Dear Branders. I Think I’m Done With Brand Purpose. Here’s Why.

Nathaniel Bastin
5 min readJan 27, 2023

Dear Branders,

I have a confession to make. As a devoted brand marketer, it’s something I’m almost too afraid to admit. As I write this letter, I can feel my hands trembling with each newly scribed word.

This isn’t going to be easy. But, deep breath. Here it goes.

I think I’m done with brand purpose.

…aaaah. Well, I must say — I actually feel so much better for that. I’ve been bottling it up for a very long time now, causing myself unbearable internal struggle and distress. Sweet relief!

Before you all jump on me, I guess I’ll need to explain. So, let’s set the scene.

Back at the beginning of my career, I — like many a wet-eared brander — was all in on brand purpose. I’d parrot the whole well-worn spiel about the importance of businesses forging an emotional connection with customers and colleagues through a sense of shared purpose.

And let’s give the devil its due for a moment. I believed then and still do, that — beyond a certain Mazlowvian level of need — a sense of purpose is about as potent a human motivator as there is.

It feels good to be associated with a purposeful aim. So it’s only natural that our business’ brand should be purpose-led, right?

Right. Let’s go then.

Oh, and I goed, alright. I dove straight in with both feet, developing and preaching purpose after purpose for brand after brand with campaign after campaign.

We’re changing things for the better, folks! Saving the world one customer at a time! Open your heart and let that warm fuzz rush in!

I poured everything into it. And yet, for all that effort, I kept running into the same issue. Them purposes just weren’t sticking.

The repetition, the focus groups, the constant iteration: straight over people’s heads. Not everyone, it must be said (I’m not that bad!). But a head-scratchingly significant proportion all the same.

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Nathaniel Bastin

Full Stack Brand Builder | Published in “The Startup”, “Better Marketing” & “Entrepreneur’s Handbook” | x.com/NB_Branding