The ‘Uncommon Ones’: How Your Brand Can Live Its Purpose

The brands that change the world are those that stand for something. Those brands are the “uncommon ones,” says Kenny Nguyen, CEO of ThreeSixtyEight

What makes these brands great is more than just their products or marketing. It’s their mission — to challenge the status quo and create an uncommon future. 

At this year’s Baton Rouge Entrepreneurship Week (BREW), Nguyen shared what it means to be an “uncommon brand,” how they’re rewriting the business playbook and how brands can live out their purpose.

The Essence of an Uncommon Brand

Uncommon brands aren’t necessarily spending the most money on marketing and advertising. the ones spending massive amounts of money to get their brand out there. 

“What really, really moves the needle is when you stand up for what you believe in because your company stands for something,” Nguyen says. “And that’s what transforms companies from just a company to an actual movement.”

Spanx, founded by Sara Blakely, is a perfect example of being an uncommon brand. The company has transformed lives — yes, with its great products, but also because Spanx is “female empowerment disguised as an undergarment company.” 

Act on Your Beliefs and Purpose

Many companies have written down what they stand for and what they believe. But do they live these values, especially in difficult times? Nguyen has learned that “your purpose doesn’t mean anything until it costs you money.” 

Businesses have to make money to survive, but they can choose to hoard profits or help make the world better. One way to honor your purpose is to look at how you can give back. 

“If you’re a business, you’ve got to give back to the community,” Nguyen says. “You’ve got to shine the light on the folks that are sharing your mission. You got to make your employees believe. That’s what moves it forward.”

For example, the founders of Ben & Jerry’s have been known to speak out on causes that are important to them, even being arrested for their beliefs. Nguyen also told the story of a smaller ice cream company that donates food for every ice cream sold. This “Scoop for Scoop” program is a visible way to show how they’re feeding people, not just through sales, but through donations.

Being an uncommon brand doesn’t mean you need to be exactly like Ben & Jerry’s. But you do need to take stands, even when doing so is challenging or unpopular. By living your values, you’re more likely to build a loyal following that’ll support you through difficult times.

Close the Brand Gap

The brand gap is the difference between what companies say and what they do. And it’s not a harmless gap.

“Every time you make a decision based on growth that goes away from your core values, the people that believe in you are less likely to believe in you,” Nguyen says. 

Closing this gap requires living your brand purpose through actions, including inside the company. Start by embedding your purpose and values into business operations and culture. It also requires understanding the difference between brand and brand marketing, the latter of which involves spending money on outputs, such as advertisements and social media.

“Brand is everything that you do, how you act, how you behave, what you preach,” Nguyen says. “That’s what builds your brand.”

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