Goal: something that you are trying to do or achieve (Merriam Webster); the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end/ the terminal point in a race (Dictionary.com).
Objective: something that one’s efforts or actions are intended to attain or accomplish (Dictionary.com); something that you plan to do or achieve (Cambridge); A thing aimed at or sought/ not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts. (Oxford).
Purpose: the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists/ motive; why you do something or why something exists (Cambridge);the reason why something is done or used : the aim or intention of something (Merriam-Webster)
These tree terms are often used interchangeably in business conversations. However, appreciation of their difference is critical in branding, strategic management and advertising. And the quest to understand the same can be traced back to 1960s when DAGMAR approach was formulated by Russel Colley. It is elaborated as Defining Advertising Goals for Measured Advertising Results.
Goals: tend to express targets to be achieved in an abstract manner. They do direct attention on what is to be accomplished but fail to provide concrete links with ways/actions to achieve the ends. For instance a company may define its goal as to achieve ‘excellent financial performance’ or ‘to achieve greater market share’.
Objectives: are derived from goals and they are concrete. They are not surrounded by haze and personal interpretation or feelings. The concreteness of objectives allows strategists to clearly connect them with means/actions required for their achievement. The objectives are spelled like: a company decides to earn 10% ROI or wants to expand its sales by 12.5 %.
Purpose: draws attention to whys of goals and objectives. Why goals or objectives are to be accomplished fundamentally? If a business targets to achieve 10% ROI, it is important that for people to understand it’s ‘reason why’ or purpose. Similarly, if goal is to expand market share, the staff would do a better job if they are explained why it is important to do so. Purpose provides context to actions and therefore motivate and inspire people to commit themselves to performing better. It is one thing to say we aim to satisfy our customers and another to say we want to enable them to live richer lives.
In order to get better consumer and employee commitment, marketers have realized the importance of articulating and assigning brands with meaningful purpose. Product functions and benefits are easily copied and therefore fail to extract customer commitment at a higher level. By connecting a brand with a higher order purpose consumers can be given opportunity to connect with greater cause or meaning. Purpose can strike a soul connection and become basis of relationship and bonding that transcend cost-benefit math. Consider the following:
- It is one thing for a fairness cream to make skin complexion fair but quite another to instill confidence in people to take on the world
- It is one thing for a soap brand to promote ‘soft and glowing skin’ and quite another to be comfortable with their real and natural looks
- It is one thing to make a hand wash brand to make hand germs free and quite another to let kids not be down (not go to school) due to hand based infections
- It is one thing for an oral contraceptive pill to prevent women from having unwanted pregnancies and quite another to take charge of their sexuality
- It is one thing for a soda brand to provide consumers with tasty fizzy drink and quite another to become an agent of their happiness
Good brand not only have good products they also have purpose which allows them to play a role at higher plane. They forge connections which extend beyond product functions and penetrate deeper into consumer’s inherent desire to see meanings in things and lives. As it is said life without purpose is meaningless, a brand without purpose is just a commodity with a name.