One evening in early February, I found myself seated in an airport, awaiting a flight home from a series of meetings that today I would be attending virtually from my home office in New York. Paging through an issue of the Harvard Business Review, I came across a headline that stopped me in my tracks:  Why Are We Here?

I had just spent the afternoon examining our organization’s purpose as we approached our own brand refresh. As the article suggests, a business with a clearly defined purpose can sharpen its strategic focus while aligning employees behind its vision of success. Yet few can easily articulate why they’re here – and purpose has never been more important than now: when a crisis of confidence in the market forces every business to return to its roots.

Purpose in Perspective

We aren’t the only company reexamining our purpose. From the Business Roundtable’s watershed declaration recasting the purpose of a corporation to the countless startups professing themselves as “mission-driven” enterprises, purpose has become the latest buzzword. Increasingly, “why we are here” carries a lot of weight.  

The most recent communications bellwether survey conducted by PRWeek and Boston University revealed that purpose has assumed a greater priority among PR practitioners as both corporate communicators and agency executives admit to introducing more purpose messaging and storytelling into their strategy. And they’re onto something. A new generation of employees is clamoring for a deeper connection to their work and a sense of making a difference. A modernizing workplace is awakening to the critical importance of diversity and striving to create a more inclusive environment. A fragmenting industry with increasing standards of excellence is seeking ways to differentiate.

When organizations double down on their purpose, they not only offer employees a commonly held mission behind which to unite their combined forces of cross-disciplinary skills and cross-cultural experiences. They also enhance their value proposition as a focused solution to a well-articulated need – elevating them from substitutable to irreplaceable.

Why G&S Is Here

Decade by decade, I’ve watched our agency evolve, weathering crises like the Great Recession in 2008 to transformations like our largest acquisition ever in 2018. With this came a merging of two cultures, an explosion of fresh perspectives, and an expansion in marketing and service offerings.

As change does, this also spurred a series of other new developments – some organizational, including my own position, Chief Growth Officer, created to launch and maintain steady, focused growth for our business. It motivated us to re-examine how we think, talk and represent ourselves, applying our own business communications strategy in the same way we would for our clients. After all – why do we do what we do for them? How could we use what we do best to improve upon ourselves?

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Through a methodical process and countless conversations across our three offices, we approached our branding and our purpose in the same way we do for our clients, culminating in a statement that resonated with why we feel we are here: To help innovative companies change the world.

For so many reasons, this sums up what we do as an agency, and why we do it.  A simple audit of our clients demonstrates that we truly are representing organizations making massive transformations in their respective industries. We really are a critical piece of a process that, at scale, changes the world.

The Search for Meaning

It’s likely that you, like we were a few short months ago, are rethinking your purpose. Perhaps you’ve just started riffing about this among senior leadership. Or you may be further along, having carved out your purpose and are now putting it into action.

At G&S, we partner with our clients on all stages of the process – from mapping your branding and purpose back to your business strategy, to unveiling your final brand expression, whether verbal, visual or both.

Wherever you are on your journey to purpose, we would love to help you get there. Drop us a line, and I’ll personally jump on the phone with you to help build a framework that works for your organization – and ultimately inspires people to take action, resulting in business growth.

As I pondered our purpose in that airport, I realized how critical it was to my role. After all, purpose and growth are inseparable. You can’t achieve one without the other; each fuels the other to help a company fulfill its strategic goals.

I boarded the plane, amped up on Diet Coke, adrenaline and measured confidence that we had made the right decision to delve into our purpose before adjusting our brand. Now, we know why we’re here – and, more importantly, where we’re going.

 

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