The Purpose Idea

Inspired by a post at Hugh Macleod’s Gaping Void blog about Mark Earls’ notion of a Purpose Idea: ” . . .the ‘What For?’ of a business, or any kind of community. What exists to change (or protect) in the world, why employees get out of bed in the morning, what difference the business seeks to make on behalf of customers and employees and everyone else?”

At QV, our Purpose Idea centers around the sacredness of profit in its many guises: for our clients, ourselves, and the people who are exposed to our work. What’s yours?

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Rick Julian


  1. Oliver on October 21, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    I think you’re touching on something really important here. You can pin point it much better than myself.
    I’m in the midst of launching a business, somewhat cenetered around what you’ve just described. It’s a set of web applications that a company can use.

    It’s purpose (superficially) is to build a community around a brand, product, service, company, need or industry. In our eyes, not to directly profit from this community through advertisements, subscriptions etc. Rather to have a company create a community around their brand, which gives them the means to express their idea and/or message.

    What I took out of your video is that with your experience, yes, you created revenue, made money for the event, maybe profit, but at the same time, you created a message that transcended through someones sense of ‘this is an advertisement for me to go to this event’ and into their actual reasoning and thought pattern. I think that is something that over the next few years will become of vital importance, due to the fact that advertising your brand will get cheaper and cheaper and less and less effective through the standard methods and mediums.

  2. rjulian on October 22, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    Yes, Oliver, moving forward, brands that are able to resonate with consumers on levels that transcend commerce will have a competitive advantage. Some brands have already achieved this, serving as proof-of-concept: The Body Shop, Nike, Apple, Benetton, Innocent Drinks . . .

    How one taps that meta meaning requires elevating one’s perspective. For example, we had a client who was a manufacturer of luxury faucetry. Their perspective on their brand was entirely practical: we design stylish faucets and shower heads, and build them with impeccable quality. Indeed they did, but that purely rational framing missed the larger opportunity to engender meaning among their employees and customers.

    Here’s how we reframed them, uncovering their “Purpose Idea”: One one hand we have water–the element most essential to life, on the other hand we have humanity. In the middle was the brand who created the conduit between the two–the interface that brought humans and water together. That kind of positioning elevated their role to a place of substance and meaning that resonated internally and externally, leading to higher levels of brand effectiveness in the market and more highly motivated employees.

    Good luck with your launch, and thanks for your comments.

  3. Oliver on October 22, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    By any chance do you have information on your final effort in terms of that? I’d love to see how you helped them with their branding.

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