Every organization possesses something very deep within that differentiates it from its competitors: something intrinsic to its essence—its own soul. We call this idea DISTINCTION. Unlike competitive advantage, which results from a company having assembled a portfolio of core competencies and activities that can be imitated by anyone with the right resources, DISTINCTION emerges from a company’s own “DNA,” which, like the spots of a leopard or the stripes of a tiger, cannot be replicated. Uncovering one’s unique DISTINCTION and embedding it into strategy, culture, and brand is business’s greatest commercial opportunity.
As the foundation of DISTINCTION, Purpose identifies the unique difference an organization can make to the lives of its customers—not just by providing products and services that competitors cannot replicate, but also by addressing its customer’s intangible insecurities in ways that competitors cannot.
Raj Sisodia’s book Firms of Endearment, reports that purpose-driven companies provided returns of 1,646% between 1996 and 2011. This is staggering growth when compared to 157% for the S&P 500 and 178% for the companies featured in Good to Great. Sisodia’s research shows that corporate purpose is the single most powerful tool for affecting both top and bottom line growth.