Brand purpose is a powerful belief.
Its disciples preach it as the only way to position a brand.
“Start with WHY,” they say. “And the world will follow”.
Personally, I think it’s a load of old codswallop.
But there are plenty of people in marketing who don’t.
They truly believe brand purpose is the only reason customers buy.
And push the narrative that every business should spend time and money finding one.
Present these converts with any evidence to the contrary and an amazing thing happens.
Examples of purpose gone wrong, are spun into examples of purpose done wrong.
And rather than doubting the pursuit of purpose beyond profit, their purpose driven belief becomes even stronger.
Belief, it seems, is a difficult thing to change.
Abraham Maslow knew this.
Apparently, the famous psychologist was fond of telling a story about a deluded young man who believed he was a corpse.
His psychiatrist spent many sessions trying to convince him he wasn’t.
One day the psychiatrist had an idea.
And like most good ideas it was simple and obvious.
He asked the patient a question:
“Do corpses bleed?”
“Of course not!” replied the patient. “Corpses don’t bleed. They’re dead!”
Pleased at the response, the psychiatrist asked if the patient was willing to try an experiment.
The psychiatrist would prick the patient’s finger with a needle to see if it bled.
The patient agreed.
The psychiatrist pricked the patient’s finger.
And sure enough, it began to bleed.
The patient stared at his finger in amazement.
“Well, look at that…” he said.
“Corpses do bleed!”