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What are you here to do?

Can you communicate your organisational strategy in one word, or a single phrase?

It’s something I advocate strongly during client strategy workshops. The idea is to have a memorable, simple rallying cry, such as IBM’s ‘Think’, Apple’s competitively positioned ‘Think Differently’ or Southwest Airlines ‘Wheels Up’.

We all know how focused each of these organisations have been around these tight themes. For many brands, it is only necessary to hear one word or phrase to instantly know who they are, what they stand for and what they are here to do.

Personally I love the pure simplicity of 1800 Flowers, which is ‘Sell More Flowers’. Because it is so clear and crisp, it’s an example I like to share with my clients, challenging them to create something similarly impactful.

During a ‘pre-COVID’ strategy review session with Cutri Fruit at Swan Hill in Northern Victoria, I worked with business owner, Gaethan Cutri and his leadership team to come up with their theme for the year – one that would resonate with every member of the team, whether planting, pruning, thinning, picking or packing, or working back of house in accounts, marketing, or the leadership team.

One of the biggest challenges Cutri Fruit face in growing fruit in such large volumes, for both domestic supermarket chains and international buyers, is achieving high quality, high grade fruit. Not only do the customers expect a high standard, but the team themselves take significant pride in the quality of product they deliver.

After pushing a few ideas around, the theme we agreed on was ‘Make the Grade’.

It’s a key phrase that works on several levels – not just meeting technical and industry specifications of a quality product, but meaningful for each person in their individual role, as well as driving production, performance and growth of the business. It wonderfully captures the very practical element of creating first-grade fruit.

Every day, in every role, every person has the personal challenge – what are you doing to Make the Grade? It’s a great call out to each person as to how they go about making a difference in the Cutri Fruit business.

There are some key elements that I believe give power to a strategic theme.

  • It relates to what the business actually does (Wheels up = plane taking flight, Making the grade = produce quality fruit)
  • It reflects what your customers want, not just an internal imperative
  • It has universal appeal – everyone in the business can relate to it and contribute
  • The language implies action (making, taking off, selling)
  • It is short, sharp and memorable.

In terms of crafting our own themes for the year, Tom Zender has helped us out with a list of examples and some tips on what makes a strong attribute for your word.

Tom advises that one strong one word themes have key attributes – they are memorable, recall a positive emption, have a benefit, are unique, believable, simple, provocative, original and acceptable. 

On the flip side, weak one word strategies have negative characteristics – they are clumsy, complicated, meaningless, boring, contestable, pretentious, combative, irritating, bland and used by others. 

You can read all of Tom’s great insights here. 

So what’s your theme for the year – something that’s needed even more as we operate in such uncertain and unpredictable times? Could you engage every member of your staff team in an organisation-wide effort, with one word or phrase?

Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash

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