Ideals: The New Engine of Business Growth
“Doing well by doing good”— is that really attainable? We have always thought so, but now we have proof. The most successful brands and businesses in the world are built around something other than just making profit. They are built around ideals.
By Millward Brown
The evidence is in Jim Stengel’s new book, Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World’s Greatest Companies
. With the help of Millward Brown Optimor, Jim identified the 50 brands that ranked highest on both consumer bonding and value creation over the past decade. As we worked with Jim to understand what made these brands so successful and fueled their growth, we observed that the best businesses are ideals-driven. What Is a Brand Ideal?
A brand ideal is a higher purpose of a brand or organization, which goes beyond the product or service they sell. Jim explains it this way: “The ideal is the brand’s inspirational reason for being. It explains why the brand exists and the impact it seeks to make in the world. A brand ideal actively aims to improve the quality of people’s lives. It creates a meaningful goal for the brand—a goal that aligns employees and the organization to better serve customers.”
The brands in the Stengel 50, though they come from both public and private companies in B2B and B2C businesses, and include established as well as younger, smaller, fastgrowing companies, all have a clear sense of purpose. Zappos is in the business of delivering happiness. Pampers does not just sell diapers; it cares for the happy, healthy development of babies around the world. IBM’s purpose is to make a smarter planet. Google exists to organize and give access to the information of the world, and Discovery Channel’s ideal is to satisfy curiosity. A Brand Ideal Is Not
A brand ideal is not a mission statement. Mission statements tend to be narrow, businessoriented statements such as “Be the leader in customer satisfaction” or “Be the most innovative company.” Mission statements tend to be self-serving and therefore limiting. Ideals, being outward focused, extend beyond the company’s financial interests. Red Bull’s ideal is to uplift mind and body; it exists to energize the world. “To be the #1 energy drink” is probably a mission for the company, yet it is seen as an outcome, not its raison d’être
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