For a lot of folks, this is the most problematic part of this whole experience. It seems gratuitous, even gimmicky, to talk about “purpose” when you could be focused on acquiring customers. I beg you humor me, though, because defining your purpose might be the single most important piece of this entire process.
Put simply, your purpose is the reason you do what you do. Now, you might read that last sentence and think: “Easy — My purpose is to make money.” That would be a mistake. We all want to make money, of course, but I’m talking here about something deeper. Your purpose should be universal enough to inspire your team, your customers and the world at large — not just you.
Is this necessary, though? Aren’t there plenty of companies out there who are doing just fine without a purpose? Absolutely. But I’m guessing you’d like to do more than “just fine.” Today, more than ever, the brands that excel are those that succeed in creating a community, a tribe of people united by common purpose. Brands like this have their own momentum. They command a premium place in the market, and they have staying power.
So how do you go about identifying your purpose? Glad you asked.
The Golden Circle
To hone in on your what makes you tick, we’re going to borrow the concept of the “Golden Circle” from Simon Sinek, author of the best-selling book “Start With Why.” If you want to dive deeper into the thinking behind his method, check out the video below. Or, if you’re in a hurry, just skip ahead.
Work with your team to brainstorm responses for the following prompts, using the table below. Give yourselves five minutes for each point, coming up with as many ideas as possible. At the end of the exercise, vote on your favorite ideas, and discuss.
What — What products or services do you offer?
How — What are the values, actions or principles that set you apart from similar brands?
Why — Why do you do what you do? This is where you’ll need to dig deep, connecting your work to some larger impact.
📝 Exercise 1
Contribution and Impact
Now that we’ve established your why, it’s time to get granular. Work with your team to brainstorm responses for the following prompts, using the table below. Give yourselves five minutes for each point, coming up with as many ideas as possible. At the end of the exercise, vote on your favorite ideas, and discuss.
Contribution — Think of specific times when you’ve felt proud to do your work. What specific action did you take that contributed something of value to the lives of others? We want to distill these experiences down to three contribution statements.
Impact — Now, ask yourself: What did my contributions allow others to do or to become? How were their lives different after they interacted with me? We want to identify at least three impact statements.
📝 Exercise 2
Now that we know what your contributions and impact are, try your hand at drafting a purpose statement. This statement will combine your primary contribution with your primary impact, like so:
[Contribution statement], so that [impact statement].
Now, you give it a try. Brainstorm some ideas using the table below. At the conclusion of the exercise, identify your favorite option and add it to your brand profile.