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Why Your Organization is Getting Sales and Marketing Wrong

By | Building Community, Mack's Musings, Web Marketing | 2 Comments

As trust in companies continues to decline, and the needs of consumers and employees increasingly evolve, many innovative organizations are now turning to purpose as a means to bolster their growth and outmaneuver the competition.

While these innovators aren’t the only ones that understand the power of a shared purpose, the vast majority of companies have yet to effectively integrate it across their organization. According to Harvard Business Review’s The Business Case for Purpose, while 84% of executives believe an organization that has shared purpose will be more successful in transformation efforts, and 81% believe purpose-driven firms deliver higher-quality products and services, only 37% of executives believe that their own business model and operations are aligned with their company’s purpose

Only 37% of executives believe that their own business model and operations are aligned with their company’s purpose. Harvard Business Review

The successful integration and implementation of purpose, both inside and outside your organization, is directly related to your company’s ability to grow and compete in the digital age. And despite the increasing popularity of the business purpose concept, many companies are getting it wrong.

Purpose is not a veneer

Your company’s purpose is not only what you’re here to do (beyond making money), but the reason people — both customers and employees — connect with and believe in your organization. Purpose goes way beyond what your company sells or solves; it’s about who your company is.

73% of people care about the company, not just the product, when making a purchase. BBMG

Purpose does not mean making a charitable contribution from sales and it isn’t necessarily comprised of altruistic, environmental, or social do-goodery, but it does need to be authentic. It’s the foundation for building a company that people want to work for and do business with.

The way purpose shows itself inside your organization is inextricably linked to how you’re perceived on the outside, affecting everything from the happiness, engagement and retention of employees, to word of mouth, loyalty, advocacy, and even customer acquisition and retention.

85% of purpose-led companies showed positive growth of at least 10% annually.  Harvard Business Review

Your organization needs to do a stellar job of communicating your purpose to the outside world. But because consumers now easily see through marketing, no matter how strategic and clear the message is, purpose cannot be faked. Purpose is not a veneer.

72% of global consumers would recommend a company with a purpose. EY

Externally, purpose is most easily communicated through your marketing content, but it’s more deeply felt by the consumer through your approach to sales and customer experience. In other words, regardless of what your company “says,” how your company and its employees interact with the outside world—your customers and your community— can be the dividing line between success and failure for an entire company. Especially when things fall apart.

Take Chipotle for example.

In a nutshell, the company’s purpose is food with integrity. Not just sourcing, preparing, and serving whole food, but disrupting the fast food industry and how it typically operates.

And although their advertising is very clever and human and full of personality, when you dive deeper into their organization, you realize that their purpose isn’t just something they serve up on the surface in their marketing, it’s something that comes from the core of their organization’s soul. It’s in their DNA.

Purpose, not product-focused

Chipotle’s marketing isn’t just about burritos and the stuff they sell. Videos like Scarecrow and Back to the Start took a stand back in 2013 against how the fast food industry typically operates and sources its food. Chipotle holds free festivals each year like Cultivate where people gather in their local communities to celebrate good food, music, and connect with each other over ideas and values.

Chipotle has sponsored a Food for Thought column on the Huffington Post to build awareness and hold the conversation about how food is grown and the effects this system has on our world. They’ve invested in programs and better ways of working that encourage their employees to self-manage, which in turn empowers them to be better leaders.

For Chipotle, these efforts aren’t just marketing campaigns; they’re exhibitions of their purpose. This is how they’ve operated from the start. And even though their struggle right now with food safety issues is real and threatening the durability of the company, they’re working relentlessly to get back to their purpose and live their promise. Not only testing new ways of preparing their food to be safe and full of the integrity they promise, but also pioneering food safety systems for the rest of the fast food industry to learn from.

Chipotle is a shining example of how to communicate your purpose to the outside world through sales and marketing, through every single touchpoint, because they are purpose-driven through and through: leadership, strategy, operations, and employees.

Patagonia is an equally shining example of a company who effectively markets and sells from purpose. They use their business not just to make money but to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. Again, why they truly exist isn’t just apparent in their marketing, it’s not product-focused, and it’s not a PR facade.

Patagonia’s approach to sales and marketing has everything to do with externally communicating their purpose and this has taken many forms. Of late, a new revenue stream where Patagonia will offer store credit for used, recycle-worthy Patagonia clothing and, in turn, refurbish and re-sell the clothing online.

An additional reincarnation of their purpose to wreak less harm on the earth and encourage other corporations to do the same can be seen in Worn Wear —  a movement to encourage their customers to buy less stuff, and instead get more out of what they already have. All of these actions are a clear representation of why Patagonia exists as a company; it’s their true DNA. All of this meaty and meaningful content that also happens to be their marketing.

And although financially, Patagonia is thriving, they’ve had their share of actions that conflict with their purpose. Using materials in volume that have been proven to do more damage once released into public waterways than plastic grocery bags. Yet once they were informed of the problem, they ran tests to verify and researched new yarn and fabric construction that would alleviate the shedding that caused the environmental damage.

Similar to Chipotle, Patagonia shared their learnings with the apparel industry in order to partner and find a solution on an industry-wide scale, not just to save face. Their hope is that other companies will take advantage of the technology and processes they’re pioneering, effectively increasing impact and further utilizing their organization as a means to make progress towards their purpose.

Purpose is certainly not the only factor that contributes to a company’s success or failure. Product, culture, brand, strategy, leadership, and even convergence, competition, market pressure, and economic shifts all play a part in their fate. However, an expertly articulated and executed purpose will give your organization a fighting chance. Not just to more profit and bigger market share, but to better employees and customers who will advocate on your behalf, even when your company blows it.

Customers no longer believe what you say. They will, however, believe what you do as long as it’s also felt through the experiences you provide.

Purpose lies at the heart of your business model. It should drive your growth strategy, focus, culture, and your way of operating. When purpose starts there, your sales and marketing naturally becomes a meaningful conversation that truly engages the people you want in your customer base and together, through your company, you become a vehicle for greater change in our world.

Clarifying and applying purpose to your sales, marketing, and customer experience

One of the biggest fails with purpose inside organizations is implementation. Many companies invest the money to identify or clarify their purpose, but when it comes to living it in the day-to-day, communicating it through their actions, or how they market, sell, and connect with their customers, purpose gets lost along with its benefits. Much like a mission or values statement, it becomes nothing more than the words stenciled on a wall or penned in an employee manual — read once, if you’re lucky, at onboarding and then forgotten.

Your sales, marketing, and customer experience teams play the biggest role in living the purpose of your company because they are integral in communicating what’s on the inside to who’s on the outside. Consider taking these steps in your organization to effectively clarify and implement purpose for increased growth and competitive advantage:

1. Clarify the purpose of your organization
The first step in clarifying your company’s purpose is understanding what purpose isn’t. Your company’s purpose is not your vision, mission, or values. It is not your brand guidelines or PR strategy, a tagline or a trend. It’s not corporate responsibility. And most importantly, it’s not giving a bunch of money to charity (not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just not purpose).

Your purpose is aspirational and belief driven, much broader than your products or services, and lies at the heart of your business model. Ultimately, your purpose improves the lives of your customers and your employees.

Ideally you want to clarify your organization’s purpose by pairing a cultural tension — a problem in the world that your company is looking to address — with who you are at your best self (this is an Ogilvy and Mather’s tool that Arielle Jackson explains well here).

For Dove, their purpose is to help women feel good about their bodies, not just sell soap. This purpose is relevant, meaningful, and it’s the key to connection and what drove a $1.5 billion dollar increase in sales. So it’s really important your teams are clear about what purpose is or isn’t so that they can effectively use it to understand your customers and talk with them through their acquisition and retention strategies.

2. Deconstruct your customer’s journey by actually talking with your customers
Once you have clarity on the purpose of your organization, take a look at how that connects you to your customers. Work for a deeper understanding of your customer’s journey — not solely through analyzing sales funnel drop-off rates, demographic or psychographic audience data, but by participating in actual conversations with customers in real life. Make the effort to understand what they’re thinking and feeling at every stage.

When your sales, marketing, and customer experience teams can bridge the gap between the purpose of the company and how it aligns with your customer’s needs and removes their unique roadblocks you crack the code to earning a coveted connection that leads to word-of-mouth: amplification, advocacy, loyalty, activism.

3. Connect your team’s purpose to your organization’s purpose
As a leader, there are two questions to be answered here: 1) What does the organization as whole exist to achieve? In other words, what is the purpose besides making money? 2) What role does your team play in achieving that purpose?

Your teams need to understand how their daily contributions matter to the overarching purpose of the company. Especially when they’re pushing hard on things that seem meaningless; understanding how purpose relates to strategy and their day-to-day can go a long way for efficiency, output, and morale. In short, meaning matters to your employees.

4. Adjust the communication of your purpose externally
Finally, in order to effectively communicate and connect with your customers, your sales, marketing, and customer experience teams especially need to understand that the conversation is not just about your product, but also about your purpose. They need to be perceptive, strategic, and creative in how, where, and when that conversation takes place.

A well articulated and implemented purpose gives your marketing team a more focused approach to creative ideation, execution, and outreach. Often brand guidelines and historical data isn’t enough fodder for brilliant campaigns and relevant content. If you take Dove for example, there are thousands of ways to talk about the importance of helping women feel better in their own skin, and only a handful of ways to talk about soap.

When your sales and marketing force changes the conversation from product to purpose, you open up the opportunity to connect with exponentially more people — organizations, influencers, media, communities — who either are or know your ideal customer. Not only that, but now your sales force is empowered because they’re no longer just pushing a product or service, they’re selling something much more meaningful.

Business purpose is a parallel path

In order to get your growth strategy right in the digital age, you can’t just tell people your organization operates from the purpose of your business. You have to prove you’re on a parallel path between what’s happening inside your company and what you’re exhibiting on the outside.

Internally, purpose should be part of your business model. It should come in the form of authentic leadership and from employees at all levels; not top-down management mandates. It should be at the center of decision-making for growth strategy and overall company direction. It needs to be the source of innovation because it is the key to differentiation and competitive advantage. Most importantly, when done right, purpose should be the backbone of your culture, effectively driving how your teams self-manage, collaborate, and work together on a day-to-day basis.

The truth is, customers no longer believe your marketing alone. In order to earn and keep your customers, you must know how to effectively exhibit and fight for your purpose through your actions and the experiences you provide. That’s what will create the conditions necessary to achieve sustainable growth.

Learn how we can evolve your organization:


Evolve or Die: How Purpose and Authenticity are the Future of Brands

By | Building Community, Mack's Musings, Social Media, Uncategorized, Web Marketing | No Comments

screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-5-09-08-pmThis year, Mack had the honor of presenting Evolve or Die: How Purpose and Authenticity are the Future of Brands all over the world— from Boston, Massachusetts to Vancouver, Canada; from Dublin, Ireland to Raleigh, North Carolina. What follows are the highlights of her talk that explores how companies need to evolve their marketing and what’s required to build a successful and durable brand in the digital age.

Imagine your company is competing in a fairly saturated and competitive industry like fast food. You’ve been around for a little while but you’re really just getting started. You have something new and different and you’re ready to take the world by storm.

Taking on the world

Now imagine that you’re up against companies like McDonald’s who spent $800 million on their advertising in 2013. Or Panera Bread who spent $55 million on their marketing efforts in that same year.

Imagine this is your competition and these are their marketing budgets. What would your marketing strategy be? How would your company contend?

How would your company compete?

Chipotle did. In 2013 they spent a fraction of what their competitors did — less than $10 million — on their advertising and marketing efforts and they had a much greater impact because they were doing things like this:

  • Creating videos like the Scarecrow that takes a stand and challenges how the fast food industry typically operates and sources its food.
  • Holding free festivals like Cultivate where people celebrate good food and music and connect with each other.
  • Sponsoring a “Food for Thought” column on the Huffington Post that is dedicated to creating awareness about how food is grown and the effects this system has on our world.
  • Investing in better ways of working that gives their employees more authority and empowers them to be better leaders.

All of these things that Chipotle has been doing aren’t just marketing campaigns. This is what they believe in as a company and this is authentically how they operate.

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And that is what has contributed to their durability and growth over the last decade.  From 2006 to 2015, Chipotle has grown revenue from $820 million to more than $4.5 billion.

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So how did Chipotle’s approach bring this much growth? And how can you learn from it to grow your business in the digital age?

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There’s no doubt that if you want to compete in the digital age, you must have a stellar product or service, and you have to provide a cross-channel experience that is unparalleled.

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Ultimately, these things must be baked into your DNA; this is the new status quo.

But competing today—for time, attention, and market share— is not about how much money you spend on your marketing.


If you want to stand out from all the noise, you have to build from purpose and authenticity.


And here’s why:

More than 63% of consumers would rather buy from a company they consider to be authentic over the competition.
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In that same Cohn & Wolfe study, the #1 behavior that people expect of brands is the fact that they communicate openly and honestly about their products and services. They don’t let their customers down, and that they act with integrity at all times. Because people want to relate to you, they want trust you and know you’re going to do what you say.

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Additionally, a BBMG study shows that when people are trying to figure out who to buy from, 73% of people care about the company, not just the product when they’re making purchasing decisions.

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And when people care about your company, they tell their friends. And word of mouth is responsible for more than 50% of all purchasing decisions.

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The fact of the matter is, in this face-paced, digital world, if you want to earn and keep your customers, build a community of advocates who will support you and tell their friends about you, your approach to marketing must shift. It’s not just about how your company is packaged, it’s about who your company is.

If your company wants to experience growth in the digital age, your company, and your marketing, needs 3 very important things: 

  1. You need to clarify your purpose that so that you can effectively position around it and communicate it to your customers.
  2. You need to better understand your people so that you can remove their roadblocks.
  3. You need to use strategy and action to prove you’re worth your customers’ time and attention; showing them you are willing to keep your promise to them.

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Chances are, your company or the company you work for is in business because you want to make some money. You want to grow. So how will building an authentic brand help you do that?

Because authentic brands are built from purpose, and purpose is the key to their growth.

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Our world is changing so quickly, and that has changed how quickly businesses must react and it has also changed consumer behavior.

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Consumers know they have the upper hand. They know they have a choice. So the bar has been set a lot higher for companies. Consumers expect businesses to play a larger role in changing society.

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Not only that, but as far as employees go, people want meaning in their work and they want to work for better companies.

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Purpose is something that can help companies hurdle each of these challenges. It also helps them stay relevant in their customer’s lives.

In a Harvard Business Review study they found that companies with purpose make more money and have more involved employees, all because they’re operating from purpose.

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Purpose drives your products and services, the people you hire, your culture, and your marketing. Most importantly, it gives focus that drives the whole business. Once you have purpose and focus, you can develop a much more effective and powerful marketing strategy that will connect with the right customers. When you’re talking to the right people and removing their roadblocks, those customers want to become part of your community, tell their friends, and drive your growth.

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The first step in building an authentic brand is positioning your company around that purpose. One of the ways we do this is by using an exercise from Ogilvy & Mather’s called the Big Ideal.

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It can take some time to figure out your big ideal (we’ll use Dove as an example from Arielle Jackson’s work on First Round), but essentially it works like this: combine two things: your cultural tension—which is the problem in the world that you’re looking to address:

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with your brand’s best self—what your company actually does when you are at your best:

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Dove’s big ideal is that the world would be a better place if women were allowed to feel good about their bodies. This purpose drives the focus for everything they do. Their job is not just to sell soap; it’s to create products that help women feel good about their bodies.

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This purpose and focus then comes out loud and proud in everything they do in their marketing strategy. Dove has been running the real beauty campaign for over a decade now and it’s still resonating and relevant because it’s coming from their purpose.

And from 2004 to 2014, Dove saw a $1.5 billion dollar jump in sales as a result of focusing on purpose to drive their business.

Because Dove’s purpose is so clear, it’s easy for them to resonate with the people who align with it. This isn’t a marketing ploy. They eat, live, and breathe this throughout their organization. Just like Chipotle does.

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Often times companies will disregard an authentic, purpose-driven approach to building their company and brand because they think it is only applicable to environmentally or socially responsible companies like Patagonia or Tom’s Shoes.

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A purpose-driven approach is not a social cause thing. It’s not a non-profit thing. It’s not a B2B or a B2C thing. It’s a people connecting with people thing. It’s focusing on the right things that will help you build a company that people care about, want to work for, and do business with. That’s what brings growth in the digital age.

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When you’re building an authentic brand, how do people fit into the equation? Every day it seems that there’s some new marketing tactic to try; a new piece of technology that will magically help you earn customers faster. But technology will not earn customers. Having a great product, building a great company, being authentic, and doing the work to find and connect with your people will.

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The biggest thing to remember about growth and building a community is that you’re not looking for everyone. You’re looking for the right people who connect with your purpose. And this takes time because you’re not just looking for numbers. You’re building a community of customers who will become loyal advocates who want to tell their friends.


If you want to build your community and make a connection with your customers, your job is not to focus solely on selling your product. Your job is to figure out how to bridge the gap between the purpose of your company and the people who want to be a part of it. Let’s look at an example.

Traveling Vineyard

We have worked for a company called Traveling Vineyard for the past three years. They’re a direct sales company. They have several thousand people, or Wine Guides as they call them, who are mostly women, who sell wine for them.


Before we met Traveling Vineyard, that’s exactly what they were doing. Selling wine. And they were struggling to connect with their people.

We worked with Traveling Vineyard to discover they actually don’t exist to sell wine. Their purpose is to change lives by providing fulfilling (and flexible) work. This purpose has been driving the growth of their business. One by one, we have been looking for the people and organizations who align with this purpose and who are a match for their community and customer base. Clarifying, operating, and marketing from their purpose has helped them build a deeper connection with their customers and has brought a tremendous amount of growth to their company.

In the very beginning of our work with Traveling Vineyard, we began by identifying an audience that appeared to be 3 different types of moms: a stay-at-home-mom who loves her family but could use a little extra income without a lot of commitment. An empty-nester who’s looking for something new to consume her life now that her kids are gone. And an achiever; someone who is tired of just being a mom and wants something that’s just for her.

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But when we were building their persona, we didn’t just stop here by identifying these stereotypes.

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We wanted to make sure we were talking to the right people, so we took the step of matching these persona to real, actual people.

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Once we mapped the characteristics of the stereotypes to REAL people in their community, we honored them as ambassadors. This allowed us to build better relationships with their existing community and leverage that community to find more people outside of their community who are like them.


One of the first steps we take when we’re building these relationships is to create a Customer Journey Map (adapted from an exercise from Adaptive Path) that helps us understand these women’s desires, roadblocks, and fears that keep them from converting to wine guides.

We then deconstruct this journey by starting with one persona or audience segment. Like Kirby, who represents nearly 60% of their customer base.

Through many surveys, group meetings, and 1:1 interviews, we’ve identified Kirby’s biggest challenges and goals.


Once we knew Kirby’s greatest challenge and most important goals, we could break down what she is thinking, feeling, and doing at each stage in her journey in the lifecycle of becoming a Wine Guide for Traveling Vineyard.

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When we analyze what customers like Kirby are thinking, we look at the common questions that are holding them back. Stuff like: Is the company legit? Will I make money doing this? Do I have to be a wine expert?

Then we move onto how they may be feeling in each stage of their journey. These are the emotions that they are having that could also pose potential roadblocks like if they’re nervous about trusting the company, anxious to tell their friends they may do this, or even just excited to get started.

And then lastly, in the doing stage, we analyze their actions; the actions that the potential wine guides may take before they convert. Things like investigating other companies, talking to their friends and family, and watching videos or reading content on the website.

And even though Kirby won’t be thinking/feeling/and doing these things in a linear fashion, deconstructing her customer journey this way helps us understand what her overall experience must be likecustomer-journey

Now once we understood all of these things about Kirby, we can address all of her thoughts/concerns/fears/challenges through a content strategy that helps reach goals for the company.


Let’s say we’re breaking down the CONSIDER phase in the funnel and identify roadblocks for potential Wine Guides who have been comparing Traveling Vineyard with other direct selling job opportunities.

So for example, let’s say we wanted to address Kirby’s fear of whether Traveling Vineyard is a legitimate company:


We created some content around the concern of pyramid schemes and how Traveling Vineyard isn’t one.


We asked their existing Wine Guides (who Kirby can relate to) in order to help us create content so that they could tell potential Wine Guides about how Traveling Vineyard’s business model actually works and isn’t a scam.


We even asked direct selling experts to provide an unbiased view on direct selling to address this roadblock.


Then we built content to address Kirby’s ‘feeling’ behaviors; being unsure that this job will add stress to her family:


We interviewed Jonelle, an existing Wine Guide who someone like Kirby would resonate with, to talk about what a day in the life is like with Traveling Vineyard and how she balances it all.


In this video, Jonelle shows talks about her schedule and how she fits Traveling Vineyard into her family routine. Again, more real people (and user generated content) from the Traveling Vineyard community addressing these common roadblocks.


Finally, we addressed Kirby’s ‘doing’ behaviors — the actions that someone like Kirby might want to take in order to become a Wine Guide.


Each week, Traveling Vineyard provides a webinar which is an opportunity for potential Wine Guides like Kirby to better understand the business. It’s also a chance to ask questions about what it’s really like to work for Traveling Vineyard and learn that it is in fact possible to be a Wine Guide and keep your family in tact. 


Doing this work to understand Kirby (and the other persona segments) and give her what she needs throughout her customer journey with Traveling Vineyard has helped to increase lead form submissions (one of Traveling Vineyard’s key performance indicators) by more than 298%. This growth has contributed to a more than 40% revenue growth in the company (year-over-year).


Clarifying your purpose, understanding your people, and removing roadblocks brings sustainable growth. This is an iterative cycle of getting to know your people, understanding them, figuring out what they need, and helping them solve their challenges.


This doesn’t require any of your content to “go viral.” This is simply a slow build of trust that has brought tremendous growth to the company.

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Over the last year, Chipotle has been having a rough go of it. And for a brand that is supposed to be synonymous with “FOOD WITH INTEGRITY” being associated with words like Norovirus, E.coli, and Salmonella is pretty bad news. Even worse, when people are talking on social media about puking and pooping and going to the hospital because they’ve eaten your food, it is not so good for business.

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But in true authentic style, Chipotle has spent the last year reacting to this stuff from authenticity and purpose. So they’ve not only been telling their customers that they’ve blown it, but they’re doing what it takes to make it right.

Chipotle has been transparent about how the outbreaks most likely happened. They’ve taken apart their current food safety systems and put them back together. They’ve provided their customers with a plan for action to pioneer and become a leader in food safety. Chipotle wants to make sure that this not only doesn’t happen again in their restaurants, but also inspire other fast food restaurants to operate the same.

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But had Chipotle not built such trust with their customers over the last 10 years, their runway for error would have been quite short and this whole fiasco could have ruined them. But because Chipotle had built such trust, their customers were willing to have faith that they will make it right because that’s who they are as a company.

And that’s what’s kind of remarkable about Chipotle’s community is that their customers were willing to give them a second chance. Even as their stock prices fell and the media chewed them up, their customers were still with them.

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And even though Chipotle is projected to have a 65% earnings loss this year due to the outbreaks, next year in 2017, their earnings are projected to jump 125%. And even over the next many years, Chipotle is still projected to have a higher growth in earnings than McDonald’s and their big ol’ marketing budgets.

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But Chipotle did not build a durable brand from the money they spent on their marketing. They built it through continued, strategic action every day as a company.


For Traveling Vineyard, we used a framework like this to build their durable brand. 


It’s a 90-day framework for driving growth. It includes three, 30-day cycles that will help you focus on building from purpose and do the right things to reach your goals as a company.


In the first phase, you’re working on either identifying or clarifying your company’s purpose. Just like we looked at with Dove and also with Traveling Vineyard. This purpose will provide your business with focus.


Once you’re clear on your purpose, then you can move into the second phase which is continually clarifying and evolving your brand’s foundation. This is not a set it and forget it. This is a constant iteration of testing and learning and refining your brand over time. 

When setting your brand foundation in this second phase, you need to be very clear about the goals you have for your company—both for your business —your financial benchmarks—and for your brand—the company you want to become.

You also want to make sure that your company is relevant in the world, so understanding your cultural tension along with the value you offer that is unique to your company is imperative. Even more imperative is that it is effectively communicated at every touchpoint with your customers.

Then, you need to do the work of deconstructing the customer journey for each of your persona so that you fully understand their behaviors and what they are thinking/feeling/doing at every stage throughout their customer journey.

The final part of Phase 2 of this framework is developing an agile marketing strategy. In this strategy you’re identifying the things that your team will focus on accomplishing over the next 90-days in order to reach your goals. Strategy needs to be complete with action, so we break pieces of the strategy down in Google Docs all the way down to tactics and then we assign accountability to the appropriate people on the team in Basecamp.


Then you’re ready to execute your strategy in Phase 3 of this framework. Maybe your focus is on increasing conversion from paid ads so you’re building custom landing pages. Or, maybe you want to increase brand awareness so you’re working on training the Ambassadors in your community to create user generated content. The most important thing is that everyone on your team has clear direction on what they’re executing and there is no mistake in who is accountable. Hold weekly stand-ups to remove roadblocks and ensure you’re staying focused and building momentum.


And at the end of each 30 days, do a scrub before moving on to the next 30 days in the cycle. There’s a lot of things that are happening in the company that can cause a change in direction, so the scrub helps to be mindful of the things that have moved in the business over the last month that may cause you to re-prioritize your efforts. You then adjust the next 30 days accordingly without wasting any planning and then again, break down and assign accountability for all of the tasks inside of that cycle, and assign them to your team.


And that process repeats itself over each 30-day part of the cycle. And then during the final 30 days of the entire 90-day cycle, since you’ve had nearly a quarter worth of work go by, it’s time to look at the 30,000 foot level at realigning the bigger priorities in your strategy as a whole. Is one channel performing better than another? Is there something that has happened in the business that changes your direction overall? Typically during the last 2 weeks of this final 30-days you’re looking ahead to identify strategic priorities for the next 90-day cycle; locking in and delegating tasks, actions, and accountability to your team for the 30 days in front of you.

And that’s the framework for building a durable, authentic, purpose-driven brand. All you have to do is do the work, be consistent, and you will find momentum.

Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 4.36.04 PM

If you’re considering building an authentic, purpose-drive
brand, remember these things:

Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 4.36.14 PM

Building your company from purpose gives people something to connect to and believe in. Even more, building from purpose gives your business focus. Focus that will bring growth.


If you want to earn the right customers who will support you and stand by you through the good and the bad, you’ve got to bust your ass, hustle and do the work to connect with people. The people who align with your purpose.


And lastly, as a company, you need to have a killer product. You need to provide a stellar experience across all channels. But remember that growth comes from a deeper place than that. It’s not about how your company is packaged, it’s about who your company is. And your job is to continually prove —through your actions — that you’re worth your customers’ investment.

Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 4.36.40 PM

When it comes down to it, building and marketing a company and brand in today’s world requires a different path than traditional marketing, advertising, and quick-fix tactical approaches. It’s not about how much money you spend on your marketing.

Technology is going to continue to change. Google is going to continue to change. We need to use technology effectively and also build brands that transcend this technology.

These are all very simple things. They just take time and iteration and focus. Many companies aren’t committed to doing the diligence of this work. They are doing the same things that every other company is doing. They are creating content for the sake of content. They are adding to the noise. 

If your company is ready to triumph over the next many years, it’s time to evaluate and evolve your approach to marketing.

Nuggets of Knowledge: Connection

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Nuggets of Knowledge

These reads–fresh picked for you from the Genuinely team–focus on connection. Whether it’s finding your tribe, cultivating self-awareness and a positive attitude, using stories to bond, or practicing courageous vulnerability, these posts will provide additional insight on how to find and foster connection with your people.

bookreviewbecomingwise.wideaBecoming Wise

by Krista Tippett

In this 10-min. podcast, Krista Tippett and Seth Godin explore how the internet allows us to find and connect with “our tribes,” and the vast potential the internet offers us as a way to bring together community. “The digital world hands us a power to create our own tribes bound by passion and service, quite apart from bloodline or geography.”

62fuGWQNRxeD2xT3iDGy_140302_katia0682The Remarkable Advantage of Abundant Thinking

by First Round and  Katia Verresen

Does the drudgery of doing business get you down? Here’s a good article – and a practical one, too – about abundant thinking. Though this is a good read for anyone, because we can all use techniques to get out of pessimism and into abundance, these are particularly important lessons for leaders as they are the ones motivating and driving, and relying on, their teams. Through self mastery, neutrality, priming, self compassion, generosity, and gratitude, Verresen says you can move into abundant thinking. And, make a significant impact on your team. “When you build a tribe of people you support, you’re building a tribe that will support you.”

diary-968603_960_720Tough News: We’ve Made 10 Layoffs. How We Got Here, the Financial Details, and How We’re Moving Forward

by Joel Gascoigne

Joel Gascoigne, Co-Founder of Buffer provides a transparent account of the current state of the company, the reason for their recent layoffs, and the changes they’re making to recover. Having the courage to communicate and connect with their community on this level is the ultimate display of vulnerability and authenticity.

U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III trip to CaliforniaThe Pivotal Stories Every Startup Leader Should be Able to Tell

by First Round

A long(er) read about how powerful stories can be for the leader who is looking to foster connection and build more fulfilling relationships with the people on his or her team.


8 Rules for Creating Passionate Work Culture

by Paul Alofs

You’ll see it everywhere: employees want more than a paycheck. They want passion, connection, and a goal. Cultivating that work culture where employees feel comfortable enough to do that is an essential step, and Paul Alofs has eight easy tips to do it.

4 jonathan-mcintosh-flickr-1725x810_26899Extreme Habits of Highly Successful Teams

by Jeff Haden

Just because your team is spread out across the country doesn’t mean you can’t cultivate your own workplace culture and forge essential working connections. Jeff Haden has four tips on how to do just that.

Nuggets of Knowledge: May 2016

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Nuggets of Knowledge - GenuinelyThis month’s NOK list is all about social media, a timely topic given those new Twitter changes that were just announced. (We’d like to deem it prescience on our part, but alas.) These articles all focus on something that remains constant amongst the frequent and inevitable changes to individual social platforms and their functionality: the importance of being human on social media. As automation and bots become more prevalent, establishing genuine human connections remains a smart and ultimately necessary strategy. These articles discuss how to build that strategy into your social efforts.

6 ReasoColourful cloud shaped speech bubblesns to Make Your Business Human on Social Media

by Brett Relander

If you’re wondering why your social media isn’t getting the kind of engagement you’d like, or if you want to know how to build relationships with customers and future customers, Relander offer six great, simple reasons. Ultimately, you’ll build trust and loyalty with your customers if you approach social media from a human perspective.

customer-service-smileThe Trick to Mastering Social Media? Remember You’re a Human

by Jake Cain

A human approach on social media is never more important than when your company is dealing with customer service issues. The author mentions examples of companies who have incorporated an offline effort with their online effort, resulting in a big win in regards to customers trust and loyalty.

robot and manA More Human Than Human Agency

by Scott Schneider

Technology continues to advance and amaze us with the rise of bots. Where we have been working diligently to help companies understand how to be more human, especially on social media, Schneider reminds us of a coming challenge:

How will agencies [and companies] maintain human authenticity in an automated, bot-led world?”

It comes down to the fact that agencies (and companies) must learn to embrace technology and understand how it will continually challenge us to re-shape what we do. But at the end of the day, we have to find a way to be human and connect with people.

thumb_ico-audienceThe Ethical Guide to Growing Your Audience

by Jason Zook

This Crew post is a great reminder that growing your audience (whether it’s on social, through an email newsletter, or on your blog) is one of those things you can’t really find a shortcut for. It also speaks to the importance of being human when you’re trying to build the right audience from scratch. Those quality, passionate people you’re going after want value, consistency, inspiration, and the knowledge that someone cares. So ditch the superficial, short-lived hacks and start making human connections.

Why Content Strategy Isn’t Enough

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Mack recently had the honor of speaking at SearchLove Boston 2016 where she presented on Why Content Strategy Isn’t Enough. What follows is a recap of her talk about how companies need to evolve their approach to marketing in order to survive in our ever-changing world.

Technology has changed our world

There’s no doubt that technological advances have made our world faster, smarter, and more connected. Where it took the phone companies 89 years to connect 150 million people, it took Facebook only 8 years to connect 8 billion.


The problem is, even with all of the remarkable technology that we have, companies are failing to make authentic connections with their customers. Although our world, business, and consumer behavior has evolved, there is an approach to marketing that’s fundamentally broken and it’s not helping companies earn the relationships they need with their customers.



Competing on content and experience alone won’t do it anymore. Great brands and companies already have these things baked into their DNA.


Being stellar at every touchpoint is the new status quo. And yet this, alone, is not enough for companies to weather the relentless evolution of technology, earn customers, and experience growth.

Earning customers and experiencing growth has to come from something bigger and deeper than content marketing or content strategy; it comes from building a company from purpose and earning the trust of your customers through authenticity.

Building an authentic brand is not a social cause thing. It’s not a non-profit thing. It’s not a B2B or a B2C thing. It’s a people connecting with people thing. And it’s about building a company that people care about and want to do business with.

In order for your company to succeed, you have to continually strive to build a better one. And from that, comes your marketing.

Over the next 5 years, authenticity will win

Every day it seems that there’s some new marketing tactic to try: a new piece of technology that will magically help you earn customers faster. But technology will not earn customers. If your company wants to make it through the next 5 years of content saturation, noise, and technological advances, you must build an authentic, human brand.


Here are the facts:

  • More than 63% of consumers would rather buy from a company they consider to be authentic over the competition.
  • That same Cohn & Wolfe study shows that the number one behavior that people expect of brands is open and honest communication about their products and services. The second behavior is that they don’t let their customers down, and the third behavior is that they act with integrity at all times.
  • A BBMG study shows that when people are trying to figure out who to buy from, 73% of people care about the company, not just the product, when they’re making purchasing decisions.
  • When people care about your company, they tell their friends. Word of mouth is responsible for more than 50% of all purchasing decisions.

In today’s face-paced, digital world, it’s not about how your company is packaged. It’s about who your company is.



How to evolve your marketing

How does your company evolve in this digital age so that you can experience sustainable growth?

Start from purpose

Building an authentic brand starts from purpose, and from purpose comes growth.


Purpose is also what solves these common challenges in our world:

  • Businesses are challenged with unrelenting change. And because our world is changing so quickly, that has changed consumer behavior and how quickly businesses must react.
  • Consumers expect businesses to play a larger role in changing society. They know they have the upper hand. They know they have a choice. So the bar has been set a lot higher. Consumers want companies to do more than just make money.
  • Employees want more meaning in their work. And they want to work for better companies.

Purpose helps companies hurdle each of these problems and also helps them stay relevant in their customer’s lives. Even more, “purpose-driven companies make more money, have more engaged employees, and are better at innovation and transformational change.”


Building an authentic brand comes from purpose and that purpose drives everything.


Purpose drives your products and services, the people you hire, your culture, your marketing. Most importantly, it gives focus that drives the whole business.

Once you have purpose and focus, you can develop a much more effective and powerful marketing strategy that will connect with the right customers. When you have a great product or offer great services, and you’ve done your diligence to learn about your customers and how they align with your purpose, those customers want to become part of your community and support your growth.

Positioning around your company’s purpose can be done through an exercise called the Big Ideal from Ogilvy & Mather.


Your Big Ideal is the soul of your company. It’s also your point of view on how the world should be. Identifying your company’s purpose comes from the combination of two things: your cultural tension—which is the problem in the world that you’re looking to address, and your brand’s best self—what your company actually does when you are at your best.


One of our clients, the Traveling Vineyard, addresses the cultural tension that people are looking for more meaning in their work and also in their lives.


At their best self, Traveling Vineyard provides the resources and training necessary to build a successful career in direct sales.


Traveling Vineyard believes that the world would be a better place if people could change their lives with a fulfilling job. This is their Big Ideal.


Traveling Vineyard’s Big Ideal then drives their purpose. Traveling Vineyard exists as a company so that they can change lives by providing fulfilling work.


This purpose then powers Traveling Vineyard’s marketing strategy that is centered around the theme of living a richer, fuller life. Any content that is generated addresses the questions, concerns, thoughts, and feelings that their customers have at every stage in their journey with Traveling Vineyard.


Build an ecosystem

Once your company has clearly identified its purpose, that will drive everything. Essentially, your marketing strategy will be born out of this ecosystem:


  • Identifying and understanding the people who align with your purpose so that you can talk to them
  • Developing the strategy that will help you use the right channels to reach that audience
  • Creating the right content that will connect with that audience, taking care to solve their problems
  • Getting that personal and customized content in front of the right people with customized outreach
  • Assessing data (and intuition) to determine whether what you’re doing throughout this cycle is bringing growth.
  • Finally, showing your purpose through action: having that stellar experience; having that stellar content; following through at every touchpoint and simply being human

Ultimately, your marketing strategy is only powerful when it’s connected to the purpose of your business as a whole. Your marketing efforts then become an iterative cycle of getting to know the right people, understanding them, figuring out what they need, and helping them solve their challenges. This is a slow build of trust. You must work to be authentic and personal in order to earn a community and grow your business.


Why isn’t content strategy enough?

There are two reasons that content strategy isn’t enough to build a sustainable company and brand:


 1) Content strategy alone won’t build a durable brand
If you want to earn the right customers who will support you, tell their friends about you, and stand by you in good and bad, you’ve got to do the work to connect with people. Yes, you need to create 10x content and provide a stellar experience across channels, but growth goes deeper than that. It’s not about how your company is packaged; it’s about who your company is.


2) We need to build brands that transcend technology
Remember that technology can’t build relationships with your customers. That’s what humans are for. Building an authentic brand will help you weather technology, the saturation of mediocre content, competition, and Google. So no matter what the trend is, or how the algorithm is changing, you will have built a brand so durable that people will talk about you, they will hear about you, and they will come looking for you.


It’s time to evolve our approach for durability and growth

Just like building a business, a purpose-driven and authentic approach to marketing is hard. It takes a lot of time and effort and care. Perhaps it’s time to assess whether what you’re doing now in your marketing is really working. Maybe you’re feeling stuck. Maybe you’re not getting results from what you’ve been doing for many years. Maybe your audience growth has plateaued. And maybe all the tactics you try don’t seem to get traction.

It’s time to do things a little differently. It’s time to build from purpose and build authentic, human relationships with customers.

Nuggets of Knowledge: April 2016

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Nuggets of Knowledge - Genuinely

We’ve all been involved in the development and/or execution of a strategy, and we understand how wrenches get thrown that stop the wheels and get us off track.

This month’s NOK picks speak to those challenges: how should a company create a strategy? Why do companies not execute on their strategies? What constitutes a good strategy?

Marketing mix wheel

Creating the Right Marketing Mix

by Rand Fishkin (Moz)

There’s no right way to stack all the different marketing tactics, but you must understand your objectives before building a strategy. Once you know your objectives, you can then determine what part of the funnel will help you reach your goal most effectively.

Rand provides a great example on retargeting and making sure your goals are clear. Are you trying to get people to come back and engage with a new piece of content OR are you trying to convert more people? These two very different objectives need to be defined before activating a specific channel. Lastly, don’t forget to test and analyze. All the channels need to work together and the strategy may need to change over time as different parts of the funnel get optimized.

Brains and Hearts imageMaking Empathy Central to Your Customer Development Strategy

by Brian Barela (Loyal)

We know you already factor data into your strategic decision making, but do you also factor in empathy? In this article, Loyal explains why engaging both the minds and feelings of customers is critical for customer development.

In this actionable and specific article, Loyal provides activities, articles, and frameworks that explain exactly how to get to know (and share!) the feelings of your customers and use that knowledge to create meaningful brand experiences.

Harvard Business Review image

Why Strategy Execution Unravels and What to Do About It

by Donald Sull, Rebecca Homkes, and Charles Sull (HBR)

The authors counter some myths about why strategy isn’t executed based on a survey/study of 8,000 managers in more than 250 companies. Below are the myths they tackle and the issue or solution in parentheses after:

  1. Execution equals alignment.
    (It’s a cross-function, cross-unit thing.)
  2. Execution means sticking to the plan.
    (One must adapt to the problems and opportunities that pop up along the way. P.S. Being agile is easier said than done.)
  3. Communication equals understanding.
    (Strategic objectives are often unrelated to one another and to the overall business strategy. Add in corporate priorities, core competencies, core values and you’ve got a muddy mess.)
  4. Performance culture drives execution.
    (Performance measurements lead to “playing it safe.” Other things must be recognized, too: agility, teamwork, ambition, and experimentation.)
  5. Execution should be driven from the top.
    (What happens when the top brass leave? Distributed leaders from the “middle” should drive execution and be guided by the top.)

Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why it Matters
Good Strategy Bad Strategy book cover

by Richard Rumelt (Amazon)

Our final pick for this month’s NOK list is a book that came highly recommended from Aaron Dignan. Good Strategy Bad Strategy dives into the reasons that strategies either fail or don’t even qualify as a proper strategy in the first place. Through many historical and real-world examples, Rumelt illustrates how good strategy must be void of fluffy jargon, effectively assess the critical challenge at hand, and, most importantly, include a plan for action. The book serves as a stellar guide on what is necessary to be successful with strategy.

Nuggets of Knowledge: March 2016

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Nuggets of Knowledge - Genuinely

This month’s NOK list is a compendium of videos: videos that strike a chord with us emotionally, targeting our personal values and beliefs about core human issues. In order to be relevant to today’s consumers, brands are using emotional storytelling as part of their content strategy, tapping into our emotions to send a message and make a human connection. And, video is a great way to make that human connection.

International Women’s Day on March 8 was a great opportunity for many brands to make that human connection with their audiences by communicating the brand’s values about the lives, achievements, and struggles of women around the world. Rather than focusing on a product, these brands focus on important issues that elicit strong emotions in their audiences.

Brands embrace ‘fempowerment’ campaigns to appeal to women

by T.L. Stanley (Mashable)
In addition to advertising their product, brands today are advertising their values as a way to communicate and connect with their audiences on another level. In this article, Mashable offers a variety of brands – from the more masculine Brawny paper towels to a new Always #LikeaGirl campaign about emojis – that are honing in on women’s empowerment, and the emotions associated with being a girl/woman.

A detergent commercial makes a simple, powerful point about inequality 

by Frida Garza (Quartz)
Soap maker Ariel India (a Procter & Gamble brand), takes on gender inequality with an incredibly powerful video about how it’s not just up to mom to manage the heavy load of home, kids, and career. This purpose-driven campaign is an authentic and emotional way for Ariel to connect with their audience and show them that they’re not afraid to take a stand on something that also matters to their customers.

Why emotional storytelling is the future of branding

by Patrick Hong (Momentology)
There are so many great examples in this article that showcase the power of emotional storytelling. When asked why emotional marketing is important, Andy Maslen says, “Because information leads to analysis, but emotion leads to action.”

This is beating the odds

by Western Union (YouTube)
This short video, created by Western Union for International Women’s Day, tells the story of Siba, who aims to become one of the first female commercial pilots in South Africa. It is the most inspiring thing we’ve seen in a long time.

Mack Web is now Genuinely

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Screen Shot 2016-02-07 at 12.32.34 PM

If I were to ask my dad who the greatest influences in his life have been, I’m confident he would put Oprah Winfrey at the top of his list. It’s not that he’s ever wanted to meet her, or that he would even admit this out loud, but when going through one of the darkest times in his life, she became his therapist. Every day at 3 pm he’d watch her show. Over the course of a year, 60 minutes at a time, he became a better man.

Oprah had kind of a rough go of it when she was a kid. In an interview she was once asked if she could go back, would she change anything about her life? With conviction, she told the journalist that she wouldn’t trade any of it. All of those experiences — the bad and the good — have made her who she is today. It was all part of her journey.

13 years ago when I started this company, I had no vision for what I was building. I had quit a junior high teaching job, completed graduate school, and endured many, many failed attempts at achieving employment. I needed a job, so I started building websites in a home office just down the hall from my bedroom.

Over the years, my vision for this company has materialized from a great deal of contrast. So many questions asked. So many words read. So many conversations had. So many projects released. So many ways of working adapted. So many sharp stones beneath my feet. And so much clarity gained. Read More

The Importance of Building a Human and Authentic Brand – A Podcast

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Mack Web is now Genuinely. Learn more.

– –

Welcome to Stop 7 of MISSION: Authentic

What does it mean, as a company and a brand, to be authentic and human, and why does it matter? Those are the questions guiding the conversation between Mack Web CEO Mack Fogelson and web psychologist Nathalie Nahai.

The simplest reason is that being authentic and human is the best way to earn your customers’ trust. And earning their trust is the best way not only to attract their business but also to ensure that they amplify your brand awareness with their own powerful word-of-mouth recommendation.

In short, being authentic and human is an important way to build a successful business.

Mack and Nat, two experts in the field of humanizing brands and humanizing the web, engage in a 30-minute conversation about why and how a brand should embrace these characteristics and behave in an authentic way. Read More

Nuggets of Knowledge: February 2016

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Mack Web is now Genuinely. Learn more.

– –

Welcome to Stop 5 of MISSION: Authentic

This month, in honor of some pretty cool stuff we’re working on over here, we’re bringing you a different kind of NOKlist. Instead of dropping some knowledge, this month’s Nuggets are holding up a few shining examples of businesses that are doing this marketing thing right.

We spend a lot of time pondering the things that make a company stand out: What draws people in? What makes them want to stay? What inspires customer loyalty, elicits sincere praise, generates the kind of word-of-mouth awareness that no agency or campaign can hope to duplicate? (You may have run across this theme in, oh, just about anything else we’ve ever written.)

We did our research – talked to our peers, consulted our gut instincts, spent some time observing the world – and came to this conclusion: consumers today are drawn to companies that sincerely, honestly, openly care about something more.

We call them authentic companies because when a company sincerely, honestly, openly cares about something, it shows. It glows, it shines, it affects everything they do. Which means that what you see on the outside is who they are all the way to the core. 100% genuine, authentic, Grade-A them-ness.

That’s what this month’s NOKlist is sharing with you. We each spent some time thinking about a company, a brand that we loved. Then we thought about why we loved it. Would you be shocked to discover that the reasons we found all came down to the sincerity, the authenticity of their mission or purpose?

The missions encapsulated below come in different shapes and sizes, from the love of a specific coffee bar to the more general dedication to a certain customer experience; from the very personal belief in the delight of juice to the wide-reaching insistence on transparency.

The shape of the mission hardly matters. It’s the determination to hold true to it that makes each of these companies shine.

See for yourself. Read More