brand purpose

Optimize Customer Experiences Using Brand Purpose + Data Driven Storytelling

The old rules of business were ruled by what GE dubbed TQM or Total Quality Management. Winning companies would win or lose based on their ability to deliver a quality product, seamlessly and consistently.  In their view, TQM would sustain customer loyalty and assure a category or market leadership position.  For the past decade, we have rapidly left that notion behind in lieu of the age of TEM – Total Experience Management.

As mass commodification has impacted all industries, it’s become harder and harder for a brand to stand out. Consequently, storytelling and the authentic content experiences it creates, has become one of the leading ways brands can engage with customers to drive distinction and competitive advantage.

The big news out of 64th International Festival of Creativity in Cannes, was that the current approach to content development, where storytelling is still pushed to the end of the supply chain, is missing authenticity – a brand voice.  This explains why many customers are moving from big brands to smaller ones as they tell better stories, infused with purpose and authenticity, to create winning experiences.  Simply put, if you want to compete in today’s marketplace you need to embrace TEM through a lens of purpose.

The bright and shiny objects no longer win, unless they are married with insights that make experiences go from good to great through personalized, emotionally engaging moments that set you apart from the pack.  Emotional engagement is based upon the stimulation of the heart.    In today’s experience economy, emotional engagement is proving to be a critical factor in achieving winning results throughout every customer journey, and effective, data-driven storytelling is at the heart of this movement.

With all this in mind, thinking about how to gain competitive advantage in the marketing realm today – inside and outside of the organization – marketers must capture key insights and then apply the principles of needs-based, experience design, combined with an understanding of the levers that impact each experience differently, in order to bring the brand to life for each customer.  No longer can a CMO do this from pure instinct, or in a silo.  They must listen, analyze and interpret data across all customer touchpoints, online and offline, and then use these insights to inform experience development.

brand purpose and storytelling

The formula for success in today’s CMO is simple:

Brand Purpose + Data Driven Storytelling = Optimized Customer Experiences

Note: Take this short survey for a free audit of your brand’s approach to purpose driven storytelling: Free Brand Purpose Storytelling Audit

Organizations that use artful storytelling to create winning experiences are the ones who are leading our new era of collaborative commerce forward – and moving product, improving engagement and retaining employees.  What follows are optimized experience frameworks that help bring this equation to life for each customer – B2B, B2C and B2E – and real-world examples of how purpose-driven thought leaders are bringing such experiences to life today.

1) B2B Experience

Pivoting from a product centric approach to one that is experience-based, B2B companies are harnessing creativity and technology to tell winning stories that will help educate, inform and activate necessary change in this period of business transformation. The following are the spheres of influence shaping an optimized B2B experiences that can be sharpened through an informed purpose-driven thought leadership platform:

Sphere 1:  Economic

Develop products and services stories that demonstrate contribution to positive earnings and to long-term value to shareholders.

Sphere 2:  Innovation 

Deliver innovative content solutions that capitalize on the strategic marriage of creativity + technology.

Sphere 3:  Agility/Transformative Ability 

Demonstrate necessary pivots that deliver competitive advantage and change.

Sphere 4:  Aspirational Motivation

Enable contribution to the world (and business) as much as the bottom-line and create moments that are aspirational and give people a reason to believe + engage.

Sphere 5:  Brand/Engagement

Develop engagement across all key constituencies to optimize the customer journey and improve financial performance.

A B2B Experience:  GE

GE focuses on telling engaging stories that make sense for businesses.  They invite customers in to see ‘Imagination at Work’, and give customers a reason to believe and engage with their innovation that builds, powers, moves & cures the world.  By harnessing storytelling, creativity and technology via content on digital platforms, including Instagram, Tumblr and YouTube, GE is delivering on their desired business outcomes:

  1. Increase audience awareness of the scope of what GE does and highlight positive experiences with the brand.
  2. Support pipeline for young engineering and business talent.
  3. Drive interest among the next generation of potential shareholders. The company needs to attract the next generation of shareholders.

2) B2C Experience

Consumers today want to be a part of a brand that does more than give them immediate gratification from a product or service. They want to become a part of a brand that they believe in – a brand voice –  one that can enrich their daily lives in ways that create meaningful and impactful engagement.  Conveying the cornerstone of your company’s purpose-driven thought leadership in ways that bridge to the world at large, beyond the bottom-line, is critical to success in today’s environment. Today’s best B2C experiences are defined by telling informed stories that impact the following spheres of influence and create emotional engagement:

Sphere 1:  Aspirational Motivation

Offer people the opportunity to believe in the brand through meaningful interactions.

Sphere 2:  Trust

Work to build a connection between the customer and the brand by showing that you care about what your consumers care about.

Sphere 3:  Personalization/ Loyalty 

Capitalize on real-time, predictive data, analytics and insights to create the experiences consumers want, before they know they want them, which will enhance consumer loyalty and advocacy.

Sphere:  Empathy

Fortify trust and a reason to believe by humanizing the brand and bringing a purpose-driven Living Brand to life.

Sphere 5:  Education

Build meaningful differentiation from competitors through empathic and
purpose-driven stories that inform, entertain and delight and heighten impact and effectiveness.

A B2C Experience:  Casper

Casper’s founders believed if you’re going to convince consumers to trust you that sleep is a pursuit as worthy of obsession as exercise or eating, you have to approach (the story arcs of empathy and education) differently.  Casper is combining science, design thinking, branding, and a winking sense of humor to redefine the humble mattress into lifestyle stories with a new cohort of evangelists proselytizing that the key to productivity and overall health stems from maximizing the quality of our slumber. Casper also upended some fundamental assumptions about consumer behavior that word-of-mouth sales would be impossible to generate because nobody talks about their mattress, a notion that was shattered by an immediate boom in viral unboxing videos that captured the exciting experience.

3) B2E Experience

According to HBR, 89% of executives surveyed said a strong sense of collective purpose drives employee satisfaction; 84% said it can affect an organization’s ability to transform; and 80% said it helps increase customer and employee loyalty.  To operationalize your purpose-driven narrative into mantras that bring your brand purpose to life inside your organization, consider how the following spheres of influence can help you create an authentic B2E experience that delights, informs and engages:

Sphere 1: Aspirational Motivation

Work to inculcate storytelling directly into culture through training and a process of

Sphere 2: Leadership + Core Values:  Trust

Develop mantras through a lens of inclusion to be truly authentic and representative of

both brand and employee values.

Sphere 3: Reward + Recognition

Create appropriate reward & recognition strategies to reaffirm purpose-driven behavior.

Sphere 4: Education 

Facilitate workshops and build a Living Brand content hub where all physical content is made digital and showcase employees bringing the mantras to life.

Sphere: Immersion

Create distinct opportunities to “live the brand” for all of your employees such as
hyper-localized community giving programs or branded internal events that celebrate your employees.

A B2E Experience: W.L. Gore

The executive team began to see trends that employees were anxious that slow decision-making and a lack of risk taking might be weighing on Gore’s entrepreneurial endeavors.  At Gore, the risk of an innovation slowdown was particularly serious. Strong leadership, rooted in the company’s core values, worked quickly to streamline decision-making, encouraged the formation of small startup teams that were motivated to explore new ventures and also created an in-house team called the Innovation Center of Expertise to shepherd (and reward) promising employee ideas.

Todd A. Myers is the Chief Strategy Officer at BRANDthropologie Media. He will lead client engagements to directly connect purpose positioning to value creation and content solutions. You can follow him on Twitter at @ToddMyers123 

Note: Take this short survey for a free audit of your brand’s approach to purpose driven storytelling: Free Brand Purpose Storytelling Audit

purpose driven brands

What We Can Learn From These 3 Purpose-Driven Brands

Harvard Business Review defines purpose as: 

“An aspirational reason for being which inspires and provides a call to action for an organization and its partners and stakeholders and provides benefit to local and global society.”

What this means to me is that the greatest opportunity any leader has is to establish a clear and accessible, inclusive vision for the future that makes tomorrow better than today.  A vision that people can trust in and rally aroundIt is reasonable to expect a respected and visionary leader to assess the state of affairs, harness insights from all constituencies, inside and outside of the organization, to define a purposeful vision and narrative that engages all stakeholders.  But what path is the most authentic for your brand to take?

Our collaborative purpose-driven economy is impacting businesses of all kinds, as people increasingly want to do business with, and work for, brands that contribute as much to the world at large as they do the bottom line.   We know that consumers are no longer engaging with communications focused on products and services – the what you do, but rather, they are looking for aspirational stories that give them a reason to believe – the why.  I believe that future leaders will create strategies grounded in purpose and inclusion that bridge the gap between the private and public sectors.

collaborative economy

‘Purpose’ is a big word and is somewhat unapproachable to many leaders, but it needn’t be. It’s important to note that leading with purpose is not a one size fits all approach.  It can take many shapes but must be authentic to your brand. To illustrate this, I thought I’d share three examples of purposeful leadership that might serve as a thought-starter to begin a dialog and create a ‘way in’ to get you thinking: ‘Hey, I do something like that?’ or ‘How do I define a purpose that is authentic to my brand?’ or ‘Does purpose matter for my company?’

Note: Take this short survey for a free audit of your brand’s approach to purpose driven storytelling: Free Brand Purpose Storytelling Audit

  1. Small steps have huge impact Mark Benioff, CEO Salesforce

Named one of the top innovators by Forbes, Mark Benioff’s most unique quality is his commitment to societal issues.  One of his quotes encapsulates this philosophy: “The business of doing business is to improve the state of the world.”   When Benioff started Salesforce, he established the 1-1-1 model – called Pledge 1% – whereby Salesforce contributes one percent of product, one percent of equity, and one percent of employee hours back to the communities it serves globally.  With Benifoff’s purposeful leadership, Salesforce removed the barriers of giving to create change and create a community of good people doing good things.  The impact of his leadership has led to powering 28,000 nonprofits with Salesforce technology, more than $115 million in grants and 1.3 million employee volunteer hours.  An added benefit to the world, a pay-it-forward moment if you will, is that Benioff’s vision for caring as much about the world as he did the bottom line has inspired more than 700 companies to adopt the Pledge 1% – and, we can only imagine, that these 700 companies inspired more companies to join Pledge 1%, and so on and so on.

  1. Create a rallying cry around a grander issue Neil Blumenthal & David Gilboa, co-CEOs Warby Parker

The four founders of Warby Parker (Neil Blumenthal, David Gilboa Jeffrey Raider & Andrew Hunt) began with a simple mission to make affordable, fashionable eyewear and committed to a familiar pay forward a pair of glasses, or the value of a pair of glasses with every pair purchased – over 1 Million pairs paid forward so far.   They were named one of the most innovative companies by Fast Company, in part because of their innovative retail strategy, but also because Blumenthal & Giboa’s leadership went one step in their commitment to make the world a better place and further and included a larger global issue in their vision – sight.  More than 15% of the world’s population are unable to work or learn properly because they have eyesight problems.  Without proper eyesight, those already suffering from low incomes are likely to be trapped in poverty indefinitely with an economic loss estimated at over $200 billion, annually. Blumenthal & Giboa’s leadership has led to funding entrepreneurial activities in the developing world related to sight and have begun to change the narrative on ‘sight’ for future generations.

  1. Competition meets Compassion Hamdi Ulukaya, CEO Chobani

Named one of the most innovative companies of 2017 by Fast Company, Hamdi Ulukaya forged a new kind of leadership – one that fuses competitiveness with an unusually strong sense of compassion.  Ulkaya’s leadership is in line with how we counsel our clients at BRANDthropologie – the new economic engine where business growth and innovation is fueled by collaboration between the private and public sectors contributes to the world, as much as the bottom line. Under Ulukaya’s leadership, his vision is to make the world a better place not just for some, but for all the communities that they touch.  In just the past year, Ulukaya has led with compassion and empathy and put a great deal of thought into cultivating a internal culture of warmth and enthusiasm that most people wouldn’t associate with a factory setting, launched a program to give away up to 10% of the Company’s equity to their workers and instituted a generous six-week parental-leave policy.  And, this vision connects with consumers as well, as Chobani has captured more than 19% of the overall yogurt market?

I think we are in a new era where leaders must think about how they can bridge the gap between the public and private sectors, change the way we work and look at and engage with the communities in which we live. The future is now.  There is a call to action for purposeful leadership that thinks beyond the bottom line to make tomorrow better than it is today.  How will you lead?

Todd A. Myers is the Chief Strategy Officer at BRANDthropologie Media. He will lead client engagements to directly connect purpose positioning to value creation and content solutions. You can follow him on Twitter at @ToddMyers123


do better

Do More, Do Better

I know where my passion, expertise and skill set lie and the cultures in which I thrive. Working with smart people, brand marketing & partnerships, consumer insights & cultural trends that allow me to see and understand ‘what’s next’, content development & perhaps most importantly, doing something that positively impacts the world.

This probably helps explain why I have been happiest and most fulfilled in my career when I have guided brands to the future based on new technology and trends in ways that changed the way business is done, and allowed me to flex my entrepreneurial muscles in a manner that transcended mere profit to yield true purpose.

My current collaboration with Billee Howard – BRANDthropologie Media – is a creative consultancy built around purposeful inclusion that fuses all of my passions under one umbrella. What I’m most thrilled about my new role is the canvas I have to work with top brands, and the leaders who steward them, to begin to etch out what positive and meaningful change can and should look like in these polarizing times.  To provide the most value that bridges the gap between the public and private sectors and activate powerful change, we have developed a methodology that helps brands identify their purpose and then creates the content experiences that will help define distinction and positively impact the bottom line.  Think McKinsey meets NBCUniversal. McKinBC!  FINALLY, a role that gives me license to meld my business acumen with my passion for creativity and content.  FINALLY, a role that lets me unite my professional aspirations with my personal interests to effect positive transformation.

I am a risk taker, and as such, am not unfamiliar with being too early to the party with a product, idea or solution, but this feels different.  We are at a cultural flashpoint where it’s never been more important for brands to pick up the ball that the Government has so obviously fumbled.  I believe that what we have fought for so hard in the past – everything from basic civil rights to (more specific) disability and LGBTQ rights will continue to be called into question amidst this time of great uncertainty and upheaval.  As a result, we must all step up and have our voices count as the fight has just begun.  In today’s environment, the private sector can be a powerful amplifier of our voices, and our partner in not only maintaining the impactful changes of the past, but also ensuring the promise of further progress that strives to make tomorrow better than today.

My hands down favorite TED talk is Simon Sinek’s ‘How Great Leaders Inspire Action’.  I affectionately refer to this talk as ‘The Power of Why’.  People don’t buy what you do but why you do it. This mission of finding ways to profit with purpose will not only lead us to the protection of our rights and the continued progress we all crave, but also bring value to the brands leading this charge, setting a new standard of what business excellence should look like. Whether you are a newly-minted graduate choosing an organization to join, a community looking to partner with a brand, OR a shareholder deciding if you should increase your position in a stock, purpose will without question emerge as a critical bellwether in determining the answer to each and every one of these questions.

In our collaborative purpose-driven economy, day-to-day business practice must demonstrate that a brand cares as much about leaving the world a better place as it does about improving its own bottom-line.  I am not alone in this assertion.  Look no further than Fast Company’s ‘Find Your Purpose’ issue, The Harvard Business Review E&Y Study:  The Business Case for Purpose, Davos 2017, or even the purposeful inclusion cadence that set the rhythm for nearly every commercial at this year’s Super Bowl and Oscar Awards broadcast.  It has never been more important for brands to demonstrate that we are stronger together than we are divided.

I’ve had a personal mantra since I lost one of my dearest high school friends several years ago:  Do More, Do Better.  I pledge to live each and every day obeying that guiding mantra and I invite each and everyone of you to join me. United we stand. United we rise.

Todd A. Myers is the Chief Strategy Officer at BRANDthropologie Media. He will lead client engagements to directly connect purpose positioning to value creation and content solutions. You can follow him on Twitter at @ToddMyers123