All good things come in threes

Why we need the trinity of Purpose, Proposition and Performance.

Purpose is on everyone's lips today. In most cases, this is a good thing, because people today increasingly want to know why brands do what they do. Airbnb responds as follows: “Creating a world where anyone can belong anywhere.” The company therefore has a clear stance. This has power. It moves the brand forward. The problem is when purpose is used inflationarily in the zeitgeist and the normative foundation degenerates into a creative concept for the next campaign.

Performance pressure dominates

At the same time, all brands are under increasing pressure to perform, and performance rightly determines success and failure - from advertising to content marketing to PR. On more and more channels. For more and more target groups. With smaller and smaller budgets. But this hunt for KPls also tempts one to subordinate all action to performance. The overriding goal of a clear brand image is lost.

Poles drifting apart

The two poles of purpose and performance are drifting further and further apart. In this unhealthy balancing act, a fundamental instrument of brand management is being forgotten. In addition to purpose, the value-based foundation for the entire company, and performance, the key figures for leadership ability, the questions posed are: What can I do particularly well? What value do I create for my customers? What differentiates me from others on the market? The answer to this is the value proposition. This is the actual value of the service. It is what makes the difference and leads to real value creation. It is the driving force for performance.

Focus on value proposition

Credibility and alignment give the value proposition a precise and therefore powerful purpose. It serves as a guiding star for the brand and provides orientation. It is a long-term driver and creates identity, cohesion and direction for people and companies. In this way, Disney's "to make people happy" acts as a strong constant across numerous business areas - right up to the successful diversification with Disney+.

Many misunderstandings

A look at the current debates on purpose and performance reveals misunderstandings. And it becomes clear that attitude is not (only) brand communication, but above all value-oriented corporate management. It is time for purpose to be allowed to fully play its true role as a provider of entrepreneurial direction in complex times. It is time for performance to again become the benchmark, not the motivation, for value creation. And it is time for value proposition to again highlight advantages and differentiate on the market.

Originally published in M&K, October 2021