There are two types of distractions that risk happening when working on brands.
The first is going too far about romancing the importance of brands in peoples' lives. Truth is: we all share brands in a category and we choose to spend our money on products that provide great experiences. Martin Weigel and Bob Hoffman have each written great pieces on this.
The second is dismissing the importance of a strong brand all together. The thought that "brands have run out of juice" or ignoring the fact that one of the strongest benefits of a good brand is to create more margin is silly.
Somewhere in the middle of all of this is Brand Positioning. But I'm finding that term to be less helpful as the years go by. It sounds like it comes from a PowerPoint presentation and because of its formal-ness invites all sorts of predictable, often undifferentiated words. As a term I think it felt more at home in the 20th Century when the world moved slower and wasn't very transparent.
Rather, I'm preferring to think about purpose. A purpose is written differently. It provides more clarity. And I think it's much easier to act on. Purpose provides a reason for an organization to exist. As David Heiatt says, you should be able to write it on a doormat.
But you can also surround yourself with it, like what Jet Blue does at their NY headquarters.
Purpose helps an organization better live up to the expectations that people have, since today they come prepared with so much product information and brand context when they buy something.
"People are researching online for anything--from picking a pizza to choosing a home loan provider--meaning they're essentially bullshit proof." -WARC, Consumers in 2015: Millennials Take Centre-Stage
And purpose is a concept that, I think, is understood far better by younger generations who are buying more and more, and leading companies more and more. Which means that it can be more actionable than just sounding okay in a PowerPoint slide.
So that's a little bit about why I'm thinking about purpose over other things.