In the head offices of HubSpot, an American software company, there is the Candy Wall, a wall covered and sweet shop dispensers – you can eat as many of the sweets as you want, for nothing.
It’s like Willy Wonka’s factory come to life.
As described in Dan Lyons’ funny and brilliant Disrupted, it was one of the features proudly pointed out on a tour of the building.
You’d see lots of young people, see the pool tables and the nerf gun battles, hear about the parties, and conclude: this is a really fun place to work.
And it would be important that you did feel that, because you wouldn’t be paid very much. The business model depends on being able to recruit lots of young people willing to work and not be paid very much.
Another crucial element was creating a sense of mission – we’re going to change lives.
HubSpot is a software company, selling to small businesses. Its software helps you set up a website and blog, and send marketing emails. But the language used is of giving people the tools to transform their lives, and supercharge them on their business adventure.
If you want these young people to join you, stay with you and work hard, and do this for not very much money, you’d better not tell them they’re doing this so that one day the founders and venture capitalists can cash out with a big payday.
You probably don’t have a candy wall, but you do have something HubSpot doesn’t – a genuine mission, not a made-up one.
You are helping people, you are changing lives.
But we can learn a lot from HubSpot. A strong culture is important to give people energy and direction. And not only do your team need this, everyone connected with you – your trustees, your donors, your beneficiaries – also need to feel strongly and understand what you are doing and why.
And that, in essence, is what a brand is.