Redefining our purpose

Sponge Purpose Redefined

If you know The Sponge, you know we’re all about purpose. Yes, we’ve redefined ours. We hope it resonates for you as much as it does for us. I’ll also let you in on the massive unexpected change it triggered!

You’ll meet our new purpose statement in a moment. Before I do, it’s vital you get the whole story behind the change, so you can see how fitting it is. The story will illuminate how in this kind of pivotal work, the journey is as important as the destination. Possibly more.

Why would we want to change our purpose?

Over the last 12 months we have overhauled and renamed our Impact Brand Story framework to our ElectroMagnetic Brand method. More on it in a moment.

It now reflects the best of what we’ve been doing with our awesome clients. I am grateful to Covid for the headspace to have focused on this work.

The overhaul and resulting expansion of our product ecosystem has caused reflection on the scope of our impact. It has become even grander!

When speaking about what we do in the past, I’ve often referred to our (old) purpose: we Help Good Businesses Become Better Brands.

Old Sponge Purpose

But I’ve been leaning into the grander impact scope, and have found myself adding a new word into the mix. It has become: we Help ALL Brands Be Good for the World.

Such a tiny word. But what a global difference! It makes the impact much larger. And far more aspirational.

Willing to murder my darlings

When I introduced the ALL addition as a potential change at our weekly meeting, a wise suggestion came from Jess. It was like “if we are considering changing, why don’t you run one of the purpose workshops you do with clients, with us?”

…Brilliant idea! As infatuated as I was with my simple modification, I had to be willing to murder my darlings. I too must be able to trust in the process I ask of our clients. And even better, our team that gets to play this time! 🙂

If you are yet to take part in defining brand purpose, there are some fundamentals to cover. If you’re all over it, you can skip ahead.

A purpose statement has the potential to be a powerful driver of the culture of your business. A mantra of ours is: Your culture is your brand. So it is vital to do it the justice it deserves.

What is purpose?

The word ‘purpose’ requires context to give it power. On its own, purpose means the reason for which something is done, created, or for which something exists. But that could be an irrelevant, uninspiring, or meaningless reason to the audience. It is only when it is a noble, emotive reason that people want to support it for good.

An example of a weak purpose is: To be the #1 outdoor apparel company in the world.

Versus this one: We’re in business to save our home planet.

Weak vs Strong Purpose

Now, they both sell similar products. But which one inspires your imagination and makes you want to support it?

The second one is Patagonia’s. Pretty damn inspirational. And the perfect diving off point for the rest of their brand story!

What is a purpose statement?

Your purpose statement is your succinct reason for existence. Your culture’s North Star. Like the Patagonia example, it’s powerful when it fuses the why behind what you do and the positive impact you’re working to create.

It’s not your vision for the planet or its people, rather it’s a rallying cry. It’s got to be lofty enough that it can encapsulate your Big Hairy Audacious Goals as you fulfil them (10-25 year targets) . And then as you set even bolder new ones.

A good purpose statement is pithy, inspirational and a springboard for your brand story. It must be authentic to your brand. Your team and your customers will sniff out bullshit quick smart.

Defining our new purpose

So we ran our process and played all out. It involved deep diving to get to those pithy elements. And boy was I blown away by the responses from my team!

I felt as though many of the insights they shared could have easily been my own. Twice I teared up during our workshops feeling the depth of alignment. As a purpose driven leader I’m passionate about our culture, but It blew me away how deeply my team cares. It’s such a beautiful thing!

Here are a handful of answers to one of the questions we explored. Can you see what I mean? I’m only 70% on which one is my actual response.

What are you passionate about changing or creating in the world?

Q What are you passionate about changing or creating in the world?

A lasting marketing/business model that everyone can and wants to adopt, so that we all do our part in making the world a better place.

We want to change the way people work, by challenging traditions on how you’re ‘supposed’ to do business.

Creating change that affects the quality of life for all, through better business practices and messaging. To inspire others to join the revolution for positive change.

The new norm of business being regenerative and creating positive impact. That work is a place where everyone gets real fulfilment.

Reinventing business models away from traditional expectations.

Help Good Businesses Become Better Brands because we are all about purpose.

Refining magic

While refining, we reconnected to the impact our ElectroMagnetic Brand method has. This passage in particular.

An ElectroMagnetic Brand is one that effortlessly pulls awesome people to it. New clients and team members alike. And these awesome people stick for good, because they never want to leave!

We’re passionate about this work because everyone deserves complete fulfilment at work. It’s only possible with a culture that empowers and supports every team member to realize their fullest potential.

With the genius of each team member unleashed, productivity soars, and massive boosts in profit and positive impact follow. Now that’s a real sustainable business!

Fulfilled people are happier. Happier people at work, means happier people at home, and happier communities. That’s what we want for everyone we meet, including you and your team, your families, and communities.

It is what we are about. So naturally our purpose needs to connect with that!

I was contemplating between team sessions, and a serendipitous reminder dropped for me. It was while reading BE2.0 by Jim Collins. Sometimes we can be too close to the trees to see the forest…

I took this as we weren’t thinking lofty enough!

And with that realisation, boom, the new statement crystallised for me from all the work we’d done.

I shared it with the team and they love it, so now we’re going public with it.

Our new purpose

Our purpose is: To help good businesses become better brands.

For us this means helping 10,000 brands become ElectroMagnetic by 2027 as our first BHAG. And as a result, rippling to impact 1,000,000 lives.

We will help as many as we can one to one. That could be new purpose driven brands, rebrands and brand refreshes. Each underpinned by our ElectroMagnetic Brand method. But that’s not going to put a dent in the 10,000!

To hit that BHAG we will need to collaborate with many awesome people. They could be facilitators, consultants or producers who are values aligned and share our purpose. We are open to awesomeness wherever it may be!

It also means helping brands via our programs, books, and free online tools. It means our week-long, resort based, immersive brand transformation program (currently in development). And through our software (also in development!).

With our new purpose, there is no limit! It is all aspiration. The world, both planet earth, and every life on it, need all brands to be good.

New Purpose: Help Good Businesses Become Better Brands

So that’s what we are here for:

To help good businesses become better brands.

What do you think, does it fit?

Time for a rebrand?

As I was set to publish this post, George, our Creative Director, threw a massive Sponge spanner in the works!

The Sponge brand has stood the test of time. Originally named and designed over 20 years ago, we were a very different, and very naive crew back then. In the decades since, we’ve certainly come a long way, in many ways. And as George rightly suggested, now would be the ideal time to make our brand identity match our message. A brand refresh to realign to our purpose and culture.

We embarked on that journey! I have now experienced the same feelings that our clients do when exploring name and brand changes. It is easy to become attached to a name and brand and be reluctant, or fearful of letting go for the better. I’ve had to let go (and I’m glad I did now).

The new brand (including name change), is being implemented at the time of posting. You’ll see it in play very soon. I love how fitting it is. Keep an eye on our coms. Exciting times ahead!

Warmly, Luke

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