You may have noticed there are a couple of topics that we love talking about, topics that run through everything we do – brand and purpose. But why?
Simply because we believe that we are living in a period that will see rapid and unprecedented change in business, in industries, society and the world. This change will be driven by brands that have purpose at their core, brands that lead, not so that others will follow, but so that they will join, collaborate and unite to create a better world. Business brands and personal brands.
Just yesterday, I saw two examples of where this is happening.
Firstly, the BOSS Federation, which is the trade body for the Business Supplies industry, had a conference for its Leaders of the Future group. Various speakers presented on a range of topics, including mental health of which, more in a moment. There were round tables and panel discussions.
At the networking at the end of the event, the Chair of the group was asked by a current industry leader what his biggest takeaway from the day was, and his response was the eagerness and determination of the future leaders, who represent different companies and different sectors of the industry, to work together to find efficiencies, improvements and initiatives that will benefit the industry and the wider world.
They are motivated not by personal ambition or competitive advantage, but by working for the good of all. Not surprising perhaps given that our future leaders are millennials who are moving towards the point of peak influence in businesses.
The other example was of a personal brand making a difference.
Jonny Benjamin suffered from depression from a young age. This condition was severe and developed into psychosis which was severe enough to see him hospitalised and diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder, a combination of schizophrenia and bi-polar. Jonny became convinced that he was living in his own version of the Truman Show, the Jim Carrey film in which nothing other than Carrey’s character is real, everyone else is an actor, every location a film set, all for the entertainment of people who are watching his life unfold.
In 2014, Jonny decided he would end his life by jumping from Waterloo Bridge. While many passed by, one man stopped.
The stranger spoke with Jonny for half an hour, talking him down and making him feel safe. He gave Jonny some hope and belief, and Jonny returned to hospital for treatment.
It was the turning point in his life. Jonny found his purpose, or rather, he says, his purpose found him.
In 2016 Jonny launched ThinkWell, a mental health programme for schools, which has so far been into secondary schools across the UK with huge success. Jonny spent 2017 writing 2 books on mental health, the first of which was published in May 2018. The second, currently titled The Book of Hope, a collection of quotes, poems and stories by himself and others to inspire recovery and hope, will be published later this year.
Jonny’s speaking, writing, film making and campaigning on mental health issues led to the award of an MBE for services to mental health and suicide prevention.
Six years on from the event on the bridge, he decided to try and find the man who saved his life. He believed his name was Mike, though he wasn’t sure. He posted his story on social media with the hashtag #FindMike, and it went viral, reaching almost 320 million people! Through the campaign, he found his saviour, who turned out to be Neil, not Mike, but in any event, with no budget he had achieved his goal through a viral campaign!
In 2019 Jonny, together with Neil, launched a new mental health charity, Beyond Shame Beyond Stigma, a grant-giving organisation which aims to provide mental health support to young people, their families and teachers.
What an extraordinary journey and what a great example of finding purpose and using it to start a quiet revolution in mental health care for young people. We wish him every success.
If you would like to donate to the Beyond Charity, you can do so at wearebeyond.org.uk/donate or text “BEYOND10” to 70085 to donate £10. To give a different amount, text BEYOND followed by any whole amount between £1-£20.
David Langdown is co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Focus7, a purpose-driven, brand-led growth agency. David has been a Fellow of the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing since 2003. He has an Advanced Professional Diploma in Psychotherapeutic Counselling and is a practising counsellor.