PB & Purpose

Can peanut butter have a purpose? The delicious sticky goodness may be enough for many, but it takes more than a tasty product to make a brand stand out.

“Truly sustainable business models are linked to fundamental human values — an ideal of improving people’s lives,” explains Jim Stengel. The former global marketing director of Procter & Gamble has been exploring brand ideals since his early days on the Jif brand management team at P&G.

At the time Jif had abandoned its famous slogan Choosy mothers choose Jif” for “Taste the “˜Jifference’ in Jif.”  After a series of in-home visits and shop-alongs with moms, a deeper revelation became clear about the brand’s core customer. As Stengel tells it, “They weren’t simply women between the ages of 18 and 34; they were highly engaged moms with young children. As a result, my guiding thought was to make Jif the most loved peanut butter by exemplifying and supporting what these moms valued. We had to have the highest quality…. We had to address concerns about healthfulness and nutrition.”

It was this realization that led Stengel to make the bold — and unusual — move to return to “Choosy moms choose Jif” as it better expressed what the brand stood for. To more deeply align with their core customers’ values, Jif launched a national promotion through which they donated 10 cents per jar to local parent-teacher associations. The shift back to the brand’s core value resulted in explosive growth:

·      Jif gained two full share points in a market where fractional gains were a challenge.

·      The brand enjoyed record profitability with a 143% increase in total profits and a 110% gain in profit margin.

Stengel attributes this brand success story to an important marketing principle — the power of ideals. He describes a brand ideal as, “A shared intent by everyone in a business to improve people’s lives.” In this case, Jif was no longer just selling peanut butter; the brand became a mother’s partner in her child’s development.

This is the principle that underlies an approach we call purpose-powered branding. Brands aren’t defined simply by how they look, sound, taste or feel. Most importantly, they are defined by how they act.

That purpose is what can make a positive difference in people’s lives and in the competitive nonprofit landscape.

Stengel puts it like this: “If you want great business results, you and your brand have to stand for something compelling.”

Whether it’s a nonprofit organization or a consumer brand like Jif, harnessing that core value gives the brand a stronger connection with constituents and customers and is the key to powering growth.