We First Webinar: How to Turn Your Brand Into a High-Growth Movement

We First recently hosted a webinar where Founder & CEO Simon Mainwaring explored the importance of companies maximizing profit and positive impact by turning their brands into high-growth movements. The following is excerpts from the webinar which can be watched in full here. Plus, sign-up for our newsletter to be informed of future webinars!

Simon Mainwaring: The topic today is how to turn your brand into a high-growth movement. Why is that important? There’s a big shift underway from growing your business by building brand awareness to really seeing your brand as a movement and allowing that movement to scale your business. That’s a reaction to the reality that we are living in this era of movements whether it’s #MeToo, #BlackLivesMatter or March for Our Lives.

All these movements in the cultural landscape are now being effectively mapped across to the business landscape. That has huge implications for brands. It has given brands an opportunity to stand up for what their values are. At the same time, it has put those brands at risk that aren’t clear about what they stand for. As such, brands are being increasingly defined by their values and their products are being positioned as social proof of their values.

As a result, you’re seeing many leading brands getting ahead of this opportunity and articulating their movement and what they stand for. They’ve distilled their messaging down to a singular conversation they’re leading and their movement is being driven by that conversation. For example, Patagonia is focused on ‘Responsible Economy.’ Tesla,’Sustainable Transportation.’ Unilever, ‘Sustainable Living.’ Airbnb, ‘Universal Belonging.” And, in the fashion category, Everlane is leading a movement focused on ‘Radical Transparency.’

This is backed up by data: Edelman’s Earned Brand study demonstrates that among belief-driven buyers, and that’s loosely qualified as younger, affluent people that are about 30 percent of the global population, 50% of belief-driven buyers would buy or boycott a brand based on a position on a social or political issue. Not a business issue. Not a brand issue. And not a product or supply chain issue, but a social or political issue. Also, 65% of belief-driven buyers will not buy a brand if they stayed silent. And 67% percent of belief-driven buyers have bought a brand for the first time based on their position on a controversial issue.

If you sit down at any one of your planning, strategy, or marketing meetings, whether you’re a solopreneur or whether you got 10,000 employees all around the world, and you say, “We’re in the business of movement making,” as opposed to “How do we build our brand,” you can readily imagine the shift in ideas you come up with. So with the ambition of becoming a movement maker in mind, what are three fundamental steps to getting there:

  1. Defining Your Brand Purpose

Every brand has to get very clear about what its purpose is. That’s because if you want your brand to become a movement, your purpose is like a slingshot. That purpose defines the movement, and that movement defines the actions you take -- whether it’s activism, advocacy, communications or advertising. And those actions build your business.

To be clear, your purpose is your why. Your reason for being. Why you exist. It should be a motivation for people to roll up their sleeves and do something, to think in a different way, and to make that emotional connection. In that way, it’ll be motivating to all stakeholders. So, Airbnb is not in the accommodation business. They’re in the “belonging” business. Disney’s in the “imagination” business and Southwest is in the “freedom” business, when you distill their purpose statements to their essence.

Finally, your purpose should affect all aspects of your business, from your product development, to your supply chain, to your culture, to your research and development, and, yes, community engagement and all your CSR initiatives. That when you unlock the full power of purpose to drive a movement that will build your business.

  1. Co-create a Brand Community

The second step in helping your company become a high-growth movement is to co-create a brand community. Many smaller brands try to do all their marketing themselves, when it’s far more effective to leverage the power of purpose to engage their whole community to build their business. Brands need to ask themselves: how can we mobilize everyone in your community to be an extension of your marketing department? Everyone from your employees, to leadership, to partners, to customers, to consumers, to the media? How can everyone create that brand movement that builds the business and its impact? And to achieve that, there are three key strategies: Co-authorship, Co-creation and Collaboration. By doing so, the very nature of your outreach is going to inspire people to work with you in a way that is going to get them engaged and inspire them to share what you’re doing. And if you allow people to play a co-creative role in their content, they’re much more likely to share it with others. So, don’t think about doing it on your own. Think about how you can do it with a competitor. Think about how you can do it with a nonprofit partner. Think about how the public and private sector can work together. If this becomes your mindset, it will absolutely transform the type of ideas you come up with, the type of engagement you seek, the content you put out there, and the way people respond to that content. Take this collaborative, co-creative mindset, and suddenly, everyone will be working to build your business with you.

  1. Define The Movement You’ll Lead

The third step is to ask yourself, “Well, what movement will you lead?” To start, look at your category and what the key issues are. Look at your brand. What issues are affected in the manufacturing and distribution of your products? Ask yourself, as founders, as solopreneurs, what do you care about? And triangulate all these different issues to articulate for yourself what movement can be unique to your brand, that you’re fully qualified to lead and speak to.

Once you do that, you can go to market with confidence that you will create fresh content. You will create content that people want to share. You’ll be activating values in a way that people will want to align around those values, and that will invest your products with those values so they become social proof of what you care about. People will want to buy your products and to see you succeed.

Today, many brands out there are demonstrating what they stand for, and if you don’t compete in those terms, you’re inviting irrelevance. So, leverage your purpose to drive profit in a virtuous cycle of doing good so that you can do well, and then inspire brand champions to co-create your brand community.  

I share all this in the context of a new platform we just launched, We First Works. If you are a solopreneur, a startup, an entrepreneur, a small or high-growth company and want to take your company to the next level, visit WeFirstWorks.com. The two courses will empower you to define your personal and company purpose, and that is what the leading brands are doing today to scale their growth and impact. So visit WeFirstWorks.com now and here’s to your success.