Dan Woods is WE’s managing director of Australia, with over 20 years of experience in communications, marketing and business development.
Dan has spent much of his career in the healthcare sector, specialising in reputation building and management. Dan has led multi-million dollar rebrands and marketing programs and developed new business lines in local and international markets. He has overseen issues and crisis programs including mergers and demergers, industrial relations, operational restructures, natural disasters and complex change management programs.
He believes that building relationships and honest, open communication are critical ingredients for establishing purpose, team understanding and achieving business outcomes.
Point of view
Whatever the noise around purpose, one thing is true – every business and brand has one, even if they don’t classify it as such or have properly defined and communicated it. Purpose is the fundamental reason why a business exists in the world.
Some may be better defined and articulated than others; some may be ‘bolder’ and more ambitious. Some may seek to influence society in more emphatic ways and others may be more modest in their ambition. But when you get down to it, every business has a reason for being, an origin story, an ambition to impact people.
The most important thing about purpose is authenticity. Too many times we have seen brands try to co-opt purpose in an attempt to convince us of their social bona fides and position themselves as ‘good for the world’, only to fail to live up to the promises. Simply tacking on a social cause for its own sake is disingenuous, confusing and can lead to all sorts of problems.
It’s much better that a brand knows exactly who they are and why they are (and who and why they are not), who their customers are - what motivates and concerns them - and then define and communicate their purpose from the position of how they enhance their customers’ lives. If in doing so they contribute to broader community and social agendas and responsibilities, certainly this should be integrated, but they should ensure the alignment is there, that it is genuine and not sutured in to give the impression of social conscience.
Each brand, whether big or small, should understand who they are – why they exist, what impact they seek to have, what they do for people and how they make a difference. These are all questions that need tackling when we think about purpose, and should be answered honestly, authentically and without confection. The answers to these questions should then guide the full gamut of business operations.
Not every brand and business is going to ‘change the world’, but they can and should seek to understand and influence its world, and the people within it. When it comes to purpose, sometimes it may be about helping the planet or addressing inequities; and sometimes it may be about putting a smile on people faces through a great cup of coffee. Both are worthy causes and have purpose at the centre.
How one goes about it can make all the difference.
Dan is an experienced marketing and communications professional with particular expertise in:
- Issues and crisis management
- Reputation management
- Brand development / management
- Marketing communications
- Board and Executive communications
- Change management programs
- Industrial relations
- Mergers and Acquisitions
- Internal communications
- Corporate Affairs