Purpose-branding vs Target-audience Marketing

Purpose-branding vs Target-audience Marketing


Both get inside consumers' heads. Only one is getting inside their hearts. 

Sep 8 5 minute read

We generally come across two main strategies in the marketing world:

  • Purpose-driven branding

This is when businesses focus on the purpose of their brand and why they exist. It puts human stories and human motivations at the centre of a company’s marketing.

  • Target-audience marketing 

This is when companies concentrate on specific customers. They focus marketing on how to cater to these select audiences and their needs. 

There is no right or wrong. Both of these approaches have advantages. But here at Colourcake, we have a bit of a soft spot for purpose-driven branding. And we want to share our love for this strategy with you!

We’re not saying that target-audience marketing is ineffective. Of course, customers are always key. If you don’t think about their behaviours and habits, you may as well be marketing in a vacuum. You want to solve consumers’ problems and the way to do that is getting into their heads. 

But we think it’s worth getting inside their hearts too…

And this is where a brand’s purpose comes into play. Increasingly, today’s consumers demand brands that engage with authenticity. They expect companies to have ethically-sound goals. They want to be inspired. The best way for businesses to prove their commitment to things bigger themselves is to reflect on their wider raison d’être.

As Simon Sinek, the god-father of brand purpose, once said: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” This is what we’re all about. 


Purpose-driven success

Some companies are doing outstanding jobs in purpose-driven branding. The Body Shop has always been committed to no animal testing and environmentally responsible initiatives. Loud and proud on their website is their purpose: “We exist to fight for a fairer, more beautiful world”. Recently they revived their activist heritage and returned to these purpose-driven ethical roots with dynamic campaigns and new-look stores. 

Let’s take a look at another personal favourite of mine: Cadbury! Over the past year, they have focused on their original philanthropic purpose, concentrating on generosity and kindness in marketing. The most recent “Donate Your Words” campaign aimed to highlight the issue of loneliness among the elderly. Cadbury removed words from their chocolate packaging and donated 30p per bar to age-related charities in the UK. 

Is this all sounding a bit idealistic to you? Well, even the numbers speak for themselves. Jim Stengel, former CMO of Procter & Gamble, wrote a book on the subject entitled ‘Grow’ in which he showed that the 50 highest-performing businesses are ones driven by brand purpose. On average they grow three times faster than competitors. If you’re still not convinced go check out his podcast!

We like to think of purpose-driven branding as a tortoise, and target-audience marketing as a hare. Perhaps purpose-driven branding takes more effort. Perhaps it is more of a long-term, slow-reward game. But we believe that it’s worth it to gain customer loyalty in the long-run. And we all know who wins between the tortoise and the hare in the end...

Benefits to Purpose-Driven Branding 

  • It leads to good stuff 

By channelling energy into the causes you are passionate about, you can really make a change for the better. Whether that’s increasing sustainability, bringing friends and families together, or just making people feel more happy and confident.

  • It can target audiences too…

But on a far more profound level! By focusing on values close to your heart, you can engage your consumers through shared belief systems. And that’s a recipe for long-lasting customer relations. 

  • It helps the underdog win 

Competing in an overcrowded industry? Not quite the experts in your field yet? You can still win the trust of your customers by sharing your own human story. Explain why you’re committed to your business, what you’ve done to get there, how you hope to improve. It shows that you are invested in what you’re doing, and worth investing in.  

  • It attracts the best employees

Generation Z is the incoming workforce and they care deeply about purpose. 75 percent of us believe that work should have a greater meaning than simply bringing home a salary. Purpose-driven branding is the way to recruit and motivate the people you want!

Sharing your purpose…

Here’s a basic checklist of things to remember:

  • Don’t go too big or too small. Focus on actionable goals that won’t come across as either naively idealistic or just empty gestures.
  • Tell customers your story, but don’t waffle on. Keep it emotive but to the point. 
  • Do something about it. Words are important, but actions speak louder. 

You want to get up every morning feeling fulfilled, motivated and inspired. You want your customers to feel that way too. We think the best way to achieve both is purpose-driven branding!

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