Don't get hung up on defining brand purpose - just deliver it
Legoland's Ash Tailor and General Mills' Arjoon Bose spoke to Creative Salon about how their definition of purpose and cultural currency defines their work
10 November 2021
Brand marketers shouldn’t get hung up on definitions of the word “purpose” but should get hung up on how they execute it, argued Ash Tailor, the vice president of global brand and marketing for Legoland.
Speaking at Adobe’s Experience Makers EMEA 2021 virtual event, which aimed to encourage better customer experiences for all, Tailor said purpose was simply about “being good and doing good”. Instead, there had been a preoccupation with creating purpose statements rather than actually translating it, he said.
Citing Procter & Gamble’s mantra, that the ‘only strategy a consumer sees is execution’, Tailor said that his focus was on providing "joy" at every touchpoint at Legoland’s centres in the UK and around the world.
In terms of culture, he said that he looks at it from an internal perspective, which then translates into an external view. He cited the example of using children (who are prime users of Legoland resorts) in the interview process for recruiting new talent, as they would provide provocative and interesting questions. “From a cultural perspective, really understanding and translating that internally within the organisation is I think a bigger challenge as well as actually how then the brand translates in the external world. I think it's really important to think about culture from an internal perspective as well as from an external perspective,” he concluded.
Arjoon Bose, the international marketing and business leader at General Mills, agreed that the fundamental role of brand marketing hasn’t changed despite the current vogue of talking about purpose. “It's essentially in a bit of an evolutionary adaptation, if you will. So yes, we keep building brands. I'll say as a company and as organisations, we keep doing good. Importantly, we don't look to profiteer from the situation. And we're always listening to our consumers.”
He said that culture is where you find that context and opportunities - engagement and business growth - while doing good. ”The lack of purpose is what gives you the empty shell. But having purpose gives you the clarity to respond to situations,” he said. Tailor agreed – “culture eats strategy for breakfast, lunch and dinner,” he argued, “as that’s what people bind to”.
Bose used the General Mills Mexican food brand Old El Paso as an example of great cultural marketing. “Mexican [food] can be seen as extremely nice and ultra-multicultural. Today we're at a very privileged position where we define the role of what Mexican is - it's about sharing, it's about connection, it's about noise.
“Old El Paso grew from a philosophy of philanthropy. So, it was always about giving food and providing food security to those who didn't have a roof on their head. So, everything we do is about tying back to one of our corporate philosophies, which is being a force for good and fighting food insecurity. So, when we launched our new tortilla pocket - our biggest innovation in seven years - we turned that into a social movement with tennis players and the US Open. We united the tennis community to play tennis with a tortilla pocket to demonstrate that it's actually not messy. But with every tennis player that got involved across nations, we were donating meal kits to help food banks around the world.
"We found a strong cultural moment, and we were doing good. And it turned out to be one of our most awarded campaigns and are one of our most globally appealing campaigns and it's about creating good noise in the world. So, it ties back right back to our brand purpose. It ties back right back to our corporate philosophy,” he said.
The panel, chaired by Creative Salon’s Sonoo Singh, also discussed the issue of a lack of diversity in the marketing industry, particularly at leadership levels, according to a recent Spencer Stuart report.
Tailor said that it was “hugely disappointing” that the number of people from minority backgrounds had decreased. Bose added that diversity will definitely lead to more compelling cultural capital. “Hopefully we're at we're at that crossroads of change,” and this was becoming particularly important as work becomes increasingly borderless.
Here is the link to the on-demand site to watch the session.