Guided by our SMO US-based consultant, Justin Lee: purpose-driven organization management tips, “Learn from the Strategy of Purpose Driven Brands”.

Here’s a case study from Evernote.

Evernote – Purpose Discovery Case Study –

Evernote, a note app that has many users in Japan, has undergone a brand refresh based on purpose when it celebrated its 10th anniversary. Here’s how Evernote discovered its purpose and connected it to the brand.


At that time, Evernote was in its 10th year, with user needs changing and the ways the app  was being used diversifying.. Under these circumstances, in order to grow further, it was necessary to build a system that would allow customers to have an experience in line with the brand, from product development to the provision of customer service.


・First step


Before creating the brand concept and visual identity, the company’s brand team started by defining purpose, the core of the brand. The brand team went back to the starting point and asked the founder who had already left the company to find out how the company was founded. On the other hand, they conducted qualitative and quantitative research on customers, who are external stakeholders, and extracted the essence of purpose formation. Through customer surveys, the team learned that each user has different values ​​to offer. For example, organizing information, improving productivity, coming up with ideas, and collaborating. Digging deeper, they uncovered a key finding. It was that Evernote had an information overload regardless of the user. According to the brand team, people are processing more information than the human brain can handle.


・Identification of core ideas


The brand team thought it was Evernote’s role to overcome this situation. The central idea is “Focus”. The brand team combined the belief that people should spend their time on the things that really matter and “focus”, and put it into the expression of purpose.


The company’s CEO explains: “Our purpose is simple. We are here to help people focus on what really matters.”

Based on this redefined purpose, the brand team formulated the brand DNA. Evernote’s brand DNA is narrowed down to four words.


  1. Optimistic
  2. Clever
  3. Confident
  4. Clear


The brand team then set out to create a visual identity based on a clear system of purpose and DNA. Furthermore, they are promoting company-wide decision-making based on this system in all departments, from product development to customer support.


・Factors for success in formulating a purpose


Before ending this case study, I would like to touch upon one success factor in purpose development. It is the structure of the project. The company’s brand team emphasizes input from all perspectives and believes that the brand represents the entire company, so it is essential to involve the entire company. The people who actually participated in the project from product development, operations, marketing, sales, customer support, etc. were selected. As a result, the employees will be more satisfied with the finished product, will want to support the renewed brand philosophy, and will connect that philosophy to their own work and output.


As Evernote showed us, a brand refresh is all about taking the time to carefully define your brand’s reason for being across the company. It can be said that the first step of purpose branding is to involve more employees and carefully formulate a purpose.