Uncovering An Agency’s Secret Customer Weapon – “The Origin Myth”

Uncovering An Agency’s Secret Customer Weapon – “The Origin Myth”
SHARE
THIS



In this guest post, Mark Jones, boss of Sydney-based brand telling agency Filtered Media, says too many digital agencies or media companies want to meddle with their back stories. And to their detriment too…

What do Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, HP and Amazon have in common? Nope, it’s not a joke, but you’ll never guess what happens next!

Sorry, bad clickbait joke.

No, this isn’t a column about giant US tech companies founded by white men of various backgrounds. That’s a story for another day.

So what is it? A fantastic origin myth. Larry and Sergey decided computers would do a better job of indexing the world’s information than humans, and by golly they were right.

Facebook is a remarkable story of a Harvard dorm-room experiment that took over the world, and he’s still wearing a t-shirt.

Microsoft shows you what happens when two enterprising founders recognise there’s money in software, despite IBM’s view the real game was hardware. Amusingly, IBM is now a software and services company.

Apple needs little explanation, but Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak helped cement the idea that great things can begin in a suburban garage. Ditto HP, with Messrs Hewlett and Packard creating an incredibly powerful origin myth that endures to this day — “invent” is embedded in HP Inc. and HPE’s DNA.

Finally, Amazon. Jeff Bezos famously wrote his business plan in a car while on the all-American pioneers’ journey from the East to West coast. Turns out people really do want to buy stuff online, a lot.

The fun thing about the origin myth is that it connects where we are today with the days of yore. It represents a continuous line from the past to the present, an enduring idea that defined a company and underpinned its growth.

The origin myth, therefore, is a symbol of corporate identity.

For the cartoon geeks among us, all of this will sound happily familiar. The origin myth is the back-story, telling us how a superhero gained their superpowers. If Superman hadn’t come from Krypton the world would be a much less safe place, obviously.

So too with our business superheros. I’m not sure that the world would be any more or less safe without them, but it certainly would be very different.

Yet it strikes me that each of these origin myths are almost taken for granted. Anyone in the tech, digital and media worlds absorbs these fables as part of our “industry history 101,” and then we move on — to our peril.

You see, the great temptation with digital marketing is the opportunity to re-write history, or simply tell a different story.

What if your origin myth isn’t “interesting” or, worse, quite terrible? Or what if brand research is telling you the company needs to reposition itself before customers in a way that’s completely out of character?

HP is an interesting case in point. Meg Whitman, quoted in HBR, writes of the company’s turnaround journey:

“I said, ‘What are the core values of this company? Let’s identify what it does really well and do more of that as the anchor for the turnaround. Then let’s make a to-do list of the things to be fixed.’ So we went back to our core founding principles, and the company responded.”

This is a company — now two separate companies in HP Inc. and HPE — that recognised it had strayed from its founding principles and lost sight of the origin myth.

It sounds counter-intuitive, but sometimes in order to go forwards you’ve got to stop and look back to see where you’ve been.

Here’s Meg Whitman again: “It’s very hard to kill founder DNA, and that’s a good thing for HP. Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett have been gone from the company for many years.

“There have been many acquisitions, many changes. But the core values still show through: the ability to do incredible innovation; a passion for customer support and service; giving back to the community. Dave and Bill were social responsibility leaders and environmentalists before those were even terms. We may have fallen on some hard times, but we’re going to double down on those values.”

Time will judge the wisdom of her actions, of course. But when you look across the digital landscape, it’s hard to refute the logic. We live in a socially conscious age where consumers are watching for integrity and honesty — two rare commodities that increase in value with time.

Why? The origin myth. It’s a promise that anchors your company to a point in time, connecting history with the present day reality.

Tell that story well, and stay true to the cause, and you’ll have customers for life.

Subscribe to Mark Jones’ marketing newsletter here.

This article originally appeared on B&T’s sister business site www.which-50.com

 

Please login with linkedin to comment

Latest News

Zenith Sydney MD Karen Halligan To Depart
  • Media

Zenith Sydney MD Karen Halligan To Depart

Zenith Sydney's Karen Halligan has pulled-up stumps, although that's not to infer bad light had anything to do with it.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
PR Agency Hotwire Rebrands
  • Marketing
  • Media

PR Agency Hotwire Rebrands

PR agency Hotwire has rebranded, yet sadly not to "Hot Cocks Who Rock Your Socks Off". Which would've been far cooler.

Challenger Agency VCCP Wins Creative Account For Torrens University Australia
  • Advertising

Challenger Agency VCCP Wins Creative Account For Torrens University Australia

After a competitive pitching process involving five agencies, Torrens University Australia has appointed challenger agency VCCP as its new brand strategy partner and creative agency for 2018. Acclaimed for its work on dynamic brands including ING and Compare the Market in the financial services sector, Laureate Australia CMO Anne Da Cunha said VCCP’s reputation as […]

GumGum Appoints Ansible’s Sarah Baskerville As Victorian Sales Director
  • Advertising
  • Technology

GumGum Appoints Ansible’s Sarah Baskerville As Victorian Sales Director

AI advertising company GumGum has announced the appointment of Sarah Baskerville as its sales director for Victoria. Baskerville joins GumGum from Ansible, where she spent two years as its Melbourne mobile director. Prior to joining Ansible, she was head of specialist sales and partnerships at News Corp Australia, and also held a number of sales […]

The Diamond Concierge Gives Away $85K Ring In Campaign By McCann Queensland
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns

The Diamond Concierge Gives Away $85K Ring In Campaign By McCann Queensland

McCann Queensland’s second instalment of ‘The 5th C’ campaign launched over the weekend for online diamond retailer The Diamond Concierge, which received over 47million views around the world in the first 48 hours of it being released. In this second phase of the campaign, The Diamond Concierge gave away an $85,000 diamond ring, with Gold […]

Sparro Recruits Key Account Director Following Client Wins
  • Marketing

Sparro Recruits Key Account Director Following Client Wins

Digital marketing agency Sparro has announced the appointment of Hannah Jones (pictured above) as a key account director following a spate of client wins. Jones joins Sparro’s senior team alongside founders Cameron and Morris Bryant, overseeing a portfolio of accounts that includes Webjet, Domino’s Pizza, TAFE NSW, Temple & Webster, F45 Training and Bing Lee. […]

Women’s Health’s Jacqui Mooney On Driving A Women’s Brand In An Evolving Industry
  • Media

Women’s Health’s Jacqui Mooney On Driving A Women’s Brand In An Evolving Industry

In an industry facing change, Jacqui Mooney, editor of Women’s Health believes brands such as hers will continue to be a constant. Please note: this article was contributed by Magazine Networks. The magazine industry may be seeing substantial change but Jacqui Mooney has a goal that remains firm: to create happier, healthier lives for Australian women. […]

Why Consumer Brands Are Failing Aussie Mums
  • Marketing
  • Opinion

Why Consumer Brands Are Failing Aussie Mums

Is your game chainsaws or large marlin wall-hangings? Can't seem to attract the mums? This couldn't come soon enough.

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Network Ten Creditors Approve CBS Deal
  • Media

Network Ten Creditors Approve CBS Deal

It seems the fight for Ten between CBS and media moguls Lachlan Murdoch and Bruce Gordon may finally be over.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
MKTG Signs Exclusive Commercial Partnership With PlayersVoice
  • Marketing
  • Media

MKTG Signs Exclusive Commercial Partnership With PlayersVoice

MKTG has announced it has signed an exclusive commercial partnership with newly-launched sports storytelling site PlayersVoice.com.au – an agreement that will see the agency move into a new territory of sports marketing. The partnership between MKTG and PlayersVoice will see the business managing brand partnership opportunities for the new platform; working with clients to deliver […]

Domo Introduces New Data Security Software Solution
  • Marketing
  • Technology

Domo Introduces New Data Security Software Solution

Domo has announced it has introduced new cloud security technology for its Bring Your Own Key (BYOK) software, which includes unique capabilities like rolling generation of data encryption keys and a built-in kill switch. Domo BYOK is the first BYOK enterprise software solution for cloud analytics and business intelligence, and builds on the company’s existing security, compliance and […]

Shopper Media Group Grows Sydney & Melbourne Sales Teams
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Media

Shopper Media Group Grows Sydney & Melbourne Sales Teams

Shopper Media Group (SMG) has continued to grow its Sydney and Melbourne sales teams to keep up with the demand for Smartlite Panels for shopping centres. Ashley Munro joins SMG as group sales manager for Sydney, having previously worked in a similar role at NOVA Entertainment. Laura Mason has been appointed as SMG’s business manager […]

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 14:  Usain Bolt of Jamaica competes in the Men's 100 meter semifinal on Day 9 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 14, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
  • Advertising
  • Media

Olympics, Census Prove Tough Hurdles For Media Agencies: SMI

Australia’s media agency market has experienced another tough month in August, according to the latest data by Standard Media Index (SMI). SMI noted the softer demand this time around was primarily due to the Rio Olympics and Census providing abnormal bookings last year, resulting in demand for August 2017 so far being back 12.1 per […]