When I started Campfire Communications, I didn't have a big plan or vision for what I wanted it to be. I didn't really know what it stood for. I knew that I wanted to help small business owners tell their stories better. I knew I was good at doing this. And I knew that campfires where a good place to tell stories. So I combined all of that, wrote some web copy, came up with some service packages and started marketing it.
Over time, it's changed and evolved, and I've spent more time thinking about what my business really stands for. And that question is bigger than just 'what problem am I solving'. It's: what do I believe in? What is important to me? What are my values?
And for me it comes down to freedom. I do what I do because I like the freedom to work the way I want to work. And I want to help other people have the same freedom. That could be freedom from a stifling job, a mean boss, financial hardship, having to stay in a crappy relationship because you can't afford to leave, to having the freedom to watch your kids grow up or spend time doing things you love. I realised that I want to help people create businesses that give them the freedom to do all of these things. And while I can't do it all for them, by helping them find, craft and share their stories, I am helping to set them on the path to freedom and living a life they love.
So what does my business stand for? Freedom. How do I demonstrate that? By the very way I work, what I wear, where I work, how I am flexible with clients, the results I get for them and how I'll go out of my way to help them and others even if they're not paying clients.
Here's a far bigger example of a company that doesn't just say what it stands for, it has evolved and is living it. And frankly, I applaud it.
Back in 2014, Airbnb went through a rebrand after having a rethink about what it really stood for. Here's how they described it:
In 2007, Joe and I opened our home up to the first Airbnb guests. They booked a place to stay, but they ended up with something more than just an airbed at a slightly messy apartment. They learned our favorite places to grab coffee, ate the best tacos in the city, and had friends to hang out with whenever they wanted. They were thousands of miles from where they lived, and yet they felt right at home. What started as a way for a few friends to pay the rent has now transformed into something bigger and more meaningful than we ever imagined. And what we realized is that the Airbnb community has outgrown the original Airbnb brand. So Joe, Nate, and I did some soul-searching over the last year. We asked ourselves, “What is our mission? What is the big idea that truly defines Airbnb?” It turns out the answer was right in front of us. For so long, people thought Airbnb was about renting houses. But really, we’re about home. You see, a house is just a space, but a home is where you belong. And what makes this global community so special is that for the very first time, you can belong anywhere. That is the idea at the core of our company: belonging.
They introduced a new logo, which they called the Belo, with the intention that it becomes a recognised symbol that represents belonging. The video below explains it.
Three years on, Airbnb has grown massively. It has had to balance this growth while maintaining its purpose-driven ethos and sense of belonging. Everything it puts out reflects its mission, its values and what it stands for. Its most recent Super Bowl ad is another example of how it is tapping into current issues facing the world and wrapping its story into it.
When you land on Airbnb's home page, this is what you see first thing:
Their mission right up front, not tucked away on an About Us page. They could have said: We let out rooms around the world. Instead it is leading with its mission statement. By having a clear vision, Airbnb has a consistent message and story. And this has led to its phenomenal growth.
So my question to you is: What does your business stand for? What is your mission? How is it reflected in your web copy, your marketing and your actions?
As a small business, you may not have the budget to create clever logos or worldwide brand relaunches like Airbnb did. But you can run a purpose-driven business, where your values and beliefs stand front and centre in all you do. People talk about 'authenticity' a great deal. But something is only authentic when you really and truly believe it yourself.
What do you believe in and how are you letting your customers know that? Feel free to share it in the comments below.
If you want help getting clarity on what your vision, mission, values, beliefs and direction your business should have, get my free Campfire Clarity workbook, or book a Clarity Session with me.