CORE IDENTITY

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There’s no greater question in the world than “who?” Core identity answers “who” you are and provides a roadmap to the “why” your organization exists, why it matters, and for what purpose.

Unfortunately, many people and business don’t spend much time on the “who” and the “why,” becoming caught in the web of “how.” You want a house? How do you make the money to afford it? You want a bigger house? How do you make the money to afford the bigger house? You want to shift strategies in your market? How do you develop the plan to do it? Are you facing slumping sales? How do you reignite the product in the imagination of the consumer? Is there a cash flow problem? How do you better balance the books?

The list could go onward to infinity and beyond. Daily, our lives are governed by how. We all create some goals and then put together a plan to achieve those goals. Too often, however, we don’t have much reasoning behind those goals.

It seems as if our society has become so focused on the tools governing a safe flight without taking any credence in where the airplane is going. While these tools ensure everyone is experiencing a safe flight, what’s the point without a deeper understanding of where you’ve been and where you’re going?

Because of these issues, we believe purpose is paramount to individuals and organizations as a whole. Purpose governs the who and why that sets everything else in motion.

We’ve outlined a process that can answer these big questions. We call it the Purpose Design Sequence.

For starters, purpose design dictates core identity, the underlying ideas around who you are and what your company believes in. Core identity is the big idea a team can circle around; it’s the phrase all the employees use when they give a short elevator speech at the bar on Friday night.

CULTURE

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This core identity funnels into culture. The shared stories, the symbols, the rituals and routines, the processes throughout an organization all make up culture. Culture embodies the shared values of the organization, the key principles that show up in everyone’s work.

Culture touches the efficiency and effectiveness of the organization. It’s not an ethereal or abstract description of a business. Instead, the way identity influences culture emerges in practical ways. If communication is part of the core identity, that value then informs all the elements of culture. The stories you tell about your communication become a rallying cry for everyone else to live the same value. Applying the value of communication in your processes allows the team to get on the same page quickly.

The culture of your organization is important because it measures the quality of life for your employees. However, it also plays a role in improving the work of the organization. Good culture does good work.

EXPRESSION

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Culture lays the groundwork for a robust visual expression. It’s the external representation of the internal practices. Logos, typography, color palettes, and branded collateral (e.g., websites, brochures, business cards) will feel cohesive because purpose-driven identity and culture inform the look and feel of the brand.

Often when you hear the word, “brand,” you consider the external expression element. Those logos, colors, ad campaigns, and product packaging represent the brand to the outside world.

And yet, when you think of the visual expression as the only piece of the brand, design sometimes becomes disconnected from the strategic purposes of the business built through your core identity and culture. A logo might be aesthetically pleasing, but does it shoulder the weight of your full identity? How do the branded imagery, color palette, and type choices connect to who you really are?

Your visual expression externalizes your internal identity.

EXPERIENCE

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These items, taken together, create a strong link to audience experience. Instead of an isolated customer unsure of what’s happening during the buying process. A connected customer has the opportunity to engage with the company and understand the bigger picture the company espouses.

Your internal identity, culture, and visual expression need to connect with the audience at every point of contact. The internal and external elements of your identity will map to these areas. You will have a branded touch point at the moment of awareness that tells your story. After the customer becomes aware, you will have further touch points directing them toward an on-boarding purchase. Then, your identity must practice what it promises at the moment of truth to keep the customer engaged and extending the relationship at a deeper level. Finally, your internal and external identity components must touch the moment of advocacy where the customer then shares your story with a new audience.

The experience spectrum represents the final component of the purpose design sequence. All four elements work together to provide the complete picture of your brand for internal and external audiences.

INCREASED PERFORMANCE AND ENDURING VALUE

If a company aligns its purpose to fulfill its identity, culture, expression, and customer experience, the end result is enduring value and increased performance. Your customers will want to be associated with your brand and they will become your biggest advocates, a proven process for growth and performance.

Adding it all up, the purpose design sequence answers the question of “why” internally and externally in your company. It’s the powerful motivating factor that puts everyone on the same page and it’s the inspirational edge that keeps your customers going back. Purpose design is answering the why.