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Why we said no to a potential client (with a whopping budget)

Posted on Mar 21, 2019 by Rachel  | Comments (0)

Man doing the peace sign

Earlier this week we had to make a tough choice. A choice that ultimately put Brand New Story's purpose and values to the test.

Rachel had been chatting to a fellow LinkedIn member and earlier this week he was kind enough to introduce us to one of his clients. When we asked him why, one of the things he said was: ‘I want them to speak with you before they go ahead and spend £100k or whatever with a creative agency. They’ve wasted so much money on agencies who have never really got it right.’

Those words were music to our ears. After four years of blood, sweat and fears people are finally starting to see the value that creating a Brand New Story offers.

It also told me that...

  • Nothing a 'traditional agency' had done for his client had ever really cut it (for the best part of a decade) and they'd wasted goodness knows how much time and money.
  • This potential client has a healthy budget. A very healthy budget.
  • Someone in the know can see the benefit of creating a Brand New Story over traditional approaches to branding and culture.

But then, as so often happens in business, a big old spanner dumped itself right in the middle of our 'perfect client' fantasy. What soon became apparent was that the company in question wasn't exactly aligned with Brand New Story's purpose and values. 

How do you stay true to your purpose and values?

It didn't take much digging to realise that this potential client was, in fact, a fossil fuel company.

Noooooooo!

At first we just sat with the realisation. Knowing they have a massive budget. And for a moment we tried to picture a world where we could still possibly justify pitching for the work. Knowing they have a massive budget. I think they call that the bargaining stage! No such world exists, right?

Sure, we could do with another client. But you only have to glance at Brand New Story’s values of courage, consciousness and contribution to see how the decision made itself.

Rachel is a former employee of one of Britain's foremost green energy companies and a planet-loving-tree-hugger so there's no way she could ever justify working with a company that (and there's no way of sugar-coating this) is helping to destroy the planet.

After that, all that was left to do was be courageous and politely say ‘Thank you. But no thank you'.

National Portrait Gallery drops £1m donation

Then yesterday morning, a news article appeared about the National Portrait Gallery dropping a £1m grant from the Sackler family who own the big pharma company Purdue Pharma LP. A company that produces the highly addictive opioid prescription painkiller, OxyContin and currently has a plethora of lawsuits in waiting at the US courts. 

It must have been a tough call for the team at the National Portrait Gallery to make that decision. The art world has a glut of 'big business' support, with companies like BP funding many galleries and exhibitions. But it's a decision that has brought them much admiration both here and across the pond. So much so, that The Tate has followed suit. It felt to see how good decisions can lead to more good decisions, so I decided to write about my experience here in case you're struggling with something similar.  

This is what living your values looks like

It's not always easy making decisions in business. But every single choice you make shapes your brand, its culture and the world we live in. For better or worse.

Knowing and living your values will make hard decisions easier. Because you get to choose from the heart, even if it negates the bottom line.

For us, this has been an important reminder that being a values and purpose-led company requires an unshakeable willingness to walk the talk, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us feel.

Ultimately, it's felt so good to make a decision wholly in alignment with Brand New Story's purpose and values.

Yes, the bills may still be rolling in and our pipeline (no pun intended) may not be bursting at the seams right now following our decision to focus on working with larger organisations. But we will get there - with our dignity still intact and a truly ethical brand to boot.

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