Can Your Shop Use Printing to Change the World?

5 tips for building a more purpose-driven brand

While Ben & Jerry’s is known for unforgettable ice cream flavors like Cherry Garcia, Whiskey Biz, and Americone Dream, the company tops off the greatness by using “ice cream to change the world.” The frozen treat giant operates from a place of purpose, saying on its site, “We seek in all we do … at every level of our business, to advance human rights and dignity, support social and economic justice for historically marginalized communities, and protect and restore the Earth’s natural systems.”

A successful brand like Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, or your print shop, has a reason for existing that truly resonates with your target audience — beyond its “to-die-for” ice cream flavors or killer screen-printed T-shirts. When customers share your values, they’re more likely to purchase your products because they feel good about supporting your company.

Purpose-driven brands create loyal customer bases, which is crucial in a competitive marketplace. Self-made billionaire Richard Branson once said, “The brands that will thrive in the coming years are the ones that have a purpose beyond profit.” This prescient business advice especially resonates now, as consumers are four to six times more likely to buy from, trust, and promote companies with a strong purpose.

We’ve got some tips on how to identify your company’s purpose, maintain authenticity when building a new identity, and key ways to stay true to your customers’ needs so you build a genuine connection with them.

What’s purpose-driven brand marketing?

The Ad Council describes purpose-driven marketing as a “strategy used by an organization to center its external communications efforts around a social cause that aligns with its core values.”

Sometimes confused with brand activism, a purpose-driven brand and its marketing efforts differ from activism. Brand activism uses your brand’s voice to draw attention to special social issues that you value and to promote a significant and specific change in the world. In effect, you aren’t just selling your product. Your marketing and messaging take on an “activist tone” as you share your vision of how society should ideally function with consumers.

However, having a purpose-driven brand is different because your company has a core goal that impacts your business decisions. In a nutshell, your shop’s purpose reflects in everything your company does, from your mission statement, identity and goals, to your day-to-day operations and culture.

Besides Ben & Jerry’s, TOMS Shoes is another stellar example of a purpose-driven consumer brand. The company’s impact webpage tells consumers, “We’re in business to improve lives.” While TOMS sells shoes that people love to wear, the brand also aims to “help humanity thrive” and “feel physically safe, mentally healthy and have equal access to opportunity.”

The TOMS team lives out its purpose by giving away shoes to those who need them. Even better, the company offers grants to organizations that provide life-improving services, including sight-saving surgeries, free mental healthcare, education to children living in poverty, and clean water to those who can’t access it. For every $3 TOMS earns, the company gives $1 to these organizations. TOMS also works to reduce its carbon footprint by incorporating more sustainable materials into its products and shipping materials. How can your shop create your own version of this?

How to embrace your shop’s purpose

These are five manageable steps to go from creating your shop’s purpose to living it out in all aspects of your brand.

1. Get crystal clear on your purpose

Do you want to use screen printing to spread an awareness message about education or finding a cure for a certain illness? Do you want to focus on eco-friendly efforts to make the world a cleaner place to live for our children? Think about why this purpose is so important to you and your team, and then create that story to share on your website’s mission page, social media, and other marketing efforts.

2. Adopt this purpose in everything you do

You need to genuinely believe in and have passion for your purpose. This should be evident throughout your company — from how you do business, to how you pack your shipments, and how you structure your customer service experience.

If you’re focused on reducing your carbon footprint, that will permeate every aspect of your shop, from the packaging and cleaners you use to the products you sell, and the organizations you support. If you support educational initiatives, you might include a card in each package explaining that a portion of their purchase proceeds supports those efforts.

3. Develop deep relationships

Don’t ever hesitate to share your passion with your customers. For instance, if your shop commits to helping people live cancer-free, partner with complementary organizations that share your purpose to make meaningful contributions and can help you spread the message.

4. Make it happen

Of course, you can’t be all talk and no action. Set up your shop to demonstrate your commitment to your purpose. Like TOMS, donate decorated T-shirts to support your cause and include your logo within the design. Offer to help out one or two businesses or organizations each year for free or at a discounted rate with their marketing. Support fundraisers or join your staff in volunteering at events.

5. Be consistent

Talk about what your shop has done to help your purpose — whether that’s providing more awareness, raising funds, or actively making a difference by volunteering your time and resources. That way, you rally more people to support your company and, by extension, the impact you’re making in the world.

Creating a purpose-driven brand can be challenging at first, but it’s worth it. Start by getting clear on your own personal or shop mission, and then work that into everything you do to create consistency across the board.

James Andres S&S

James Andres

James Andres is the content manager for S&S Activewear.

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