The two senses that will lead you to your brand purpose


The quest to find your Brand Purpose can be one of the most gratifying experiences that you undertake. There is something that feels honorable about pursuing that thing that will lead to your organization defining how it will make a profound difference in a life, a community, or even the world.

Don’t get me wrong. There will be work involved. There always is with anything worthwhile. But there is something different between the toil and labor that the mundane tasks of the day demand and this search for purpose. I almost hate to use the word ‘work’ to define the quest. This is a different kind of work. It can be challenging. It can push your limits. But it should be exhilarating. It should ignite a passion among your team. And when that a-ha moment arrives, it should be accompanied by goosebumps.

Every time I’ve gone on this journey, I’ve been reminded of perhaps the two most important senses that will guide our way. A sense of wonder and a sense of humor.

A sense of wonder

Cynicism can be useful. It can help you do a reality check when it seems that everyone is drinking the Kool-Aid. But it can also be a dangerous crutch. It’s easy to be cynical. It doesn’t take any emotional investment. It doesn’t require that you put yourself out there, vulnerable to criticism. As such, it can be an innovation killer.


When you’re preparing to embark on a discovery of purpose, cynicism can be the anchor that drags along the bottom, slowing you to a snail’s pace (okay, a sea snail – just to stay with the nautical theme.)

This is why a sense of wonder is crucial.

Wonder is that child-like state of being that allows us to see something special in the ordinary. If you have children, I don’t need to explain. After all, how many times did you answer the question, "What is that?” Or, “Why does it do that?”  Ad nauseam.

Looking back, I miss those days. Because that was wonder at work. Little minds like sponges absorbing the world around them. Immune to cynicism. Finding wonder in the most ordinary things.

This is what we need. A sense of wonder that powerful. Imagine what it would allow us to discover as we search for our  purpose.

A sense of humor

I love authors that can express the profound with a wry smile. Mark Twain is one of the best. Here is one of my favorite quotes from him:

The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.  - Mark Twain

I use that one quite a bit when I talk about discovering and defining a Big Audacious Meaning. The humor is subtle. But isn’t that the best kind?

Humor relieves tension, allowing people to relax, engage, and contribute. More importantly, it humanizes a situation. It reminds us that we are all driven by a need to find happiness. And that’s what a brand purpose is really about – identifying that thing that makes us feel like we are making a difference in a life, a community, or even the world. There is incredible joy that comes with knowing that you are helping to have a profound impact on those around you.

A sense of humor allows us to drop defenses and embrace a child-like sense of wonder. Give it a try. Next time you’re in a “serious” meeting, tell a joke. Make fun of yourself. Hell, put on a clown nose. Then watch what happens to the room. You’ll see a change in demeanor. You’ll even see posture change as people relax and become more open.

Find the harmony. Find the purpose.

A sense of wonder lets our mind soar. A sense of humor keeps us grounded. They are the yin and yang of our brand purpose quest. When they are in harmony, it allows us to see things and express things in ways that step outside of the ordinary. It gives a glimpse of the things that stir our souls. That inspire us. That is rarefied territory. That is where purpose is found.

Dan Salva is a co-founder of Will & Grail, with more than three decades of experience in brand marketing and developing and implementing go-to-market strategies. He can be reached at

PurposeDan Salva