If your brand was a button, what would happen if someone pressed it?

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The word ‘purpose’ is popping up more and more in marketing these days. It comes up in two different ways, which are sort of the same. Both ways have huge merit, if it's better marketing you’re after.

The first way purpose is used is when referring to social enterprise, when a brand’s business model or campaign has a ‘Good’ (with a capital G) purpose. TOMS shoes, Warby Parker, Product RED all have a Good purpose. You buy them and in doing so you make Good things happen. Kids get new shoes, eyesight gets fixed, AIDS gets research etc. Really lovely stuff. The future of branding and business, by the way.

The second way purpose is used is when referring to a campaign that doesn’t just talk about good (with a small g) things, but makes good things happen. You text a number and a dance troupe makes it to the final…you click ‘Like’ and your photo gets added to your football team’s wall of fame…or, you ask a celebrity a question and they answer you. Cool stuff. good stuff.

In both cases, there’s a purpose to getting involved. You do something and something happens.

There’s lots of clever chat around transactional, experiential, interactive and value-exchange marketing that sits behind the Good and good examples of purpose marketing. But, if you think about it, it’s really just about buttons. Everywhere you look, there are buttons - on your phone, on your laptop, on your tablet and on your telebox. Even on your flippin’ watch. We push these buttons thousands of times a day. We love ‘em!

And it’s no surprise we love ‘em, because today buttons can do some pretty amazing stuff. True, sometimes you might just use them to type the word ‘sausage’ or like a picture of a goat drinking a Mojito. But, on another day you might tap a button and make something like this happen…

- You get a bespoke training regime for your age, bodyweight and fitness goals appear in your inbox.

- You fund the fuel for a new water well in North Africa, for one year.

- You star in a 3-minute film alongside your greatest movie idol.

- You contribute information about yourself to a research project that advances the discovery of a cure for cancer

- You find out where lots of people that support Arsenal are watching the game when you’re on holiday in Barcelona.

…these days, my friends, buttons are bloody brilliant. And what makes them even more brilliant, if that’s possible, is that the places buttons can be found, are exactly the same places where it’s very easy and very cheap to talk to people…in their gazillions.

What an unbelievable concoction: Buttons that can make amazing things happen, things that people really want to happen…and the means to tell people what these buttons can do on a massive scale, in the most compelling way.

And yet, so few brands have any purpose to their campaign. Good or good. They just talk. And talk. And talk. Nothing happens. There is no purpose.

Imagine your brand was a button. What would happen if someone pressed it?