At Studio North we work with all kinds of businesses, helping them to craft a brand DNA model that aligns with their corporate vision and business strategy. It doesn’t really matter whether it’s a fast-growth business scaling up, a family firm experiencing generational change or a global corporation trying to unite cultures, they all, at some point, have to understand and define their brand purpose – or their why. A cornerstone of our approach to branding.
It can be a powerful device, rooted in authenticity and a solid building block of trust. For attracting and retaining talent, standout marketing, self-inspiring success and ultimately, to realise the grand vision. Consequently, brands with absolute clarity of purpose financially outperform those without.
Growth and purpose.
When we are working with organisations, quite often defining this purpose isn’t a straightforward task. It’s much easier with smaller businesses – especially in their infancy – where that original ‘driving’ purpose is clearly dominated by the founder or CEO. He or she might require some cajoling and outside-in perspective but it’s usually buried somewhere between their head, heart and gut. Our role could be simplified and described as extraction, distillation and articulation.
With larger organisations, there are wider cultural and commercial influences. It’s quite likely the original purpose has already been diluted and since evolved to satisfy the changing demands of the world and the passions and skills of more than one individual. In this respect, our task also involves a significant degree of alignment, something we facilitate between multiple stakeholders using interactive workshop processes.
Some organisations are naturally more ‘purposeful’ than others and can cut through the noise of competitors’ marketing communications by sharing their why before their what (they do). This is probably leveraged more in B2C brands but the same opportunity is equally relevant in the B2B space. In fact, arguably there is greater opportunity given less are doing it well.
The perfect brand storm.
We helped our client, David Luke – a family business doing great things in the school uniforms sector – to shape the following brand purpose:
To lead the school uniform market in ethically sourced and fairly traded premium quality garments, towards a future in which our uniforms represent an ethos of fairer and sustainable communities. Where people care enough to change, and where price is important but not at the expense of the real values of life.
We headlined this as ‘The fabric of fairer & sustainable communities’. In their space, it’s differentiating, it’s desirable to their target audience and because it’s truly authentic (not just marketing waffle) it’s delivered day-to-day. A perfect brand storm if you will and one that is helping year-on-year commercial growth.
When it comes to an organisation with truly international reach, we recently worked with NASDAQ-listed, Nordson Corporation, who post annual sales in excess of $1.6 billion. Working out why over 6000 people in more than 30 countries get up and go to work in the morning involved an extensive consultation process. We travelled to the USA and Europe to interview leaders, managers and colleagues, spoke to customers and conducted a series of brand workshops at the corporation’s HQ in Westlake, Ohio. In collaboration with the client, we crafted the following brand purpose, a statement that would unify various sub-divisions, products, services and territories.
Enabling customers to improve their manufacturing process, produce better products and become even more competitive.
Even in the world of manufacturing, purpose matters and truly motivates. It exists at the intersection of what you are good at and what you enjoy doing. If this also happens to solve a customer problem and satisfy strong commercial demand then bingo, you likely have a solid business on your hands. Of course, this utopian intersection isn’t always a crystal clear reality and this is where external expertise such as ours can significantly help understand external perceptions and improve self-awareness.
Sharing a clear vision will provide the necessary strategic direction for people within an organisation but having a strong purpose – authentic and bought into – will unite and inspire everyone to get there sooner. If you don’t yet understand your true brand purpose then maybe it’s time you started.