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Decoding Digital: Mark Wolstenholme and ‘Brand purpose and performance’

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The next Door4 Decoding Digital event is fast approaching (12 November in fact – find out more or register here).

We took time to talk to one of our featured speakers, Mark Wolstenholme – brand builder and specialist in helping businesses find their purpose.

Hi Mark, thanks for agreeing to take part in November’s Decoding Digital event – for those not familiar with your work, could you tell us about what you do?

I’ve worked with businesses for over 20 years in branding, product launches, strategy and PR – but my main focus is on helping them define and communicate their authentic purpose.

A while ago I was involved in developing Scottish & Newcastle Brewery’s ‘Lionheart Appeal’, a way for them to give back to the community in a meaningful way that impacted the lives of real people. For such a large organisation, I was amazed by how much they got on board with supporting local charities and worthy causes.

Around six years ago I worked with several clients in the social housing sector. Again, it was refreshing to see how these housing associations were genuinely keen to make a positive difference to communities and individuals, not just be seen as faceless landlords with meaningless or greenwashed statements on their websites.

Experiences like these have affected how I work with businesses – I always aim to help those that want to make an actual difference and see the effects of their efforts.

Those authentic connections and impacts are presumably easier to communicate in an offline/traditional PR sense – how does it translate into the digital sector?

Actually, digital has helped consumers to seek out brands and content that aligns closely with their values, now they’re not restricted to the best local option. It’s enabled more research, looking at reviews and social shares – so genuine relevance and authenticity has become more important.

Purpose is no longer a buzzword, or a trend that profit-led businesses can hope will fizzle out. It requires proper buy-in from the top down.
And online enables much wider scope for communication. Your website can be updated and used as a richer comms tool than just waiting to feature in the local newspaper.

Is that the sort of thing you’ll be talking about on the day?

Yes – where Jamie will be focusing more on how brand strategy can impact performance, I’ll be highlighting the importance of brand purpose.

Those areas overlap of course – but my expertise is drawn from hands-on experience of helping brands that have a genuine aim to divert resource – financial or time – into doing good and helping people.

What led to you speaking at Decoding Digital?

I’ve actually known Leon for a number of years in a professional sense and been aware of Door4’s work – plus our daughters were at school together, haha!

Some people probably have a fixed idea of what online performance looks like and I respect the way Door4 challenge this and understand that many things can have an impact. That could be brand strategy, products and services, or the area I’m most interested in – authenticity and helping genuine causes.

Is that what you want people to take away from the presentation?

Well eight-out-of-ten of the businesses I encounter these days are keen to do something real – not just put a message on their site saying they’ll plant a tree or give to the homeless. And of course there’s nothing wrong with donating money – but people are more aware now of how to engage with brands that get involved more immersively with the causes they’re passionate about.

A good example is the homelessness charity ‘Emmaus’, who have an excellent corporate partnership programme that fully involves businesses in everything from volunteering to cause-related marketing.

So I’d be happy if someone sees the presentation and goes away feeling inspired to give real consideration to their brand purpose.

Ultimately, if you aim to help people, communities or the environment, your online performance will see the benefits too. If you can engage with customers on their level about things they care about, you can build relationships and brand loyalty.

Thanks Mark!

Book onto ‘It’s good to be B.A.D!’

Dominic Harrington, Jamie Kelly, Mark Wolstenholme, plus Tom Morton will be exploring how brand, acquisition and data in digital performance ensures maximum beneficial outcomes from digital productions – register now.

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