healthcare during COVID-19 – all while continuing to do good business. They’re a company that understands they don’t have to save the world to do a much good in it, so reaching out to contribute direct financial help to organizations supporting the millions of affected people in the service industry aligned perfectly with their intent: “Turning Spirits into Love & Goodness”.
Purpose is way more than just a nice-to-have high-level statement you tuck in the annual report. It’s a reason for being, not just for you, but for your customers too.
Purpose is the living answer to a one question checklist: “As a company, are we doing what we say we believe in to do good things in the world?”
If the box checked is yes, If you have a clear purpose, then now is the time, more than ever, to double-down. Dig deep, live that purpose, and leverage it to energize positive change in people, brands and organizations.
If that purpose isn’t clear, and the box checked is no – maybe, as a brand you don’t really know what you believe in, you don’t have a driving force, or true reason for being other than accumulating profit in an easy world – then any clear path through the fog is sure to remain uncertain. The world has changed.
Now is the time to do the work and put purpose first. Now is the time to understand that purpose brings more than just good feelings, purpose brings concrete value and opportunity too.
Take another example: Open Table. In the face of COVID-19, restaurants are simply not taking reservations for the foreseeable future – a potentially business ending situation for a company whose key product is a reservation app. Instead, they found value by reassessing their purpose, to come up with an entirely new offering designed to meet the challenges of today, with a new product to help grocery stores and retailers do business better and safer right now.
Open Table’s new grocery product repurposes their reservation software so that grocery stores, major retailers, and restaurants can display available shopping times for customers to book in advance, or join a waitlist at the door. This helps control crowds in a simple and contactless way, but it also provides a safer option for shoppers, especially those at high risk, to get their groceries without waiting in a crowded line.
Open Table has completely reimagined where they can deliver value into the lives of their partners and their customers, and continue to support the businesses that keep them operating.
How do you intend to add something better into the lives your brand connects with? It’s a process, and it takes effort, but if you’re ready to discover, define and articulate your purpose, then you’re ready to shift to relevance amidst doubt and move into an uncertain future with confidence.
Don’t miss our FREE webinar, 4/24 at 12:00 EST, discussing how forced evolution is the impetus we need for positive growth. We’ll examine how difficult times let us strip away the baggage, and energizing positive change becomes more important than ever.
This webinar will focus on Executive Chef Chad Rosenthal of The Lucky Well, a purpose driven restaurant organization that is navigating a chaotic marketplace by putting people at the center of all evolutionary business decisions.Learn more & register