A strong Purpose is usually underpinned by three key dimensions, which ensure it is sufficiently elevated and universal – but, equally, focused and credible.
In essence, a brand pursues an Ethos by playing a certain Role in a given Field. If the Ethos gives the Purpose height and breadth, the Field and Role provide focus and credibility.
These dimensions help unpack and guide the conversation around Purpose – and develop a well thought through one.
What is the single irrefutable truth at the heart of the purpose? Fairness? Progress? Equity? Justice? What is the needle that the organisation aspires to move? What is the wrong it wants to right?
This defines the single ethical conviction that is dearest to its leadership. If it were for the organisation, what would the world be more like?
An important source for this is given by the UNDP 17 Sustainable Development Goals – what are we credibly focusing on? Remember, no one can seriously be guided by more than a couple of these fundamental goals.
Note: this will be a universal truth. So in defining this dimension, don’t pursue differentiation at all costs, but authenticity.
What is the field of action through which the organisation can make a difference? What will be its sphere of influence?
This defines the organisation’s latitude, making the purpose elevated enough, without being vague.
Note: strike a sweet spot – identify a field that is broad enough to rise above fast-changing categories, technologies and benefits, but is sufficiently defined to be meaningful.
What is the role that the organisation can credibly aspire to play in its field to pursue its ethos?
What role can the organisation credibly play within that field? This defines the part organisation will play – a kind of archetype.
Note: define a role that is sufficiently incisive, but – equally – credible.