How to overcome five critical challenges of activating brand purpose.

By now, most marketers are aware of the importance of having a brand purpose — a clearly defined reason for a brand's existence that goes beyond sales and profits, has a distinct societal benefit, and, at least in theory, provides a framework for every strategic business decision. Being purposeful has enabled brands like TOMS Shoes, Nike, Patagonia, Airbnb, and other leading brands to gain a market advantage — and oodles of positive buzz — in a business era defined by the collision of social media and social consciousness.

While some skeptics argue that purpose is a faddish buzzword, the business case is hard to deny. Kantar Consulting's "Purpose 2020" report, based on data collected from multiple surveys of more than 20,000 marketers and 100 deep-dive interviews, found that purpose-led brands have seen their brand valuation increase by 175 percent over past 12 years, compared to a median growth rate of 86 percent. Edelman's 2018 Earned Brand study, meanwhile, reported that nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of consumers around the world make purchases based on what a company stands for, an increase of 13 points since 2017.