What can we learn about building a compelling and distinct purpose for a brand or business, from organisations as diverse as Google Creative Labs and Choccywoccydoodah?
Well, thanks to the Lost Lectures mini-phenomenon (“enchanting talks from secret locations”), a big dose of inspiration was received last week from six eclectic 20min talks packed into one interesting evening. And the highpoints were Steve Vranakis, Creative Director of Google Creative Labs, and Christine Taylor, Founder of Choccywoccydoodah – the Brighton based art/design focussed decadent chocolaterie.
Despite being from totally different worlds, they had several things in common that made them inspiring, with useful learnings for us in how we set and implement purpose for brands and business, an ever more important skill marketers will need to learn as consumers get more savvy at wanting to know more, feel more, from businesses than just a drive for sales and profit. My top 3 learnings are:
1. Have purpose that lights a fire of ideas
Both Google and Choccy have very strong driving missions at their heart, they truly believe that it’s not about what you do it’s about why you do it (Simon Sinek‘s masterpiece) – in each case, the purpose was an active thing that drove ideas and culture.
For Google Creative Labs, the headline purpose is about “Doing good, with code -and making technology matter”,
They used the mission as a living breathing thing in the businsess by which to invent, reinvent, and judge their own success. He took us through examples of WebLab (online/offline experiments at the Science Museum) and the Google Science Fair (for teens), and the YouTube Space Lab. These demonstrated the second part of the mission Steve talked about, which revolves around what information access can accomplish in the world – “using it to inspire, educate and spark the next generation of explorers and scientists”. Behind this sits strong believes that value explorers and scientists, and believes that access to information can positively impact the next generation. This is a great rich purpose that goes way beyond the category. There’s no ‘make super efficient software’ or ‘be number 1’ or ‘have the most innovative customer solutions’ – yawn, but we’ve all seen them on strategy documents!
For Choccywoccydoodah, “it’s never been about money, it’s about the journey, the adventure, the people, the art. We’re a cross between a cult and an asylum, dipped in chocolate”. Again, a really unique sense of purpose, they’re driven by art and by the fun of working together to create it. Makes it seem so unique and different to mass produced chocolate and cakes, and is the epitome of the anti-corporate edgey arty underground you expect from Brighton. As Christine said, they’re artists who happen to make cake and chocolate. If they didn’t, they’d be artists working with some other material. The important thing is they create art.
2. Keep to clear simple language
One business is very technical, the other very artistic. Both talked in very simple clear terms with no jargon. Google said it’s because they focus on the user. Their ‘subheading’ under the purpose is to ‘Organise the world’s information and make it useful and accessible’. I found it interesting that they’re not trying to make the words ownable, they are making the purpose in it’s entireity ownable . Too many marketers try to get clever with the thesaurus and end up missing the wood for the trees. By comparison ChoccyWoccy just have a very down to earth approach and language, and seemingly no tolerance for bullsit or jargon. They don’t even have a written down ‘mission’, or ‘purpose’, they just live it and talk about it all the time.
3. Get good with Soundbites
Implementing purpose can sometimes mean having to tackle big ideas, big issues. It’s easy to overcomplicate things, and feel like you have to explain a lot to make your point. But both of these speakers were both great at the short memorable phrases that packed a punch and communicated how their purpose manifested itself – they didn’t take the long way round. My favourite quotes included:
“We think big, but start small” (Google)
“If you involve people, they’re more forgiving” (Google)
“They didn’t realise they had genius til I showed them” (choccy)
And my personal favourite…
“Let’s not forget, today’s celebration cake is just tomorrow’s shit” (choccy)
Overall, stunningly inspiring evening, I recommend a Lost Lectures evening to all. (Except the less said about ‘Fleet Street Fox’, the better…!)