Niamh Boyle A Higher Purpose

Rethinking Purpose

The Reputations Agency MD, Niamh Boyle spoke to Dave Winterlich of Inside Marketing to talk about Ireland RepTrak® and the power of purpose. They discuss how successful, high-growth companies put purpose at their core and why consumers will support these organisations ahead of others in to the future. Listen to why now might be the optimum time to rethink your organisations purpose strategy and how purpose can become your organisation’s new weapon, helping you to shape your organisational values, build internal alignment, enhance your brand and deliver a stronger reputational impact.

Inside Marketing is a podcast and content series from Dentsu Aegis Network and Irish Times Media Solutions, exploring the issues and opportunities facing the world of media and marketing, with expert input from senior marketing personnel and thought leaders.

Inside Marketing · Ep - 23. Rethinking Purpose.

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Listen to the full podcast or read the full article from the Irish Times below

Covid-19 has given us time to think about the real meaning of Purpose. For fifteen years we have worked with over 50 global and Irish organisations to audit, build and activate their brand, purpose, and reputation. We have witnessed how the marriage of strong brand values and a compelling sense of purpose, delivers the most powerful reputations and business results for our clients. Rethinking purpose can be hugely beneficial to an organisation and right now is the optimum time to do this.

Leading brands now have an opportunity to reflect and ask what part they can play in the current crisis and beyond that reflects their brand purpose.  Many brands worldwide are doing their best to assure their customers and employees that they are there for them. Some are visibly acting on these assurances by putting Purpose before profit. Profit will come later when consumers remember how these organisations behaved and will choose them ahead of others.

However, some enterprises struggle to define their Purpose and appear to be tone deaf to the times.  We have seen organisations make expensive mistakes with ill thought out and poorly activated corporate Purposes that simply do not resonate with their stakeholders. Those that win have been backed strongly by both their leadership and their employees.

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An Post, whose purpose “To act for the common good, to improve quality of life now and for generations to come” is led strongly by CEO David McRedmond. They’ve been bringing this purpose to life across their 9,000 plus employees in a myriad of ways including tackling the gender pay gap, a commitment to SDGs, pledging zero-emission deliveries across cities and Address Point, an award winning global first that gives the homeless of Ireland a unique address of their own and access to written correspondence. Its purpose has shone during Covid-19 when it checks in upon older and vulnerable people and offers free mail and parcel pick-ups for housebound customers.

Purpose at the Core of your Strategy

Our global partners The RepTrak Company identified ten macro-trends that drive reputation, based on interviews with 170 global CCO’s and CMO’s. The number one challenge, even pre Covid-19, was how to instil a Higher Purpose within their organisations.

Published in the Harvard Business Review Put Purpose at the Core of your Strategy* shows how successful companies can redefine their business through Purpose. The researchers investigated three strategies known to drive growth – creating new markets, serving broader stakeholder needs and changing the rules of the game.  But a fourth critical growth driver surprised the researchers: Purpose. The researchers found that while many companies consider purpose merely an add-on to their strategy, the most successful high-growth companies put it at their core, using it to redefine the market and reshape their value proposition.

We all need a sense of purpose. As marketers we rely heavily on understanding brand – the way we project ourselves to the world, and reputation – how we are perceived by society. But that’s just not enough. We need to know that organisations exist for something beyond just profit. More and more we are asked to justify our existence by how we contribute to society, community, environment as well as the economy.  

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A strong purpose is inspirational, forward-looking and speaks to the greater impact an organisation aspires to achieve. Purpose can be your organisation’s new weapon, helping you to shape your organisational values, build internal alignment, and consistency, enhancing your brand and delivering a stronger reputational impact. According to Larry Fink, CEO, BlackRock, ultimately, purpose is the engine of long-term profitability.

Two major reputational studies

We recently announced the results of two major reputational studies highlighting the growing importance of organisations acting with Purpose. Our eleventh annual Ireland RepTrak® 2020 study, the largest and longest running study of reputation in Ireland, is based on the perceptions of over 7,000 members of the public and was completed between early January and early March 2020.

The study measured the level of trust, respect, admiration and esteem the public has for 100 organisations in Ireland, along with close to 100 other reputation indicators. The top 10 most reputed organisations were the Credit Unions, followed by Bord Bia, Boots Ireland, IRFU, Lidl, Tourism Ireland, An Post, Samsung, Kerry and Microsoft.  

Ireland RepTrak

The Credit Unions took the top spot overall as the most reputable organisation in Ireland with an Excellent Reputation Pulse score of 83.7 out of 100, for their role as a trusted cornerstone of local communities with over 3.6 million members nationwide. Credit Unions scored consistently well in six of the seven reputational drivers, leading the way in Governance, with a strong performance in Products & Services, Innovation, Workplace, Citizenship, Leadership and Performance.

For the first time, Governance surpassed Products & Services as the number one driver of an organisation’s reputation. The reputational importance of Governance has increased gradually since 2013, but spiked this year, indicating the public’s desire for organisations to have a stronger sense of purpose and ethics.

We launched our Purpose Power Index (PPI) study in April 2020 to understand the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the perceptions of organisations in Ireland, and to identify the organisations and sectors that the Irish public believes have performed best during the crisis. The study measured the degree to which organisations perform against four elements – whether they are improving lives, acting beyond profits, acting for a better world, and benefiting society.

The PPI revealed the public’s recognition of the strong purpose-led performances by the HSE, An Garda Síochána, The Government, An Post and the food retail sector during Covid-19,  demonstrating that it is crucial for an organisation’s purpose to translate into clear actions.

Developing and Implementing a Corporate Purpose

Developing a corporate purpose is one thing but activating a purpose driven strategy is another – it is crucial that the chosen purpose can translate into actions. Defining your corporate purpose requires a top down approach, bringing the entire organisation on this journey before you begin communicating and activating it externally.

When advising our clients, we use a blend of internal and external stakeholder research to help bring clarity to a potential Corporate Purpose, vision, values, culture, and narrative. This includes employee, executive management, and board surveys, with high level results collated and communicated internally.

Purpose can be Retrospective, building on a firm’s reason for being by codifying organisational and cultural DNA while making sense of the firm’s past, or Prospective, requiring you to look forward, take stock of the broader ecosystem and assessing your potential for impact in it, so making sense of the future and gearing your organisation towards this goal.  

A series of Purpose Workshops amongst selected internal audiences and the executive management team can help agree a direction and the activation plan to bring that purpose to life, ensuring that communications across key stakeholders are aligned and speaking with the same voice.

Rethinking Purpose can be hugely beneficial to an organisation, its employees and other stakeholders and it is not too late to play a role in supporting society during this time.  As we move towards a phase of economic recovery, right now may, in fact, be the optimum time to do this.

Niamh Boyle is Founder and Managing Director of The Reputations Agency, a strategic reputation, communications, and public relations agency that audits, builds, and activates brand, purpose, and reputation strategies.

To view the highlights of these reputational reports, CLICK HERE 

Now may be the time for that moment of reflection to truly understand the view of your stakeholders through a customised Purpose audit. How do you build on that to put purpose at the core of your strategy and how do you activate your purpose in a way that adds value to your organisation and its stakeholder?  

Our experience shows us that developing a corporate purpose is one thing but activating a purpose driven strategy is another – it’s important that purpose translates into actions. To activate and deliver on its higher purpose a company needs to know what to authentically do and say.

At The Reputations Agency, we have the insight, the people, the passion and the experience to audit, build and activate your brand, purpose and reputation. We are best positioned to be a strategic communications partner on a journey to support your purpose-driven business in the years to come.


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