Inspiring Our Future Through a History of Purpose

At SAP, our founding purpose is to build technology that helps customers improve the economy, the environment, and society as whole — to ultimately help the world run better and improve people’s lives.

That relationship has guided our spirit of innovation over the last 46 years. It has driven us to develop tools powering conservation efforts in Africa and to find new ways to increase transparency in the supply chain in order to end forced labor. Our SAP history is rich with examples like these, and it offers a roadmap that we will continue to follow.

Purpose is ingrained in the DNA of SAP

When I started my role as chief marketing officer eight months ago, one of the first things I noticed was the amazing story we had as a brand, but how we often struggled in how to tell it. Purpose has always been ingrained in the DNA of SAP, yet it seemed missing from the way we communicate with our employees and our entire global community. I truly believe a brand is only as strong as its story, so I made it my goal to bring this back to the forefront.

Today, it’s an honor for me to reveal our renewed brand narrative, which places our history of purpose-driven innovation front and center to better define our mission of improving people’s lives through technology. As we’ve engaged with employees, customers, partners, and many stakeholders, we’ve realized that there is no anchor that speaks more to the core, culture, and values of what it means to run SAP than purpose. Our long-time partners and customers will recognize much of what we’ll be communicating — as this framework was designed as a natural reflection of who we are as a company at our inception — but the way we tell it has evolved.

Part of our ability to tell this story authentically, relies on rethinking the way we build connections. In today’s environment, where purpose has become the No. 1 driver of brand value, organizations need to be more audience inclusive. Rather than differentiate between B2B or B2C, brands need to recognize that everyone is a consumer with their own capacity for making an emotional connection to a business. For decades, SAP has been most comfortable owning how we support what underpins the good being done in this world. We intend on taking a new role in championing our customer successes in a way that speaks to everyone.

Each of the 89,000 employees at SAP has their own purpose, their own story to tell

According to EY, 87 percent of business leaders believe that companies perform best over time if purpose goes beyond profit. Yet, this is entirely dependent on whether you see purpose as a strategic initiative or a marketing initiative. Long-term success requires buy-in from the entire organization; it needs to be a movement. Each of the 89,000 employees at SAP has their own purpose, their own story to tell. It was mission-critical for us that they saw their values and priorities reflected in this narrative, so we spent several months in the trenches with our employees before revealing our story today.

As a marketer, it’s especially humbling to lead this endeavor. We have a responsibility to effectively communicate the narrative of our company and show why what we do matters in today’s world. It’s been an incredible opportunity to be able to craft a story that reflects what consumers are after today: truth, authenticity, and companies that have courage. With all the voices and opinions that are out there, companies today must have a voice that is reflective of what we enable and what we believe in.

In the coming weeks, expect to see new stories and examples of SAP partnerships and the purpose we drive. We’ll be launching new cross-medium campaigns — a total top-to-bottom refresh, so stay tuned! In the meantime, you can find an advanced preview below, including our latest television spot featuring Clive Owen.

Interested in learning more about the brand narrative? Find me at @aliciatillman.

Alicia Tillman is chief marketing officer at SAP.