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Brand purpose: a compass to guide business decisions

What does a company bring to society? What role does it play? Why does a brand exist? These questions can be answered in many ways, each answer hinting at the company’s “what for”, the reason that drives it and defines how it engages with society, its purpose.

Carlos Pérez Beruete, Global Head of Marketing and Digital Sales at BBVA, took part in a meeting organized by communication consultancy firm Prodigioso Volcán, to share his insights into the purpose of brands and, specifically, about how BBVA's purpose – bring the age of opportunity to everyone – informs the bank's strategic decisions.

Under the title 'Brand Purpose Post-COVID-19', Carlos Pérez Beruete, Mario Tascón, founding partner of Prodigioso Volcán, and María Garrido, a branding specialist that works for the firm, discussed topics such as the importance of the corporate purpose and its impact on organizations, and what customers expect from companies in the 21st century: They will not tolerate brands that are not committed and sustainable.

The head of digital sales and marketing explained that BBVA’s purpose transformation began after a period of intensive work. “When in 2015 the bank's managers started working on a new strategic plan, they realized that they needed to build it based on a purpose. This required us to embark in an extensive retrospective endeavor, since we are a company with more than 160 years of history, to, based on all that heritage, along with the direction and the path that we wanted to follow as an organization, build our purpose bringing the age of opportunity to everyone.”

Pérez Beruete emphasized that the whole process was highly collaborative, with more than 120,000 Group employees participating worldwide through surveys. "It is something that has to permeate across all areas of the organization, not just the Marketing or Talent and Culture departments."

Carlos Pérez Beruete, Head of Marketing and Digital Sales at BBVA, during the meeting.

In this context caused by the coronavirus, according to a report by Edelman on consumer trust on brands, 90 percent of respondents expect businesses to help governments find solutions, and 84 percent of 'centennials' expect brands to position themselves on relevant social issues. María Garrido also commented that, from an in-house perspective, the purpose is highly relevant; since 89 percent of the workers consider that a strong sense of collective purpose has a very positive influence on employee satisfaction. Regarding the uncertainty caused by the current scenario, Prodigioso Volcán’s consultant stated that if the company's purpose is strong and solid, it can be fine-tuned and adapted to conform to circumstances, but without having to change.

During the meeting, the speakers touched on a number of topics, including impact of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on the collective narrative of companies, described – as they mentioned – by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’  as the world’s business plan. In this sense, Carlos Pérez Beruete noted that these SDGs have laid the groundwork for initiatives that just five years ago, nobody at BBVA would’ve even dared thinking about, but that "if sifted with the sieve of purpose, they make all the sense."

Finally they talked about how a brand’s purpose is conveyed both to customers and employees. In the case of BBVA, it is embodied in the products and services offered and in the values ​​and behaviors passes on to employees by the bank. "It is something that is constantly experienced and discussed, and is present in all our actions", concluded Carlos Pérez Beruete.