What would Jesse Boot do?

Troubled by the poverty surrounding him, Jesse Boot championed access to healthcare for all at affordable prices. He took over his father’s shop, which opened in 1849, and grew Boots into the company we know today. Jesse broke the mould: he introduced registered nurses into Boots pharmacies [pre-NHS], led the way on community pharmacy, and is even credited with creating the manufacturing weekend to build restorative time for the worker. Today, the essence of the UK’s leading pharmacy-led health and beauty retailer brand remains unchanged. A business built on powerful purpose, innovated in tune with the society of its time.

This week, in the latest of our Oystercatchers Club evenings, our audience of 200 plus business leaders and agency chiefs engaged in lively conversation at London’s May Fair Hotel with a powerful panel of people all at the cutting-edge of change. The topic: can purpose-led transformation achieve business objectives?

Moderated by our CEO, Suki Thompson, Elizabeth Fagan, SVP & Managing Director, Boots; Tamara Ingram, Global CEO, J. W Thompson; Ed Pilkington, Marketing & Innovation Director Europe, Diageo, and, award-winning author Yvonne Thompson, led the conversation.

First a few facts: Meaningful brands proves a 71 percent correlation between content effectiveness and a brand’s impact on our personal well-being. The more personally meaningful a brand becomes the better business results it will achieve. Unilever has reported that its brands with strong purpose grow 30 percent faster than others.

To a woman and a man, our panel agreed: brands with purpose perform better.

Top-line insights we took home:

  • Brand purpose is for life but has to evolve as society evolves. Innovate against it. Be contemporary for society in the current moment of time. A brand will get it right when it represents the people on the streets.
  • Look to company founders. Create a pioneering culture for pioneering brands. Focus on your people so that colleagues and staff live, love and understand the brand purpose too. Give a clear line of sight – so that everyone understands and supports decisions being made.
  • Find your truth. Not every brand should lead a movement – the key lies the relevant role it plays in people’s lives.
  • Tell stories with deep integrity. There has to be a truth around purpose and authenticity is key.
  • Action defines the purpose. Marry articulation of brand purpose with positive activation every single day.
  • Customer at the heart. Represent divergent thinking and people with a culture that defines people and delivery.

As conversation came to close, Elizabeth revealed her touchstone to decision-marketing. It’s simple. “What would Jesse Boot do?” she asks herself for pivotal decisions with purpose and commented that it’s important to hold on to legacy, but, use this to create a future.

Yvonne beautifully wrapped up the evening for us: “If you don’t have a purpose you don’t know where you’re going, so what’s the point?”

We’re thrilled with the feedback on this hot topic and a tremendous line-up on stage. Our huge thanks to our terrific panel, and, to our guests for sparkling participation.

The next Oystercatchers Club, Evolve ‘17 takes place on the 12th July 2017 and will be an interactive event on innovation, creativity and great transformative partnerships. Contact sam.jones@theoystercatchers.com for more information.