Back to Market and Insights

Davy webinar hears how brand purpose can power a growth mindset

13th August, 2020

As society makes the perilous transition from the ‘now’ normal of Covid-19 to the ‘new’ normal of what happens next, a webinar hosted by Davy, in association with business advisory specialist Genesis, has examined the challenges and opportunities for Irish businesses and workplaces.

In this, it’s becoming clear that organisations have a dual challenge to navigate in the months ahead. On top of the financial and operational issues the pandemic has created, there are also the human and professional needs of employees, customers, and other stakeholders to consider.

Introducing the session, Gary Joyce, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Genesis, explained how a growth mindset will allow us to learn from what has happened during the crisis.

“The pandemic has upended nearly every aspect of life,” she noted. “From the personal, in terms of how people live and work, to the professional, in terms of how companies interact with their customers, how customers choose and purchase products and services, and how supply chains deliver them.

“The true extent of what has happened and, more importantly, the ultimate cost of addressing the consequences, is beginning to unfold,” she went on. “As we begin to open up again, some believe that this time presents us with opportunities not only to do better but to be better.”

On this existential note, Joyce invited her Genesis colleague Mark Nolan, author of a new piece of research entitled ‘Now Next’, to present the highlights of his report.

“Our study gives a clear sense that we’re all in this together,” said Mark Nolan. “Collectively, we’ve gone from a positive outlook to a state of fear, anxiety, boredom and sadness, and what’s striking about this is not only the magnitude of the change but the speed at which it has occurred.

“That said, we have seen a lot of altruism and community spirit – the ‘me for we’ attitude – in spite of the emotional, physical and financial toll that the virus has taken,” he said. “And on the whole, we’ve been coping relatively well.”

Leadership figures

Leaders have emerged from the crisis to help us cope, he explained, not least Ireland’s healthcare workers and frontline staff who have been heroic throughout. Others who have demonstrated leadership include Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan, as well as brands like An Post.

Now that cracks are starting to appear, however – with 2 in 5 survey respondents now beginning to doubt what is true and what can be trusted in terms of information about Covid – that leadership and sense of purpose is needed more than ever.

Turning to panellist Pat Rigney, founder of the Shed Distillery in Drumshanbo, Gary Joyce asked how purpose can help business owners and leaders to drive growth in a post-Covid world.

“Purpose has always been important for us,” said Pat Rigney. “And I think in future, as consumers start looking under the bonnet and wanting to know where their brands come from, purpose is going to be right up on the priority list."

Purpose helps brands connect

“Purpose makes for a more powerful brand,” he continued. “A sense of purpose resonates with consumers and helps brands to connect with people, especially in our curious internet age. On the brand side, my experience is that a strong and clear sense of purpose is an opportunity to recruit and retain great people.”

A serial entrepreneur, synonymous with an ability to spot opportunity where others don’t, Rigney says he is working more closely than ever with his team.

“We’re in a huddle pretty much throughout the week,” he said. “We’re replacing fear with curiosity and trying to see opportunities, but they are fleeting, you have to be awake to them. There’s always a bit of magic involved but it’s mainly about being switched on.”

Taking up that point, the clinical psychologist and acclaimed writer and broadcaster Maureen Gaffney explained that purpose is not some “airy-fairy” corporate word but a hard-wired neuro-scientific phenomenon.

“Purpose is profoundly psychologically enabling, it’s what activates your energy to get anything done,” she said. “Your brain is an anticipation machine, primed to constantly think ‘What can I do now?’ and it’s only when you have a purpose that the system is activated.

“Having a positive purpose immediately tunes you into opportunity,” she continued. “Having purpose at an individual level, at an organisational level, at a societal level, is how we’re going to create an enabling environment, so there’s a big political challenge about not losing this moment.”

While there will be opportunities for brands to thrive, Maureen Gaffney says it is vital that business owners are sensitive to what people have been through and how their priorities have evolved.

“We’re going to become exquisitely attuned into anything that signals to us that a brand or business is not concerned about us and our safety,” said Maureen Gaffney. “While trust has always been a core value, I think now it’s going to come to the fore in an acute, moment-to-moment way.

Trust under the microscope

“With trust, you only really get one shot,” she added. “You form a first impression within a micro-second and while it’s possible to change a good impression, a bad impression is sticky. So, businesses are going to have to carry out psychological audits to make sure they are showing trustworthiness, especially during the transition period.”

At a national level, the Irish Government’s response to the crisis has been “textbook” according to Davy Chief Economist, Conall MacCoille, who told the panel that income support and flexibility around interest rates and repayments has allowed companies to go into hibernation.

“What’s going to be really important is when those companies come out of hibernation,” he said. “These firms have grown their liabilities and while they may have deferred paying their costs, they simply may not be viable after three months [of shutdown].

“We’ve seen worrying research that suggests around 30% of Irish SMEs (small and medium enterprises) no longer see themselves as going concerns, so we may need to see more aggressive grants or a more aggressive credit guarantee scheme,” MacCoille added. “Whatever the new Government decides to do, we need to ensure there’s a clear pathway to a smaller deficit. We can’t simply spend our way out of recession.”

As a business owner himself, Pat Rigney is unequivocal about his main fear in transitioning back to normal. “Does Covid reappear? That’s my primary concern. A big part of our business is the hotel, restaurant and hospitality sector so we’re concerned about the next 12-18 months. My big question is how quickly we can get a vaccine and deal with this problem in a practical way.”

To learn more you can watch the video recording from the event.

Our latest insights

Irish Times and Davy announce ‘Inside Business’ Podcast Partnership

The Irish Times has entered into a new three-year partnership with Davy, which will see the trusted market leader in wealth management and capital markets sponsor the ‘Inside Business’ Podcast.

Click here for the latest episodes