I’m very fortunate to be working with two wonderful brands at the moment, in two completely different worlds. The first is a drug in the infectious disease space that’s going to revolutionise treatment and save a lot of lives. The second is a leisure attraction that is helping children’s development through play.
On the surface, they couldn’t be further apart; one talks about carbapenems, the other about creativity. But when I think about what makes working on each of them so rewarding, a significant similarity emerges.
Like all of the best brands, each is driven by a powerful, genuine purpose. In the same way that the team at Unilever who work on Dove are focused on campaigning for real beauty, rather than simply selling deodorant and face cream, my two current clients have greater a motivation that gives me a buzz each time I work with them.
And if I’m getting a buzz, as an agency partner, can you imagine what it must be like to work for one of these companies? We work with lots of clients to help their people deliver the brand, on the ground each and every day. Giving them a real reason to get out of bed every day, rather than just clocking in, means half the battle is done.
This higher purpose isn’t just a hippy notion that ignores the metrics of your business, either. When your people understand your mission and are with you on the journey, it’s no surprise that these aligned organisations have twice the share of wallet and half the absenteeism of misaligned organisations (Gallup). In a four year study of employee engagement, M&S found that stores with improving employee engagement contributed £62 million more sales than those with disengaged employees. Inspiring your people with your purpose is good business.
So many company visions, missions and ambitions (insert your preferred noun here) are purely driven by financial targets and gains in market share. These are, of course, hugely important, but more often than not they’re incomprehensible to the people who are delivering your brand experience each and every day, and an X% gain in market share is hardly likely to inspire them in the same way that it does your CFO. The mantra behind Dove’s campaign for real beauty has inspired employees and consumers alike, and the numbers inevitably follow – a sales increase from $2.5 billion to $4 billion isn’t a bad return.
So our advice, when you’re next sitting around the board table, is to reconsider your vision. Does it make your colleagues leap out of bed every day? Do they understand what they’re working towards and why? And don’t feel bad if the answer to some of these questions is ‘no’. According to the Charter Institute of Marketing and their Customer Experience study, only 8% of Directors believe that their brand promise is consistently delivered throughout the customer experience. You are not alone.
But, as Dove have shown, it really is rewarding, in every sense of the word, if you can get it right.