Brand purpose before all else.
Every business decision reveals who you are, so remember why you’re here
People find change difficult. Especially when it’s abrupt. Like downloading an update that changes your entire user experience when you just learned to navigate the last one. There’s an old saying “the only constant is change” but we believe that in business, brand purpose is the compass you need to navigate the current, even as it changes. The most successful and enduring companies – and often the most beloved – convey one simple message through every action they take: “This is why we exist.” Their EQ is that clear. To be effective, a brand’s purpose must inspire belief. It must directly correlate to the work done every day, relatable to all people in all roles, and on its best days, it gives people meaning to their work.
Purpose: Why companies exist
No matter what is happening in the world, in the marketplace, with your competitors, or with your customers, your purpose is market transcendent because purpose always serves a greater good: for people, for humanity, and that includes your own people.
Companies that are purpose-driven are motivated beyond just profit. They’re clear on what they stand for, and the choices they make, whether externally- or internally-facing, are informed by their purpose.
In times when it feels like your GPS is “recalculating route” after every turn, purpose serves as a guiding force because, despite the circumstances, your why doesn’t change. During the pandemic, many companies revisited their purpose to remind them of their why and inform how they’d navigate such new territory.
CVS exists to “help people on a path to better health” and has had that purpose field-tested during the coronavirus pandemic. They worked to stop the spread of the virus by changing their retail and internal operations and working with the CDC to share educational material. Over the last year, they continued adapting to the evolving needs of their customers, employees & their families, and the community at large.
For pharmacy patients, they waived home delivery fees and made the process of arranging that delivery for 90-day prescriptions easier, which helped keep people home when needed and meant less foot traffic in-store. They embarked on a massive hiring drive, aiming to fill 50,000 positions, and prioritized furloughed workers from CVS Health client companies like Hilton and Marriott hotels.
In addition, CVS restructured its PTO policies. They’re granting more flexibility for employees balancing child- and/or adult-dependent-care for full-time employees and extending PTO to part-time workers that test positive.
But this isn’t the first time CVS leadership has made moves to “help people on a path to better health.” In 2014, they stopped selling all tobacco products in every store, sacrificing $2 billion per year. They explicitly stated “The sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose – helping people on their path to better health...Cigarettes and tobacco products have no place in a setting where healthcare is delivered. This is the right thing to do.” On top of that, they launched a national smoking cessation program to help people quit smoking. It’s accessible at any of their pharmacies and minute clinics and online.
Positioning: Your unique value proposition in a particular moment/season in time
Yet, positioning your brand and the expression of its value depends on your marketplace. It’s asking and answering: where do you see whitespace? Where is there an opportunity that didn’t exist before?
Pivots are moments of repositioning while holding to your purpose. What makes it successful: Aligning with any long-term trends created by or intensified by event(s) in the marketplace, or shifts in local, national, or international culture or regulations. The pandemic provides a nice context for playing this out. First, you might be looking at the increase in remote work, the necessity of social distancing, and how that changes consumers’ behavior and supply chains. Then, you would consider which of your capabilities could extend to fit those circumstances. And as a final piece to the puzzle, how might you mold those shifts into a sustainable path to profitability? The key is working in parallel with your brand’s purpose and values.
Responding to the pandemic required such a pivot for many companies. Disrupted automakers became ventilator factories. Retailers started producing PPE. Even our clients faced difficult decisions that required investment in modernizing their business models, operations, and marketing. For example, before the pandemic, Jenny Craig relied on TV advertising, its retail footprint, and a call center for sales and service. At the same time, legacy competitors were successfully evolving their business models and a growing set of digitally-native start-ups marketed their new offerings aggressively. The brand’s future was at risk – a threat heightened because of the pandemic’s impact on in-person retail. Jenny Craig turned to GlueIQ to help pivot its model and digital offerings to modernize its marketing. As a result, they’ve been achieving 80% year-over-year new customer growth, and at one-third less the cost per acquisition.
American Girl, a then-newly acquired Mattel brand, also took a hit when the pandemic shut down in-person retail. Their American Girl stores were the main touchpoint to interact with the brand, its products, and experiences. GlueIQ partnered to quickly help expand their current avenues of imaginative play for new and existing fans all over the world, zeroing in on a smart eCommerce strategy. We worked to evolve their personalized customer experiences and configured their data for smarter insights achieving 70% year-over-year enrollment growth and a 40% increase in online purchases.
This unprecedented time has forced us to lean into a precedented insight: together what matters most, absent of traditional category expectations, in order to progress a helpful way forward. It’s the magic that holds together consumer and growth challenges. Right brain and left brain. Imagination and insight and ingenuity. Creativity and consulting. That’s the Glue ethos and approach, regardless of the circumstances, and proven again in this season of disruption.
Companies -- today and tomorrow -- have to thrive in a fast-evolving world of technology-, consumer- and context-driven growth challenges and perpetually fight for relevance. Purpose and Values are like lane-assist as the market changes. Since the set-in of a pandemic period gave a whole new meaning to the phrase “put your money where your mouth is,” a brand purpose may be the only thing a company can lean on as the world keeps changing.