Business & Brand: Supporting Our Portfolio Companies

An Adjuvo Townhall Event, Moderated by BJ Cunningham

“A brand is a promise, not a logo”

In 2015, Mark Foster-Brown and Andrew Rice founded Adjuvo, named for its distinctive vision to “help” and add value to invested early-stage companies beyond financial investment.

Within a zeitgeist characterised by rising interest rates and accelerated innovation in artificial intelligence, building connections and facilitating honest discussions within a sector-agnostic portfolio remains an ardent priority; true to the essence of Adjuvo’s long-term brand.

As BJ Cunningham, Brand Consultant and Founder of Death Cigarettes, states: “Branding is about making promises. Business is about keeping promises”.

On 27th September, Adjuvo’s promise translated into a candid, collaborative fireside chat where founders and CEOs openly examined their brands in a townhall moderated by BJ himself.

The job of every founder and CEO is to tell the same story every day: to live and breathe their brand promise and to create alignment within their teams. There were only two questions they all needed to answer:

  • What is your point?

  • Why should we care?

Over 90 minutes, 18 management teams from Adjuvo’s investment portfolio gathered to explore the often difficult nature of communicating and establishing their brand promise.

Three of the following themes emerged:

Good news travels fast… but bad news travels faster

“Our promise is heavily influenced by market sentiment, which is influenced by government decisions. We try to communicate with investors, clients, and employees within 24 hours. What you guys don’t see is the craziness that goes on behind the scenes for the Board on WhatsApp”

Uncomfortable but inevitable obstacles that come up against brand promises are best faced through proactive crisis communication. The process of maintaining an unmistakable brand requires involvement with all stakeholders so that trust in a promise is built and earned through consistent communication.

Hybrid working: Informalities and the unionisation of the middle class

“We are struggling with general informality amongst the team and there are blurred boundaries. Are they working or painting their fence? Accountability is one of the things that we are trying to drive as much as possible: you can work from home but publish your achievements on our Slack channel”

In a society where hybrid working is regarded as ‘the new normal’, questions arose relating to the blurring of lines between personal and professional identities within the working week. Encouraging clear actions that demonstrate personal accountability can help leaders to build trust in each employee that they will continue to deliver their promise, all whilst embracing individual identities.

“Working from home could be referred to as the unionisation of the middle classes. Good for anyone who’s had the privilege of living in a nice house with a private room and has the seniority to not need to come in”

Developing a shared belief system within a company may be compromised by a widening gap between employees with different backgrounds who work in contrasting conditions. Acknowledging individual circumstances and providing a common working space can increase feelings of inclusivity and develop a shared vision across a workforce.

Hire slow… fire fast

“I made a mistake of hiring a friend, but they can become separate from your business while still in it at the detriment of goodwill. That kind of friendly nepotism becomes infectious and toxic. Your brand promise is compromised”

There’s a famous adage: ‘Believe, or leave’. Organisational psychologists have identified the importance of intrinsic motivation for workplace satisfaction and productivity, where employees receive internal gratification for working towards a job-specific promise. Discussions in the session identified that hiring based on friendship rather than the sharing of promises can put judgments to the test and create a knock-on effect on motivations across the wider team.

True to embodying Adjuvo’s promise: ‘I help’, we have always hoped that hosting townhalls for our founders would be useful and interesting, and the feedback from those attending was that it was insightful and fun to be a part of.

If you are interested in exploring Adjuvo’s investment portfolio please click here to find out more.

Written by Francesca Willis, Associate at Adjuvo.

#Adjuvo #Branding #InternalBranding #RemoteWork #Entrepreneurship #CommunityBuilding #ValueCreation

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