IS YOUR PURPOSE DIVISIVE?

Your purpose will inherently affect people. That’s the entire point—to transform the lives of others during your time on this planet. But, connecting your purpose to your unique brand story (and then applying it) can take a leap of faith. It can be divisive. By its nature, it’s going to polarize people and force them to make their own decisions about how they feel about you and what they stand for. This leap of faith can be scary, and it’s something we talk a lot about at our agency.

But, the leap is also incredibly important. Take my purpose, for example. I believe that God has designed me to help others uncover their purpose and build their life on it. Just mentioning God in that statement is going to alienate some people. It will draw in others as well. But, most importantly, it’s the truth and, as a very wise man once said, “The truth will set you free.”
So, I wanted to take a minute to talk about this conundrum. If you’re feeling hesitant to go all-in on a purpose-driven approach to business, you’re not alone. But, let’s discuss a few reasons why a polarizing purpose isn’t necessarily a bad thing for your business. 

IT ALIGNS EMPLOYEES
Once you’ve established your business’ purpose, you’ve drawn a line in the sand. This is extremely important for how you attract, inspire, and manage with your own team internally. It doesn’t matter what you believe if your employees aren’t on the same page. But, now you know, and that’s half the battle.

So, now that you’ve stated your purpose, your employees can start to make their own decisions. They’ll either align themselves with your purpose or opt-out. And, your managers can use them as guidance in peer reviews, which will inherently make the “sore thumbs” stand out. Nothing ignites business growth faster than a unified workforce. And, by stating your purpose clearly and boldly, you’ll be taking the first step towards bringing your team together.

MARKETING THAT MATTERS
Beyond distilling your employees, a divisive purpose will also distill your customer base. Take USAA, for example. They clearly state that they exist to serve military families. By making that statement, they’ve done so much by just being open and honest. If you’re not in a military family, USAA is not for you. Really, they’ve done a service to everyone by clearly stating who they serve and who they don’t serve.

Plus, from a marketing standpoint, once you know your purpose internally, you can really start to hone in on a target audience. You can start to use metrics and messaging that connect with the people who want to buy into your purpose, which will make your marketing dollars go a whole lot further. 

PEOPLE WANT HONESTY
If you’re worried about making a bold statement about your purpose, just think about this: People crave honesty. Even if your honesty doesn’t align with their beliefs, or is tough to handle, it’s still better than not getting the truth. Especially in a business world where there’s so much noise, it’s going to be refreshing for people to hear authentic communication.

So, if you think your purpose is going to offend some people, that’s ok. Like I mentioned earlier, just by stating that God is the driving force behind my purpose I’m going to turn some people away. But, I’m also drawing in more like-minded people than I ever did before I changed the conversation. Ultimately, you want to have a conversation with your customers and potential customers. How can you do that if you’re not being forthright?

YOU’RE IN CONTROL
Like it or not, customers are going to assign a purpose to you if you don’t tell them what it is, and you may not like what they choose. They’ll most likely assign less meaningful things like price or features, which are transactional and less likely to create true brand loyalty.  But, when you clearly state your purpose and follow it, you’re in the driver’s seat for your business. You’re leading the decision-making conversation, and inviting your audience to make that decision based on what matters most instead of transactional things.

By being open about your purpose, you’re taking charge of the conversation. And, the way you communicate your purpose is completely up to you, as well. Chick-Fil-A, for example, is a faith-based organization, but they don’t lead with it on their homepage. Their values and purpose simply guide their path. Once you know your purpose, it’s your choice as to how you’ll follow it. 

Hopefully, this can ease your fears. As I said before, it’s not always easy making a bold statement for your business. But, once you do, you’ll immediately start to notice changes happening. That’s the incredible part of the truth. It creates energy. It will start a snowball effect for everything in your life; you just have to give it the first push.

Aaron McClung is the founder and principal of AM, a full-service branding, marketing, and technology firm in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Its proprietary Ovrflo™ process helps businesses discover the why behind their what.