A Purpose-First Approach to Growing your Brand

How a Relentless Focus on Problem-Solving Drives Better Outcomes and Fuels Success

Let’s take a quick trip back to the good ol’ days of 2013 as I share a cautionary tale with a moral that rings true for any startup, regardless of your industry. In 2013 the DOW closed at a record high of 15,548, Barak Obama was president and Apple introduced their first beacon product, the iBeacon. At the time, I was fortunate to have a front-row seat for the rollout of this new technology, working at a startup focused on location-based technologies including beacons.

Quick background: beacons are simple, small devices that act as wireless transmitters, sending signals to nearby smart phones, tablets, etc. In 2013, proximity marketing was becoming all the rage, and coupled with the capacity to gather extensive data, these clever new gadgets were the sought-after solution. By mid-2014, more than half of the top retailers in the US were testing out beacons, and hospitals and airports were installing thousands throughout their facilities. 

Unfortunately, many of the hundreds of software startups and hardware manufacturers that jumped on the beacon bandwagon got too excited about the shiny new solution and short-changed the process of fully understanding and addressing the problem the beacons set out to solve. The moral of the story? By short-changing the process of understanding the audience’s needs, behaviors, concerns, barriers to adoption and product market fit, the beacon boom was a big bust for most startups in the space.

By short-changing the process of understanding the audience’s needs, behaviors, concerns, barriers to adoption and product market fit, the beacon boom was a big bust for most startups.

We’ve all been guilty of getting overly enthusiastic about a potential solution and losing sight of whether it truly solves a problem or has a real market fit. Remember how excited the world got about the Segway Scooter? 3D TVs? Just think of how many smart, successful, savvy people fell hard for Theranos.  

As storytellers and communications strategists, we constantly fact check ourselves on this impulse too; it’s so easy to fall in love with a solution. When we work with our clients, we strive to understand their unique innovation. More importantly, we seek out the stories and proof points that not only clearly articulate the value of the solution but also demonstrate and validate how it addresses current, tangible market needs or opportunities, and is purpose-built to stay relevant and high-value as the market evolves.

A benefit to this empathy-driven approach is that the brand story becomes about the user, the customer, the beneficiary of your innovation. As a result, the stories, language, tone, and overall messaging will resonate on a more personal, impactful level with the audiences you are trying to reach. This helps:

  • Guide creation of owned content that is relevant
  • Lead to more high-value media coverage
  • Increase our success in placing our clients as speakers at strategic events

We find it also helps our clients ensure that they stay focused on their purpose, not get distracted by shiny newness.

Fast forward seven years and things are looking better for the beacon market, which is forecasted to exceed $25 billion in the next few years. But today there is a far greater understanding of the audience, market fit and problems it can best solve. Just imagine if these critical considerations had been addressed early on.

If we can help you define, articulate and amplify your purpose-driven brand story to grow your business, please reach out. We’d love to help.

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