If you were a young girl growing up in the ’90s, you pretty much had no choice but to love the Spice Girls. They were absolutely EVERYWHERE. If it weren’t for them, I certainly would have had a much harder time making friends on the playground.
I owned the CDs, saw Spice World in theaters, and had school supplies with their faces on them. My only regret is never having seen them in concert.
But as an adult fan looking back on the Spice Girls’ legacy, I think about what I learned from them. For one, they taught me how to be a good friend because your girls always come first. But secondly, they were the first to teach me about brand purpose… I just didn’t know it yet.
What is a Brand Purpose?
It goes back to what Simon Sinek says in his popular TED Talk and best selling book, Start With Why.
Your brand purpose should directly answer “Why does this brand exist?”
Sometimes, brands go wrong when drafting their purpose and they make it about them. They think it’s about selling lots of products, boosting their bottom line, or filling the pockets of their C-suite executives. But a brand purpose is never selfish.
It’s not about the things you sell, but about what those things can do for people or the planet. It’s how your brand can make the world a better place.
Here are some examples of brand purpose:
- Crayola: to unleash the originality in every child
- Southwest: to connect people to what’s important in their lives
- Dove: to help women everywhere develop a positive relationship with the way they look
- Nike: to bring innovation and inspiration to every athlete in the world
- Google: to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful
You’ll notice a pattern here. When writing a brand purpose, it should always have a powerful verb, because it’s what you do for others. There is an action. In the examples above, we saw verbs like unleash, connect, and help. Simply following this format will strengthen your own brand purpose.
‘Girl Power’ as a Brand Purpose
In their quest for fame and superstardom, the Spice Girls knew they wanted their music and careers to be meaningful. They didn’t approach their work with the goal to sell millions of albums or concert tickets. That may have been part of what they wanted to do, but it wasn’t their WHY.
Instead, the Spice Girls existed to unify young girls and inspire them with the confidence to do anything. It all started with their well-known mantra, ‘Girl Power’.
Its meaning may seem implied, but when asked about ‘Girl Power’ in 1997, Scary Spice said:
“It’s about spreading a positive vibe, kicking it for the girls… It’s not about picking up guys. We don’t need men to control our life. We control our lives anyway.”
This purpose was consistent in everything they did, including the lyrics to their songs, like Wannabe. Also, in the Spice Girls movie, Ginger Spice scares off a suitor by mentioning the word feminism.
The ethos of ‘Girl Power’ clearly resonated with the Spice Girls’ millions of fans. They sold over 100 million records and topped every major albums chart around the world. It gave their music and work a deeper meaning, which created a deeper connection with their fans.
Not to mention, the Spice Girls embraced individuality, with each member having their own style and unique personality. This gave their young fans someone to look up to and identify with as they established their own social circles. For what it’s worth, I always loved Ginger Spice.
Their strong brand purpose led to even more Spice mania, with the group being named ‘the most merchandised band in history,’ according to Wikipedia. The article went on to cite a quote from John Mckie of BBC stating that while other stars had used brand endorsements in the past, “the Spice brand was the first to propel the success of the band”.
‘s Sylvia Patterson also wrote of what she called the Spice Girls’ true legacy: “[T]hey were the original pioneers of the band as brand, of pop as a ruthless marketing ruse, of the merchandising and sponsorship deals that have dominated commercial pop ever since.”
Fun fact: The Spice Girls dolls are the best-selling celebrity dolls of all time.
‘Girl Power’ – From Lyrics to Copywriting
If it weren’t for an ad for an “all female pop act” published on March 4, 1994 in the British newspaper, The Stage, we may not have the Spice Girls. The want-ad called for women ages 18 to 23 with the ability to sing and dance. Over 600 girls responded, 400 auditioned, and only five were selected.
And then, the Spice Girls’ very own feminist movement began. They started living out their purpose.
Although your brand may not have lyrics like the Spice Girls do, you still create messaging. You don’t sing to your audience, but you communicate. You are empowered to share a brand purpose.
The takeaway: make sure your message is rooted in something more meaningful than your brand itself.
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