In fact, it is becoming increasingly clear that to be a leading brand today you need to be fully in touch with your why. The world's most profitable brands understand why they exist, and why their employees and customers should care about them.
As we hurtle into an unpredictable and unstable future, it will increasingly be the purposeful organisations that stand out and drive profitable change.
Tracked over the long term, purposeful organisations outperform the market by a margin of nearly 400%. And more than that, it is especially relevant in Africa today.
African customers have a broader set of needs and aspirations than those in the developed world. They are more conscious of the social limitations and problems of their countries, and more responsive to the brands that impact their communities in positive ways. It's worth remembering, as businesses scramble for their piece of the emerging Africa success story, that connecting with African consumers means thinking beyond narrow category norms or product benefits - to impacting society.
So how can businesses get it right? How can they find their purpose?
We believe the path to purposeful success can be made simple. Businesses need to assess, align and activate.
Your purpose needs to be relevant to your environment, your customers and their communities. A powerful purpose is derived from insight into your customers, category, social context and business. It needs to gear your business to provide value that people actually want to buy. Ask yourself:
Think about the long-term sustainability of the issues that you find. Your purpose needs to connect to genuine needs, not marketing buzz. And decide what kind of difference you want to make. It's important to be honest about this, as it will inform your decisions on investments, who to partner with and what metrics you will use to measure your progress.
However you choose to define your overarching purpose, it should be rooted in what you do best from a business point of view. Purpose needs to come from the real character, strengths, values and philosophy of the company or it will not serve the company in the long term.
An accurately defined, relevant purpose can only drive change if it connects with your people. Activate it internally by inspiring employees to understand it, live it and believe it.
Communicating your purpose can be tricky - it runs the risk of sounding like 'goodwashing'. The easiest way to avoid this is to do the good first, and then talk about it. Strike a balance between being humble and being committed.
Doing business 'on purpose' will enable you to deliver more value to your stakeholders, and will ultimately grow your bottom line. Finding your organisational purpose, and aligning your business behind it will transform what you do, give meaning to your employees and turn your brands into something the world actually cares about. The shift in thinking required may be difficult, but the benefits are huge.