We recently won a "Best Place to Work" award from our local business journal. Getting the award was nice, but how it happened was what really impressed me. One of our employees saw the nomination and tipped me on to it, saying “This would align well with our purpose.” Our purpose is something we all know and repeat often here at Golden Spiral: To be a great place to work, to be great to work with and to do great work.
We go over this goal quarterly with our entire team, alongside our values, target audience, quarterly sales goals, and progress toward our annual, three-year, and five-year goals. All is transparent. All is known by everyone. Because of this, our entire team sees their work and opportunities through the lens of our purpose. It’s a shared understanding, our common thread. This goes beyond the standard mission, vision, values statements that we see frequently from other companies (which are essential in their own right). Our purpose is the reason for us existing, the "why" the world needs Golden Spiral and the reason we come to work each day.
Our desire to uncover a brand's purpose extends to our client engagements. We spend a great deal of time at the beginning of most every project helping our clients into this “why” mentality, typically in an off-site retreat setting. These conversations help both of us dissect what makes their company different, what sets them apart, and who they are as a team. It also challenges leadership to honestly communicate with each other about who they are as a company while rallying the team around a common purpose.
Because these types of conversations don’t happen naturally in the daily office grind, we’ve found that they bring up themes and values that probably haven’t been articulated among the group as a whole — at least not in these terms. When they are articulated, however, the effect is profound. Here are two real-life examples of the power of “why”:
Case Study #1: Concert Genetics
A great example of the power of “why” comes from Concert Genetics (formerly NextGxDx). Their team has a remarkable mission: to connect and unify the world of genetic testing. However, they struggled to bring cohesiveness into a seemingly diverse group of services for health plans, hospitals, labs, clinicians, governing organizations, and patients. They had separate offerings for each group but didn’t know how to bring them together in a way that reflected their overarching mission. Their “ah-ha” moment came in the context of a positioning retreat when they recognized clearly that the “why” they exist is to connect, unify and simplify the world of genetic testing and allow fast, clear, and accurate information that empowers smart decisions. From that position of clarity, we helped rename them from NextGxDx to Concert Genetics and reframed their offerings to reflect that mission — unifying and connecting — across multiple verticals. The resulting clarity promises to attract buyers, users, and investors.
Case Study #2: 360 View
Another great example is 360 View, a SaaS platform for banks and credit unions. 360 View began as a CRM for financial institutions — but they soon developed capabilities beyond relationship management, enabling sales pipeline tracking, marketing automation, the ability to identify and leverage profitability, and run goals and incentives programs to maximize the effectiveness of teams. Despite these advances, they were still stuck with the “CRM” label that limited their opportunities and did a lackluster job of communicating the full scope of what they do. We worked with 360 View to reimagine their marketing and rebrand themselves instead as a “Growth Platform for Banks and Credit Unions.” This simple change has helped their team explain what they do in a way that speaks directly to the challenges bank leaders are facing. By honing in on their purpose — to help banks grow — they have positioned themselves for success.
When you have a shared understanding of your purpose, it provides a filter through which all sales and marketing messages are critiqued. Without it, we see brands bob and weave through a maze of “Let’s try this and see if it sticks.” Or worse, companies lead with chest-beating features that don’t really speak to the needs and problems of their target audience. Making a concerted effort to talk through your purpose is time well spent, and the way it manifests itself throughout the organization will bring new levels of meaning and clarity to your brand message, your team, and your clients.