Monday, February 2, 2015

The role of purpose in your personal and business brand development

On Saturday, 31st January 2015, I made my way to my first Girl Geek Breakfast. I have attended many Girl Geek Dinners (GGD) in Johannesburg and always enjoyed them so this was my first Cape Town experience - I was pretty excited. Sarah Rice was the guest speaker and her topic was:

The role of purpose in your personal career development

She shared her personal journey, which I really enjoyed. Turning 40 and getting divorced last year, had a profound effect on her (as to be expected). She spent a lot of time reflecting on herself and her business, Batstone and during that process she discovered...

Brand purpose drives sales far more than product marketing. Businesses need to ask themselves, "Why do we exist in the world."

She gave an example: An ISP selling "fast internet connectivity" doesn't stand out any more than their competitors in the cutthroat industry of giant Telecommunication companies. She spent hours, days and weeks work shopping with top executives until they finally uncovered, their Brand Purpose - "connectivity is a human right." Once they embraced that as their core value within the organisation, turned their marketing efforts to tell the world about this core belief, their sales increased as a result.

The same thing happened with Apple. In 1997, Apple wasn't doing so well so they hired Steve Jobs to turn things around. H largely focused on convincing Apple's employees to remember their Brand Purpose and forgot about the technical specs of products. Apple needed to shift focus from laptops, phones and other devices and move towards their a focus on their core beliefs.  At Apple, they believe that "people with passion can change the world." Selling that message to their consumers, boosted sales and Apple forged ahead, leaps and bounds above their competitors without a single product campaign. Instead they focused on heroes, showing what ordinary people are capable of.  As a result, Apple launched their "Think Different" campaign which eventually saved the company from bankruptcy, built the greatest turnover in business history and transformed Apple into one of the most valuable corporations in the world.

Sarah also shared that while all these notions are great in theory, its important to follow up your purpose with delivery. I guess the same applies in businesses as it does in our personal lives. We need to focus on WHY we do what we do, and not so much WHAT we do. Unlocking the WHY is far more important than the WHAT and that's a major behavioural change that's required for Brands to soar beyond their competitors.

She left with words that really stuck with me. "Have the right conversations, with the right people at the right time and you're bound to change the world." 

About Girl Geek Dinners:
Girl Geek Dinners were founded on the 16th August 2005 as a result of one girl geek who got frustrated about being one of the only females attending technical events and being asked to justify why she was there by her male counterparts. She decided that she wanted this to change and to be treated just the same as any other geek out there, gender and age aside.  After all to be geeky is to be intelligent, have passion for a subject and to know that subject in depth. It’s not at all about being better than others, or about gender, race, religion or anything else. Those things just detract from the real fun stuff, the technology, the innovation and the spread of new ideas.

About Sarah Rice
Sarah is a technology communications specialist with over a decade's worth of experience. She ran the IT focused PR agency, Sentient Communications, for almost nine years before shutting it down at the end of 2011. Sarah then worked with 22seven in an eight-month contract to launch the financial services product to the market, after which she joined South African social network, Mxit, as the VP: Communications. After two years as an employee Sarah realised that she was much happier being her own boss so in late 2013 she joined Brendan at Batstone. In other news she has two kids, an honours degree in Educational Drama, an unhealthy obsession with audible books and finished her studies without the use of 'The Internet’