Purpose Matters: Unleashing the power of brand purpose and leadership in financial services with StrawberryFrog

  • In the competitive world of financial services, a powerful way to stand out is by ascribing a brand's purpose to something employees, customers, and partners can get behind.
  • StrawberryFrog, a creative marketing, innovations, and transformation company, has done this impactful type of work with Truist, First Abu Dhabi Bank, Walmart, and others too.

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Purpose Matters: Unleashing the power of brand purpose and leadership in financial services with StrawberryFrog

In the dynamic landscape of financial marketing and transformation, few figures stand out as prominently to me as Scott Goodson, CEO, and Chip Walker, Head of Strategy, at StrawberryFrog.

I’ve spoken to these guys a few times over the years and they just get it. StrawberryFrog has been called the very best creative marketing, innovations, and transformation company in the world for financial brands, having worked with some of the most iconic financial brands including the largest banks such as Morgan Stanley, Truist, First Abu Dhabi Bank. SunTrust, Bank of America, Bank of Montreal, Harris Bank, Credit Suisse as well as tech brands like AfterPay and Thrive Global. 

We’re here to talk about activating brand purpose – throughout my conversation with Scott and Chip, we’ll uncover the power of purpose in driving organizational change, how leaders can effectively activate purpose within their companies, and the impact of purpose-driven movements on both internal culture and societal change.

From real-world examples to actionable strategies, get ready to gain valuable insights that can help transform your approach to leadership, marketing, and beyond. So grab your headphones and join us on this insightful journey into the heart of purpose-driven branding and leadership. 

Let’s dive in!

Here’s my conversation with StrawberryFrog’s Scott Goodson and Chip Walker.

The big ideas

  1. Purpose-Driven Movements: The core concept discussed throughout the conversation is the idea of purpose-driven movements. These movements serve as powerful tools for organizations to not only differentiate themselves but also to address societal issues, engage employees, and drive meaningful change.
  2. Global Perspective and Experience: Scott and Chip’s extensive international experience underscores the importance of a global perspective in understanding consumer behavior, market dynamics, and cultural nuances. This broad view enables them to develop effective strategies for global brands and navigate challenges across diverse markets.
  3. Leadership’s Role in Purpose Activation: Effective leadership is essential for activating purpose within organizations. Leaders who embrace curiosity, openness, and a willingness to align personal purpose with corporate purpose can inspire employees, drive engagement, and spearhead movements that lead to tangible results.
  4. Closing the Purpose Gap: The purpose gap highlights the importance of ongoing activation and alignment of purpose throughout the organization. Closing this gap requires sustained effort, engagement, and co-authorship at all levels to ensure that purpose remains central to organizational culture and strategy.
  5. Movement Thinking in Marketing Strategy: Movement thinking offers a strategic approach to marketing that goes beyond traditional advertising tactics. By weaving purpose into storytelling and leveraging diverse platforms, brands can create multi-layered narratives that captivate audiences, drive engagement, and foster advocacy.
  6. Impact on Organizational Culture: Purpose-driven movements have a profound impact on organizational culture, fostering a sense of belonging, empowerment, and shared values among employees. When purpose is embedded in the fabric of an organization, it drives alignment, collaboration, and innovation.
  7. Societal Impact and Change: Beyond organizational benefits, purpose-driven movements have the potential to drive significant societal change. By addressing pressing issues such as mental health, financial literacy, and societal inequalities, brands can become catalysts for positive social impact and contribute to a more sustainable and equitable world.

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The following excerpts were edited for clarity.

Aligning action with brand ethos

Scott Goodson: Purpose has been around for a couple of decades now. Actually, probably longer than that. I actually started working on  building purpose-based companies when I used to live in Stockholm back in the 1990s. The problem is that purpose is very theoretical. And it doesn’t really resonate with a lot of people, just because these purpose statements tend to be very similar. They’re pretty generic – it’s corporate speak most of the time, right? 

If you think about it, the six or seven leaders in a corporation sitting in the C-suite, go, Oh, my God, this is so awesome. And then they go to the bank teller who works at the front line with the consumer and you say, take this idea and use it to motivate them to buy more financial products. And the teller who has a high school education has no idea what you’re talking about.

 So what we realized back in the, in the 90s, was if we adopted this idea of a movement, you know, if you think about like a social movement, 

We realized in the 90s that any social movement, like the women’s movement, is a framework within which people are galvanized and mobilized towards some form of change that they want to see happen in the world. And so we said, let’s bring this idea of a movement into these companies as a way of engaging their employees, as well as their customers. And by doing so, we can actually activate purpose in a much better way. 

Fast forward to the 2000s and just before COVID, there were a lot of companies talking about purpose.There’s a lot of research that validates purpose as a galvanizing force for organizational performance for how you engage your people, how you create innovations, how you actually see those innovations happen and transform companies. 

There’s tons of literature out there: Ranjay Gulati from the Harvard Business School wrote a book called Deep Purpose with lots of examples. Jim Stangl wrote a book about purpose and how it helps increase performance in corporations. So all of that is valid. The problem is, how do you activate it? How do you actually turn that into something over a long period?

There are employment ads talking about our company being purpose driven and you can be part of something bigger than yourself – come change the world with us! But if you think about what it’s like to work in a corporation, you probably think a lot about how you get them to feel more motivated, that they’re part of something much bigger than the tedious day to day work. Or, how do you inspire them to feel like they’re really changing the world in a positive way? 

That’s really hard to do – to maintain the connection to a much larger purpose. And one of the reasons that this happens is because the day to day work is hard. And it’s really hard to bring this idea of purpose to life in employees’ minds. This is a fixable problem that we understand here at StrawberryFrog. It’s what happens when you build a movement. 

For example, SunTrust Bank, which was one of the top 12 banks in the United States, has since merged with BB&T to create Truist. When we worked with SunTrust, we created something called the onUp movement, which was short for “onwards and upwards”. It was a national movement for financial confidence and against financial stress. We started with 25,000+ teammates, and helped them learn how to be financially confident, and how they could help their families and friends to be financially confident. This was part of the inspiration. There were 200 ambassadors for the movement, and there was also education on financial literacy. Again, these are a lot of tellers who are high school graduates. And a lot of them can’t put $2,000 together and find that out in a crunch when they’re faced a difficult problem. 

The onUp movement focused on first getting the 25,000 plus people solid, aimedtowards financial confidence. And then from there, we were able over many years to build this movement, not just within the organization, but also externally. It was a movement that affected the top of the organization, the middle, right down to the bottom of that organization. 

The other thing we did, which is really important, is we reframed measurement of the movement. How do you launch a movement? People say, let’s measure how many people joined the movement. Well, that’s one way of doing it. The problem is purpose can feel really abstract and movements can also be abstract. So how do you make it less abstract? How do you make it as concrete as the performance numbers that CEOs are asking organizations to deliver or live by, like sales goals or growth targets – those types of deadlines that are easy to understand – these qualitative metrics tend to drive daily conversations. And that’s not going to change. But what is very important is how you demonstrate that a movement is making an impact and the purpose of making an impact. 

Measuring impact of a movement and creating momentum

Scott Goodson: We did that with SunTrust by creating what we call a participation measurement. We measured the number of steps people took towards financial confidence. This just created a sense of momentum. We think about the power of what momentum represents to people when you feel things are on the move, when things are growing. Over time with the onUp movement, we clocked up over 6 million participants. Every time that we reached a million participants, 2 million participants, 3 million participants, we had a huge celebration with all the teammates. When you frame a movement this way, it enables you to wrap a bow of impact around a qualitative number that becomes the symbol of the momentum. And it’s very emotional, it’s very engaging, especially over time. Iit’s an example of how the onUp movement was powerful and continued to make an impact for the organization over five or six years.

The wrong way to launch a purpose: The need for activation

Scott Goodson: We realized the traditional way of launching a purpose inside an organization didn’t work. For example, the CEO gets up and says, Okay, our company has a purpose. He puts a big poster over his desk, and it says we will do good. And then nothing happens.

The wrong way to do it is the standard way of doing it. And that’s why a lot of leaders say, Well, I tried it. I tried purpose and it didn’t work. The reason it didn’t work was because you never activated it and you didn’t create a movement around it, which gives it much more relevant meaning to the people in your organization. 

For example, the onUp movement was about helping people move from financial stress to financial confidence. But the first step we did was bringing financial literacy to the 25,000 employees. It was very specific to their situations. And once they could internalize that, then they could obviously share that with their customers. Because they lived it, they experienced it. So it wasn’t just a marketing slogan, it was something that actually changed the way they were living their lives. 

But what Chip and I realized when we started StrawberryFrog 25 years ago was the way purpose was being used was wrong. We wanted to find an effective mechanism that could activate the purpose in a way that engaged people from the top to the middle to the bottom, and more importantly, over time, because people get distracted, people have other issues. 

The Civil War: How to win by creating a movement

If you know American history, during the Civil War, in the 1860s, the South left the United States union, and Lincoln was president. Initially when they decided that they were going to force the South back into the Union, it was primarily for economic reasons. The argument was the country was better and stronger as one unit. So we’re going to fight to keep the South in the union and thousands of people died. In the north, they used a lot of the immigrants that came over from Europe. They were immediately sent to join the northern army to force the south in. By 1863, the war was not in the north’s favor. In fact, there was a period of time when Lincoln thought they were going to lose the war. 

And that’s when he came out and freed the slaves and gave them this powerful purpose that was significantly more important than the economic union. And within a very short period of time, the North defeated the South and the war was over. I think there are parallels to an organization, if you only tell the story in the form of economics and financials, purpose has no meaning. You’ve got to make it much more meaningful and give it that higher order, but you have to find a way of activating it. 

That’s what we realized when we started StrawberryFrog. And we’ve done this now for a lot of different companies. One example is Walmart, where they have 2.2 million employees. We were hired by internal HR leadership to help them introduce a whole new benefits program to their associates. We created a movement called the Live Better movement that galvanized their people into wanting to be part of this new benefit program that was being launched. So it’s an example of how you can not only activate purpose, but activate purpose to a very specific business problem internally, which in this case, was a whole new benefits approach, which was beneficial to the employee – to the associate – but also beneficial for the organization.

How to define purpose that aligns with brand and culture

Chip Walker: A lot of times when companies come to us, they already have a purpose. In fact, they already may have more than one purpose that they’ve developed. We’ll have companies come to us and say, we had a consultant in two years ago, and we came up with this thing that didn’t work. And then we had another one a year ago. So getting the purpose defined properly is an issue – we see it over and over again. Sometimes they can be too lofty, but often, our experience is that that’s usually not even the biggest problem. 

The biggest problem tends to be that folks come up with a purpose that sounds good – it often sounds like it’s going to make the world a better place, but it doesn’t always have a connection to their business and the way that they make money.

There’s a US brand from Planters called Nut-Rition. So it’s like nuts, and it’s supposedly better for you. Anyway, they come out with this big purpose campaign and purpose idea that’s all about equality for women –that’s their purpose. When they were asked, well, why would you do that when you sell nuts and snacks? The answer was because unequal pay for women is nuts. Obviously, it just doesn’t make any sense. That’s an extreme example of what I’m talking about. 

One example is very literal, but I think it’s a good one: the purpose that UPS developed. UPS is a company that we’ve worked with and have a lot of connection to, but their purpose is moving the world forward by delivering what matters. Simple, easy to understand. Says what they do, connects to how they make money, and tells you how they’re making the world a better place, all in just a handful of words. 

Now, that’s not easy to do. But I find if you start with a circle of what’s your business, and then what’s your aspiration for how the world can be a better place, if you find an intersection of those two things and can get it down into a few simple words, usually you’re in pretty good shape. As I said, it’s not not a snap to do. But I feel like that’s the underlying model that that company should be aiming for. 

When BB&T and SunTrust merged, they decided as Truist to be a very purpose-driven bank from their inception. The two leaders of the of the banks came together, Kelly King and Bill Rogers, and worked together to come up with this purpose called inspiring and building better lives and communities, which may seem lofty, but I think when you see the way that they’ve run Truist, that’s exactly what they focused on: the role of a bank and making communities better and making everyday people’s lives better. That has been their focus 100%. I think it’s another good example where they’ve gotten their business and making the world better aligned.

Ensuring a movement resonates with both the company and its audience

Scott Goodson: In today’s world, movements are perhaps one of the only ways of genuinely organizing and mobilizing humans on a mass scale. It does it incredibly quickly. Chip and I have crystallized that into a science over 25 years. Together we have worked with probably two dozen of the world’s most iconic financial institutions, from Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse to The First Abu Dhabi Bank – all across the world. We know that movements in society can drive engagement. 

Why is that? 

Because movements are powerful change drivers. They form passionate communities. People in movements rally around a shared purpose – that’s where the purpose comes in. It’s the center point that people are rallying around. They’re dissatisfied about something in the status quo, and they take a clear stand in order to drive change. Now, the example that we use in SunTrust isn’t wholly around equity and inclusion – the type of social issues that you perhaps associate with a movement. There can be something like fighting for financial confidence and against financial stress. It’s not a political issue. It’s a human issue. And it’s an issue that a bank has a role to play in. 

So yes, banks are talking about empowerment. Yes, banks are talking about corporate social responsibility. Yes, banks are talking about financial literacy, but on their own, they’re one-offs and they don’t make any sense. You need a red thread to connect it all together, so that people get it over time. That’s what the movement does. And you crystallize that movement with the motto, like onUp, which shouldn’t be too specific, like we’re going to empower 60,000 women. No, that’s way too specific. It’s got to be something aspirational, that will be achieved through the effort, but isn’t as specific as it will be achieved in two years. It needs to be motivational. 

The building blocks of creating a movement

Scott Goodson: So for us, at StrawberryFrog, we identified a way to decode the essential building blocks of movement. And this is what we call movement thinking. And movement thinking has building blocks, as I mentioned: they identify what is the enemy, and the enemy isn’t your competition. If you’re a financial institution, a big bank on the corner that you compete with isn’t the enemy – it’s, for example, financial stress that plagues all Americans. In the case of SunTrust, we’re for financial confidence. And what is our motto? Because every movement has a motto – our movement is onUp, a phrase that we coined to represent the sense of moving towards the top right. The top right is where everything is successful. So it’s the top right of the paradigm that’s on up. 

And if you think about it, if I use those three building blocks in any social movement that you come across, for example, the environmental movement. Try it – I’m sure in three seconds you can imagine what you’re standing for, what we’re standing against, and what potentially the motto is. That’s what we do with these large corporations, we simplify it. 

There’s a great book out by another Harvard Business School professor, his name is Felix Oberholzer-Gee, who wrote a book called Simpler, Better Strategy. He looked at a number of companies that simplified their strategy to one simple strategy. He’s a big advocate for what we do. If you think about how many different strategies financial institutions are executing at one single time and how many fail… Whereas if you have one holistic movement, within which you can deal with certain specific business problems, you will achieve that.

Our examples that we’ve been talking about are examples of how we’ve done that for these financial institutions, which, by the way, are not a particularly emotive, engaging subject. We all went to university and studied economics. If you had a great professor, and he or she was inspiring you, you stuck with it, and became a great economist. If you had a boring teacher, like I did, you ended up doing transformation work in marketing! Because I found it completely boring, I fell asleep. That’s what happens. How do you keep people awake? That’s what movement lets us do.,

Chip Walker: I’d say on a more sort of tactical basis, the other thing we’re bringing to this purpose conversation through movement is that we’re professional marketers – a lot of times the purpose folks you’re dealing with are not. So as professional marketers, once we develop a movement, like onUp, we know how to use something as practical as channels, whether it be paid media, PR, or events, to get people to discover the movement, engage with it, participate, to join it, and then to advocate other people to do the same thing, and to measure all that stuff. 

Some people ask if movements actually use marketing, especially paid marketing, they would if they had the budget, so So, so we do that, and we do it not only externally, but also internally, for example, we’re working with a very large retailer, helping to engage their employees right now, through purposeful thinking. And we needed to be able to connect the employees to each other so that they could engage and with leaders, so we basically developed, basically an Instagram channel for them just for them and their employees to basically have a forum in which to talk to each other and to engage over what are we trying to do with this movement and with this purpose, so everything Scott said, and I would just add that on a practical level, that’s just some examples of how we activate purpose to remove it.

Movements across borders

Scott Goodson: I think it’s very hard to scale a movement internationally unless you’ve actually lived it. Chip and I, we’ve been around the block a few times. StrawberryFrog is 24-25 years old. And before StrawberryFrog, both Chip and I also worked and lived internationally – Sweden, the Netherlands, Dubai, Singapore, Mumbai, San Paolo, New York, and Toronto. We’ve worked with a lot of global companies, and we understand and have worked with companies across the globe. The real true measure of international isn’t having it as a title. It’s having literally walked the streets and met with consumers and worked on difficult problems in China and Japan and India, and you name it, which we’ve done. So that has helped us understand the opportunities that exist for global brands, as well as some of the potholes to avoid.

As an example, we worked with the founders of Afterpay just before they sold to Square for $29 billion, so it was definitely a good investment in StrawberryFrog. We worked with the two founders on this exact thing that we’re talking about: developing a purpose and activating it. These two founders are Australian, so they’re based in Australia. I don’t know if they’re still there. Afterpay was a global concept, and it was competing with other global brands like Klarna, and Klarna’s purpose was sustainability. They have put a stake in the ground, and they’re all about sustainability. 

When we first started talking with those guys, they said we should be in the sustainability space. And we said, Well, why? Your biggest competitors are in that space, and we think you have a bigger opportunity. What we identified was the rise of mental health issues, particularly around the audience they’re trying to target which are teenagers and young 20 year olds.

The rise of mental health issues is a huge issue. We directly connected that to what Afterpay is solving, which is they’re fighting against pernicious debt, which is caused by traditional credit cards. We said you actually take a big step towards reducing the triggers of mental health by removing pernicious debt, therefore, you have a role to play on a global basis to reduce mental health stress – that is a real genuine purpose that you can own and is directly related. 

Chip Walker: To build on that, each of our movements is usually sparked by what we call an idea on the rise in culture. And with something like Afterpay, what Scott’s talking about is that it was pretty easy to make a global idea just because we’re dealing with a global cohort – these young twenty-somethings who have a similar issue in and around this growing acceptance that it’s okay to talk about mental health. Also the idea that a lot of the issues driving mental health problems are caused by money. This is kind of a global concept for this group. It’s not just for one country, and I think that helps us make a movement and a purpose.

Engaging and motivating employees around the brand’s purpose

Scott Goodson: It’s never easy. Chip and I worked with leaders of some of the largest corporations on the planet. And it’s hard when you’re sitting in a room with a leader to say, hey, the way you’re doing it isn’t the right way. This is a better way. But when we do have those kind of open conversations, I would say the CEOs that are the most successful at it are very curious. And they’re very open minded. And they’re willing to try this. 

It’s literally about sitting down in a room and plotting out how we will use the leadership to spearhead this movement, because the role of the leader is critical. For example, in today’s world, what the leader writes on LinkedIn has a huge bearing – people read the CEOs LinkedIn page. And if you think about the role of leadership today versus even five years ago, it’s just huge. 

The other thing is when we sit down with these leaders, we help them tell a couple of things. We help them think about their own purpose, and how it connects to the larger purpose of the company. Because connecting the personal purpose to the corporate purpose helps them get in the zone, helps them understand what we’re trying to do with the corporation. And a lot of these leaders have their own purpose. The second thing that we do is we create a story, and we have a language around this story. A lot of CEOs are obviously incredibly bright. Most of their conversations around finance, particularly at financial institutions, they’re about finance. They’re about effectiveness and efficiencies and things like that. When they’re interviewed on Squawk Box or on CNBC, they’re talking about share price. They’re talking about efficiency, and they’re talking about financial numbers. 

We help them tell a different story. We help them talk about financial stress and about what it’s like for someone who is working incredibly hard to be faced with an issue in their life where they need to come up with $2,000. What happens in that situation? How do we help them get to a more stable, more solid place? That language helps them when they’re either speaking to customers, or they’re speaking to their employees.

In fact, there was a CEO – I won’t mention any names – who told me that after we worked with them on on this movement, they had a meeting with one of the largest trucking companies in the United States, and they sat down, having previously had conversations about how much capital do you need and so forth. And the CEO met with the other CEO and said, How are things going? And the CEO said, Well, you know, I can’t sleep at night. Why not? Well, I have thousands of truck drivers. This was during the inflationary period. I’m worried that they’re not going to be able to survive. And if they don’t, if they can’t put two nickels together, my business is in trouble. 

And the other CEO said, you know, I really understand that. We’ve developed this program that is all around financial literacy for people like these truck drivers, and it works with them over time to help them build that stability they need. The conversation completely changed from what he had done previously, which was talking about the financial products that they sell, and the financial needs of the customer to this purpose that was activated through this onUp movement. Those are examples of how we can work with these professionals to become a leader that actually drives a kind of change that is beneficial to the company.

Chip Walker: I feel like purpose has got to come from the top. It’s got to be endorsed by the top. When we have companies come to us, and it’s middle or lower level employees who say, Oh, we want purpose and a movement, but you have to help us talk our leader into it, that’s probably not a good sign. It’s got to emanate from the top. But a lot of times what can happen is that top leaders get into this kind of purpose bubble, I’ll call it, that they’re into this lofty purpose, and they talk about it all the time. But it never ends up getting translated down to the layers of the organization. Watch out for that. 

I think that the best research that has been done indicates that when purpose works and is financially beneficial to a corporation – this was from two professors from Harvard Business School who did this big study. What they found is that there’s buy in at the top, and there’s buy in at the bottom, but the magic ingredient is actually the middle layer, because they’re connecting top and bottom. So you kind of have buy in at all those three levels.

The purpose gap

The purpose gap is the difference between top down leadership – do this because I tell you to do it, that classic mandate – and let’s do this, because it matters to us. That is the movement, right? If you think about what a movement is, it’s an opportunity for people to have a role in both the execution of the strategy, but also in developing the strategy. If you think about the employees today, knowledge workers, they don’t want simply to be executing, they want to feel like they’re part of developing the strategy. You want to give them both constraints as leaders, but also, you want to give them choices. And a movement allows for a level of co-authorship and participation, which increases engagement. 

What the purpose gap does is it basically measures the purpose and how the movement is executed over time and down through the organization. For example, between the day that leadership announced to the whole company, this is our purpose in a small group of leaders, and how that purpose in that movement affects the organization. From the top down to the middle, down to the bottom of the organization, and over time, over the course of, let’s say, 18 months, or three years. The test of a purpose activation, obviously, is not whether it’s met in a rapturous way by the organization when it’s unveiled, but whether it’s still being used three years later by the whole organization – the distance between the launch and those three years is the gap, the purpose gap.

 At StrawberryFrog, in developing our movement inside offer, we’ve created a series of products and services that help organizations deliver a vibrant and engaging purpose that is activated by movement over those three years, like the SunTrust example of onUp. I think it was six years, the purpose still kept growing and still had an impact in focusing the organization and creating the momentum that kept people engaged.

Shifting from traditional advertising to purpose-driven engagement

Chip Walker: I think the great thing about both purpose and movement is that they operate a level up from tactics. They are North star and guiding principles for everything you do. But the thing I really like about working with movement thinking is that it tends towards the grassroots. We’re trying to galvanize individuals to not only join the movement, but to advocate for the movement. What that means is that, yeah, we can use traditional channels like connected TV and the ones that we all grew up with.

But I think the advent of social has really been like pouring gasoline on the fire of a lot of movements. For a lot of the work that we’ve done for SunTrust and other clients that we’ve talked about today, social is a major driver. The entire movement we’re doing internally right now for the big retailer I talked about is taking place on Instagram, and it’s great. It works incredibly, all of their employees are already on it and check it every day. At any rate, I just feel like some of the newer channels have actually dovetailed nicely with our focus on purpose and movement, and I think are making them more powerful.

The shift to social targeting for activating movements

Scott Goodson: Walmart had a very low engagement rate between the company and the employee. It’s really hard, if you think about all the problems financial institutions are faced with, like getting people back to the office – all these challenges that didn’t exist 20 years ago for CEOs and financial institutions. Now, they have a whole host of personnel and employee related challenges, as well as external marketing challenges.

With the example of Walmart, we actually bought social media in order to target employees at Walmart. Walmart wasn’t able to give us their employee data or their contact information – they couldn’t give cell phone numbers or anything like that. So what we did was we ring fenced their stores. We were able to measure which phones were coming in and out of the Walmart store. Either they were employees, or they were very passionate consumers that happen every single day. And then we bought social media, and targeted them through social media and delivered millions of hours of video content directed towards them. So we wrapped them around this whole movement in order to engage them. That’s just one example. 

If you think about consumers and the role of social media and the thousands of platforms that exist today, I mentioned LinkedIn as a platform for the CEO, social media, all of these things are disparate. How do you build that? How do you become a conductor that’s leading a movement, this beautiful sound that is engaging and motivating both your customers and your employees over many years? It’s challenging. And what the movement does is it allows you to do that. 

So, for example, yes, you should do advertising. But advertising should be in the service of the movement. Social media, again, needs to be in the service of the movement, everything ties back to this higher movement. That is this activation of the purpose. And it just adds a layer of interest and engagement. It’s like babushka dolls. A great storyteller has layers of storytelling. And what the movement allows you to do is have layers of storytelling. 

Steve Jobs used to say, when I don’t sell the hardware, I sell the software. And the software was the emotional storytelling. The hardware was, here’s our new XYZ new product. He knew this. He had multiple layers. Think different was a movement to inspire people not to be ducks or sheep, but to follow a path of independence and stand against the status quo, and be creative about it. That built one of the most prolific companies on the planet. So if we employ that in the finance category, we can engage people in powerful ways.

Instances where brand’s purpose directly impacts culture or drives societal changs

Scott Goodson: I think every movement that we develop is in the service of a business problem. The problem has needs to be solved. We look at the movement work as a way, as a means of doing that. So in the case of SunTrust, it was to increase new accounts. In the case of the National Bank of Abu Dhabi, they had decided they were going to merge with First Gulf Bank, and they hired StrawberryFrog to lead the merger for them. 

The first thing we said was, Abu Dhabi and the UAE is in a state of flux. This is back in 2017-2018, when the economies of that region were changing, and the national leadership were trying to build a more dynamic economy. So a starting point was looking at the culture, looking at what was actually happening in society, where the leadership wanted to engage consumers, not solely to become customers of this new financial institution, but rather, how do we strengthen our citizens in this time of volatility and change? 

The second thing was how we merge these two companies. How do we merge them in a way that feels like it’s additive and it’s not just a merger, but it’s actually something beneficial? Not just to the shareholders of this bank, but to the citizens of Abu Dhabi? And how do we make it meaningful to the employees so that they feel not threatened by this merger, but rather the opposite? 

We came up with this idea of growing stronger. Carol Dweck was this business consultant-psychologist who talked about the growth mindset. So we took a page out of that and said, This is really highly motivating. Let’s bring the growth mindset into this merger. And we came up with this motto called grow stronger, and the grow stronger movement started, first of all, as a way of describing why these two companies were coming together. They were coming together to grow stronger. Why was that important? Because Abu Dhabi needs a strong financial institution. 

Then we said, grow stronger was also about the citizens of Abu Dhabi, that we were going to usher in this movement that helped them as citizens grow stronger financially. There’s an element of financial literacy that didn’t exist with the citizens prior to that. They used to get a stipend, and they didn’t get a stipend, they introduced VAT in the country. So the financial situation started to change there. We were trying to educate citizens. 

And then thirdly, we wanted the employees to feel that working in this new institution, they themselves could grow stronger as employees, that they could grow as people in an organization. That was basically the framework for the grow stronger movement. 

I’ll just tell you a funny story. When we did work, part of our assignment was to come up with a new name for the bank. We came up with 20 or 30 different names. And the first idea I had in my head was, I had a meeting with the top leadership of the financial institution and the government. And in that meeting, they said, one of the things that we don’t like is the fact that whenever we’re referred to in London at the London Stock Exchange, they always joke and they say, we’re N-BAD. National Bank of Abu Dhabi was N-BAD. We don’t like to be called that. 

So I thought about it. I said, Well, what about a name like FAB – go from BAD to FAB. And they laughed, they said, We can never call ourselves that. And then we did the whole process of coming up with a whole bunch of names. And then in the end, they said, they liked FAB. So we went from BAD to FAB.

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