The Sandblog: Where we share the toys of inspiring thoughts, ideas and insights - all in one place
The Day You Find Out Why You Were Born
Created on December 5, 2016

The Day You Find Out Why You Were Born

by Rod Anderson, President, Sandbox Brand Marketing


What does this mean and why is it important to people and companies?

At some stage in our lives most of us probably ponder just what the hell we were put here to do, or at the very least, why are we doing what we do and what it is we like about what we are doing.

While I am not a philosopher, probably far from it, I do feel we have a purpose while we’re here. That being said, some of us go through life never really knowing why we are here or figuring out what we are truly great at. I believe those that figure the answers to these questions out early on in life, are the ones that are able to deliver significant impact to the world and those around them.

I believe the same is true for companies and leaders of those companies. Some companies start out with this understanding of goals and their core purpose is clearly identified and communicated to all. Other companies scale without a clear identification of their core purpose and they can sometimes grow to be very good companies, but fail to ever reach the type of impact they could have had, if they had done the heavy lifting to determine what their company’s true purpose is. 

The Zappos core purpose is to be the “online service leader”. By focusing on being the online service leader as their purpose and differentiator, they are able to make significant growth decisions like partnering with Amazon, and moving beyond selling shoes into other categories of goods like watches and eyewear. An identified purpose allows for these decisions to be made more easily if they align and support the purpose you have set out to fulfill.

Once a company understands its core purpose, formalizes it into a statement, communicates it to its team, and allows the team to embrace and own the purpose, all decisions start to become easier to make. A core purpose also allows the company to develop and define a clear vision. It is powerful to work in a company that has a clear purpose that drives the business and it’s decisions. From a customer and brand perspective it is easy to see and understand what makes that company different, be it in a hyper competitive market like Procter and Gamble and the consumer packaged good world, or Apple in the technology sector. Customers know what these companies stand for and the brands they develop are all driven by a customer focused core purpose.

Does every person or company have a purpose?

I find that many companies are “me-too” types of companies, created and built to compete in an industry and provide a living for its owners and employees while servicing customers in whatever it is they do. These companies are modeled after others already in the sector with no real intention of being significantly different in the market, or to deliver significant change or impact in the world. 

Then there are those companies and brands we meet with that have been built with a purpose by a visionary, but they have never been able to, or have yet to try to uncover what it is that really drives them and their cultures everyday. These companies do have a magic that exists inside but require a little help defining what their purpose is. These businesses are designed to have significant growth and impact if they can align to an authentic purpose and start making more decisions based on that purpose.

Maybe the same can be said for people. Those that figure out their purpose or feel they have one seem to go through life finding it easy to get involved with the things they are driven by, while not being distracted by things that they are not. They have a flow in how they approach their lives and careers and seem effortless in work. They are happier than most and deliver impact in whatever they care about. They are typically very interesting and energizing to be around and know.

So what about Sandbox?

We have invested time to understand what it is that we are good at and what it is that we love to do: our purpose. The statement that best captured why we are here is “To Reveal True Greatness”. This statement stands true for our team and our ecosystem partners, as well as for the clients and brands we are honoured to serve. 

The statement has special impact to us in that “revealing” has two meanings:

  1. to uncover through a deep dive an understanding what it is that makes a leader, company, and brand authentically different and great.
  2. to help tie this greatness into a meaningful message that can be communicated internally and externally in a way that creates impact for all of our clients.

Sandbox is exploring the process of “Revealing True Greatness” for more people, more companies, and in more significant ways. To hear more about what we’re up to, and for the opportunity to reveal the greatness within your company, contact us directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. today.

Become An Idea
Created on November 21, 2016

Become An Idea

by Teyden Haycroft, Marketing Account Manager, Sandbox Brand Marketing

In an economy like this, many businesses are taking the opportunity to stop and take stock in their company. Is it a good time to look at your business and think about your thinking?

Both companies and households are working with smaller budgets, each purchasing decision is scrutinized. And yet some items will never make it to the cutting block, no matter how tight times might get.

If your iPhone were to break tomorrow, are you downgrading your phone to a cheaper model or shelling out seven hundred big ones for a new one? Throughout historical recessions, one of the last items to go from the shopping list was the missus’ signature shade of lipstick. Why are these items we can’t live withoutabout, even when times get a little tough?

Why… because people buy ideas, not products or services.

It’s not just a phone, it’s the idea that it’s a part of who you are. It’s not just a shade of red on her lips, it’s part of her feminine identity. It’s the idea that product represents, and their customers will be loyal to the end.

So does your business sell an idea, or some thing?

When you’re selling something, people often sell the features and benefits of that product. But an idea transcends the products/services they are selling. What is much more effective is to be able to sell the idea of something, and get really good at that.

The key is to have an idea that isn’t out there yet, or that is poorly expressed. People will either love or hate the idea, and buy it or not – but the ones that align with that idea will be loyal to you until the end of time. That’s because they truly believe in what you and your brand represent for them. It aligns with their values, reinforces their identity of self, and makes them feel better about themselves for holding that belief.

Companies that still base their business model’s around selling a product or service typically follow this formula: present the product or service, here’s it’s features and benefits. Our #1 goal is to sell more of this product.

But this thinking is dated. Everything has changed now.

Businesses that are built around what they sell instead of an idea can especially struggle in markets facing an economic downturn.  The competition is incredibly fierce because anyone can come in and start selling the same product or service that you do, but for cheaper, and of course everyone has to follow suite. It’s hard to actually make profit off of this, and even worse if you’re selling a low-margin commodity product. Too much competition also means it’s deltealso harder to stand out. And even if you have the best product at this moment, someone is inevitably going to come along with something better, sleeker, lighter, faster, etc.

But here’s the bigger problem – you’ve built your business and your brand around selling product X. You’re painted into a corner. Because it’s a product or service based business model, you must stay within their industry and product/service category or risk losing all the brand equity you’ve built up over the years. You don’t have room to pivot onto something new, your customer base won’t follow you there.

Now, consider if that same company had defined their brand around an idea – something that they are ALL about. Ideally it’s an idea that speaks to a highly defined audience and how it will make their life better.  When they started that business, they hadn’t even thought of the product yet. They can sell multiple products and services that align with their big idea. This company never has to change their business model due to market forces or competition, because the big idea is applicable to multiple products/services, in varying industries and categories, that can be scaled up or down. And their idea also has a more meaningful point of differentiation than the competitor who’s trying to sell a product. For the customer, you’re focusing on “me” and no one cares about me like they do.

The key to building this type of company is this:  you have to have a big idea that makes customer feel special.  Remember, they have to align with it in a way that makes them feel good about the choice they are making. It reinforces their idealistic version of themselves. The perceived value of a big idea like that is ultimately higher than any product or service’s features and benefits.

Here’s the other key to this type of business model: you won’t have to work as hard to engage customers with your business BUT you will have to ensure you keep them very, very happy. You need to hang on to them, because it’s harder to get them in the first place.  Selling an idea is going to take more effort than selling someone an item. The payoff? Selling them a product will not make people stay with you forever! Selling them an idea will buy you loyalty, even when budgets are slashed.

Yours is an idea they can’t live without.

At Sandbox we’re all about revealing your company’s BIG IDEA, and helping you gain customers who align with it. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. today to speak directly with our President & CEO Rod Anderson about how we can help your business transition from selling a product to being an idea.

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