Lampooning ‘Brand Purpose’ Messaging

Oct 20, 2022

The brilliant and acerbic advertising industry opinion writer Bob Hoffman recently skewered the ridiculous ways that some brands engage in “brand purpose” messaging.

Brand purpose, for the uninitiated, is a statement of a company’s values and essential reason for existing that goes beyond the more practical purpose of selling products. People don’t buy what you’re selling, the thinking goes, they buy why you do it.

For example, the HBO TV show “Silicon Valley” hilariously lampooned the many internet companies whose statement of purpose is some variation of “making the world a better place.”

So Hoffman compared a cynical and stupid example of brand purpose with a good one.

“Last week, [in September], someone showed us what real brand purpose is,” Hoffman wrote. “Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, gave away his $3 billion in company value. The 83-year old, sensing that he won’t live forever, decided not to take the company public or leave it to his kids. Instead he gave it away to a non-profit trust that is required to continue to finance environmental causes.”

Then there was a laughable example. “According to a LinkedIn post this week by the the CEO of Heineken, the purpose of their brand is to ‘Brew the joy of true togetherness to inspire a better world,’” Hoffman wrote.

“So I dropped by my local tavern Thursday night and had a chat with the boys,” Hoffman continued. “‘Hey, you guys know your beer, right? I have a question for you. Which beer brews the joy of true togetherness to inspire a better world?’” 

“My doctor says I should be able to resume normal sitting next week,” Hoffman concluded.