"And what is it you do?"
The Queen knows how to ask a good question. We should ask it more often of brands, especially if we follow it up with "And who do you do it for?"
This is, of course, neither a new nor original approach - but that doesn't mean it's not valuable. In fact, it might be more appropriate now than ever, because what we define as the 'activity' of a brand can describe so much about it. It certainly does a lot better than a nebulous statement that too often passes for 'purpose'.
A law firm in South Africa described its business as "to strengthen". It worked powerfully when linked to a wider, deeper idea of prosperity for its wider set of stakeholders, in particular with the BEE imperatives and its focus on diversity.
A UK accounting firm decided on "to build". It was a perfect recognition of the type of client and relationship the firm was renowned for. And when turned inwards, it provided the belief for a new sense of direction and ambition.
In both cases, not only was the verb an expression of core truths and evidence in the business, it described the beliefs and values of the firm, and locked-in the engagement with key people.
It feels like a good test for 'purpose' statements. If your verb works for internal and external audiences, if it can be proved in your everyday activities (even if it needs to be pulled from the "this is us at our best" depths to the surface) and if it describes the people who both benefit from and should commit to the idea, you probably have the answer.