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Staying True to Your Cause

Every great brand starts with a purpose—their reason for being.

Starbucks started in a small storefront in Seattle in 1971 for the purpose of sharing the love of brewing the perfect coffee. Their purpose of bringing people together continues. Starbucks never set out to become Fortune’s fifth most admired brand in the world. This was the outcome of their inner purpose.

Apple started with the purpose of putting technology in the hands of everyone in a way that was simple, beautiful, and intuitive. They did not set out to become the second most valuable brand at $107 billion. Again, this was the outcome of remaining true to their purpose. Sure, there were detours along the way, but even when Steve Jobs returned to Apple during one of its lowest points, it was the Apple brand—its purpose—that remained its most valuable asset. Knowing this, Jobs revived Apple’s brand with the launch of the iMac and its concurrent Think Different campaign.

Before Instagram became the popular photo app for over 800 million people, it was a bloated mobile web app called Burbn. The founders, with growing funding, decided to “cut their darlings” and slash all the features of Burbn except for three things: photos, comments, and likes. In short, they saw photos as the foundation of their purpose to capture and share moments.

In all of these examples, there is a passion for purpose. As Simon Sinek famously says, they “start with WHY.” This is the power of cause at work. Yet, this alone is not enough. Success comes from an acute understanding of three core areas that must be synergistically connected: Cause (the problem you solve); Brand (the promise you make through all you do); and Team (the people and personalities behind it all). The Cause+Brand+Team triad is a valuable lens to view your progress whether you are a startup, established business, nonprofit, coalition, or individual leader. Take inventory of all three areas and find ways to make them even more interconnected.