What’s the point in Purpose?

Ask any of my team, or colleagues across our business for that matter, and many of them will tell you I’m slightly obsessed with Purpose. It’s become a bit of a passion of mine since starting to look into why it matters back in 2019. And since re-articulating our firm’s Purpose in 2020, it’s been the backbone of our business’ strategy, let alone marketing strategy.

So why the obsession? It all started with a review of our people and culture strategy. We’ve always been a business driven by doing the right thing, for our people, clients and wider society. At Hymans Robertson, our four values - friendly, partnering, straightforward and confident - have always been crucial to our culture and known by everyone in our business. We acted purposefully and had a mission statement. The problem was nobody could tell you exactly what that was. Pose the question and you’d inevitably get some ‘hmmms’ and ‘ummmms’, sometimes pure tumbleweed moments, sometimes a variation of the words on the page, but never a confident, consistent answer from one person to the next.

This was a problem as the more I explored, the more benefits there are to having a clear, common Purpose, shared by everyone within an organisation. From attracting and retaining the best talent, building meaningful relationships with loyal clients to creating competitive advantage in the market. Research has proven that companies with a clear Purpose outperform those who focus on short term gains – I’d highly recommend Simon Sinek’s The Infinite Game for those who still need a bit of convincing!

Defining Purpose

So, there are clear benefits to Purpose, but how do you go about defining it? At my session at Ignite London, I’ll share the process we went through, but here are some tips as to what makes a good Purpose:

  • It needs to offer ‘perpetual stretch’ – which means it should be aspirational, pushing the organisation and employees forwards, not just a short term goal.
  • It should combine the emotional and rational – without a pinch of emotion, your purpose will struggle to inspire employees to embrace it as their own.
  • Be short and simple, using plain language – so it’s easy to remember (and avoids those tumbleweed moments!).
  • Tangible enough for employees to make it their own.

We found this a brilliant litmus test when exploring various articulations.

Living up to your Purpose

During my swotting up, one statement really struck a chord with me - ‘where values act as our behavioural compass, purpose is our philosophical heartbeat’. Purpose is the why we’re in business, the what gets everyone out of bed every day to come in and give their best. And in terms of communicating that Purpose to the outside world, it’s becoming increasingly important in attracting clients and talent, as both clients and candidates place ever-increasing importance on the role organisations play in making a positive impact on the wider world around them.  

At my session at Ignite, I’ll talk more about the importance of proving that your Purpose is genuine and authentic and share some of the ways we used turning 100 at Hymans to showcase the various ways we live up to our Purpose. From the culture we’re creating within our organisation for our employees, the focus on creating better financial futures for our clients and their people, to the positive impact we want to have on our wider communities and the environment.  

I’m really looking forward to Ignite returning as a physical event this year, there’s always an amazing selection of sessions and speakers, and getting the chance to chat to other marketers is invaluable. I’d love to hear from others about how they’re approaching Brand Purpose within their organisations, or happy to chat to anyone who’s wondering how this applies to their business. Feel free to drop me a line if you’d like to chat over coffee on the day!

Want to learn more about transforming your marketing?

Attend Ignite London, the UK’s leading hybrid conference on all things B2B on 6 July. With six streams laser-focused on solving your challenges, there’s something for the entire team. You’ll leave with actionable insight from the best in business to re-ignite your marketing the next day!

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Ignite London