This is part two of our culture series, where we give you a behind-the-scenes look at how we’re building our culture and brand.
As mentioned in the first article of this series, there are two things we set out to create towards the end of 2019:
- An internally-facing company handbook: An employee handbook that explains our company culture, so new hires and existing employees have a frame of reference for how to succeed. You can read it and download our company handbook at this link.
- An externally-facing marketing tagline and what our “core beliefs” are: We wanted to let our customers and the public know how we operate as a company. It’s an inside look into what it’s like to work with us and what we stand for.
We actually started by creating the company handbook before the tagline. We thought creating the handbook was more straightforward, and that turned out to be correct.
Here’s the process of creating our tagline and core beliefs.
Why create a tagline?
Our new tagline is Move Purposely, and it is accompanied by our core beliefs, which you can find in the next section.
I know many companies go on for years without ever creating a tagline, and in many cases, a tagline isn’t created until the company is very successful and popular. But I wanted to create a tagline to communicate what stands us apart and to give our prospective customers and potential hires an idea of what it’s like to work with us.
I didn’t want to be just a software development agency. The world doesn’t need another company that can build software. So the biggest reason was to differentiate us and communicate our value proposition.
What’s the point of documenting our core beliefs?
Core beliefs are statements that describe “what your company believes in.” In a world where most companies talk about what they do, we wanted to talk about why we do things the way we do them. We recognize that the work we do is somewhat commoditized. There are thousands of other companies who could claim to do the same work as us.
But our secret sauce, the core of what we do, the reason why we outperform many other agencies, is our why. And we wanted to communicate that internally and externally.
We also knew our why would fuel the creation of our tagline, so we started with creating our core beliefs before our tagline.
Here are our core beliefs:
We relentlessly pursue the truth.
We relentlessly pursue the truth with a deep focus on solving the problem at hand. We do our due diligence and gain a deep understanding of the problem we’re solving before a single piece of code is written. We ask a lot of questions to uncover the real problem and verify the impact of the problem when we solve it.
We are calculated.
We cut once, measure twice. Once we start coding and architecting a digital solution, we will already have confidence in our direction. This means no false starts and no over-promising and under-delivering. This also means we take calculated risks if we see an opportunity for further success.
We are persistent.
We have a bias for exploration. We will continue to find different ways to solve a problem until we’re confident there will be little to no side effects. Instead of relying on brute-forcing solutions, we rely on our collective minds to uncover problems and solutions. Our work is not done until it has made an impact.
We are deeply focused.
We structure engagements to allow our entire team to be dedicated to individual projects and focus on making the biggest impact possible. We maintain a deep focus in order to solve problems.
We are puzzle solvers.
We have a passion for overcoming challenges. We might spend a little more time upfront to understand what puzzle we’re solving, or how to solve the puzzle, but once we do, we’re filled with joy and fulfillment. Our team is stacked with problem solvers.
We adapt to our client’s environment.
We find our way around and adapt to every environment we’re thrown into. We’ve had the pleasure of working in every type of business environment (from large enterprises to scrappy, chaotic bootstrapped startups), and in every situation, we keep our cool and find practical solutions to big problems. We embed ourselves within the client, whether that’s onsite in their offices or within our own confines.
We are not a code factory.
Yes, we are engineers at heart, but we are more interested in solving problems instead of just writing code.
Now, the tagline. Here are the steps we took to create our tagline, Move Purposely.
I feel like every tagline creation process starts with a Google search. And, of course, you end up evaluating the most famous ones like Nike’s “Just Do it” and Apple’s “Think Different.” These taglines have stood the test of time.
But we aren’t a billion-dollar company, so we went back and forth on what our tagline should encompass.
We set a few rules during our journey:
- It has to represent who we actually are as a firm: If the tagline sounds great but doesn’t deeply represent us, then we have to pass on it. I’ve seen too many companies with mission statements and taglines that they don’t actually live by or stand by. I wanted our tagline to have meaning and depth. I didn’t want it to be a token marketing ploy.
- It should be unique, memorable, and ideally two words: I’ve seen some longer taglines, but I’ve always been a big fan of shorter ones. The more words in a tagline, the less memorable it would be, in my opinion.
- It shouldn’t be specific to the technologies we work with: Although a majority of our work is specific to React Native, we’ll grow to work with a variety of technologies. And I wanted our team to think bigger than just a specific technology, or even technology in general.
- It’s something we stick with for at least five years: We wanted to create a tagline that would last a long time, if not forever, even though our company is only a few years old and creating a tagline might be jumping the shark. This rule ended up being the biggest constraint for us.
We also didn’t want to start with what we do, but instead with our why. Why we do what we do?
We looked into several things:
What are our key differentiators? Are our differentiators really that distinct from everyone else? “We do things better” isn’t a tagline or a differentiator.
How much of the company culture is derived from me, the founder and CEO? We also considered the personality attributes related to how I lead the company.
What are the attributes of a fox, and is there any relation to our name Foxbox Digital? Well, if you ever wanted to know why we named the company Foxbox, you’re not going to be too impressed. I wanted a name that hints at what we do without being obvious. There are beautiful, cunning foxes on my favorite ski mountain, and they stood out to me. We build things, and so a box represents what we build. We had to add “Digital” for SEO, and because it says that we’re a digital agency. That’s the truth!
When we were evaluating our tagline and core beliefs, we started to see if there were any attributes from a fox, the animal. This turned out to be eye-opening.
Here is an excerpt I found online about the attributes of a fox:
Flamboyance is not the fox's style; it prefers to remain inconspicuous in a small, cozy house, which is usually organized and neat. Choosing subtlety and cunning over brute strength, they are unquestionably hunter personalities and are usually in good physical shape and perform well in pastimes that challenge both mind and body.
Largely misunderstood to be a shy, retreating individual, it's the fox's stature as a small carnivore that defines its survival strategy. Because it cannot succeed using brute force alone, the fox must rely on its sharp mind and engaging personality to garner resources.
Their love of exploration dovetails with their passion for overcoming challenges, which is why foxes are often found mountain climbing or journeying to exotic, forbidden places.
This description of a fox, in many ways, represents Foxbox Digital. We were pleasantly surprised by this. It doesn’t mean we’re going to adopt a fox as a domesticated animal anytime soon, but it’s good to know we are alike.
All of this information gave us enough to move on to the next step, which is picking a tagline.
Tying it back to archetypes.
An archetype is an ideal example or model after which other things are patterned. It’s considered a typical example of a thing or person. There is no definitive list, but this site has a good list of 300 archetypes.
Defining an archetype helped us come up with better tagline options that were meaningful and represented who we were as a firm. What’s interesting is that we actually created our archetypes based on my personality instead of the firm’s. It was easier to do the exercise based on me. Ironically, we uncovered that the people we hired all had similar personality types and technology backgrounds.
We identified that I fall under three archetypes:
I have a big fear of mediocrity, and I’ve been a creator all of my life, so this one hit home. Being a co-founder of several tech startups before this, my DNA is to be creative, imaginative, and not conforming to the status quo.
As a technical leader for most of my career, I found myself being an equally good communicator. Communication is one of my strong points, so I knew this archetype definitely represented me.
I’m actually not a real gambler, by any means, but I am an entrepreneur at heart. And risk-taking is part of what I do every day. This made it into our core beliefs where we talk about taking calculated risks. We measure twice, cut once, but we also take measured risks we think will benefit our clients.
So now, up until this point, we have our core beliefs, archetypes, and rules for creating a tagline defined. The next step is the easy part, right? The tagline.
Iterating tagline options and picking one.
The hardest part of picking a tagline is falling in love with one. I thought the right tagline would just stand out, and we would have a “this is the one” type of moment, but that wasn’t the case.
We liked the word purposefully. So, once we decided on that word, we created more versions to see what would stick.
- Move Purposefully
- Think Purposefully
- Act Purposefully
- With Purpose
- Be Purposeful
- Grow Purposefully
We all decided that “Move Purposefully” best represented us, which we ended up shortening to “Move Purposely” in the end. We also really liked “we relentlessly pursue the truth” as our tagline, but it was too long and vague.
It took a few weeks for the right tagline to digest. And as I bounced ideas off our team, it took them extra time as well. We started going through several versions of taglines.
“Move Purposely” fits all of our criteria. It’s an exact representation of how we operate as a company. Since the day this company was created, we moved with a purpose. The way we build software, treat our clients, marketing, sales, etc., all revolve around us moving forward with a purpose.
Move Purposely it is! Now we move to the next steps.
Now what? What do you do after creating a tagline?
Here’s where it gets interesting and is a moment of truth for a company. We asked ourselves this question: Do we love this tagline so much that we’re willing to update all of our material to reflect it? This means creating new business cards, updating our website, letterheads, promotional materials, etc.
We incorporated it into our:
- Sales proposals
- Every sales proposal and resource profile has our tagline and blurb about our core beliefs.
- Business cards
- We are in the process of designing new business cards with our tagline at the center of it.
- Onboarding: Every employee gets onboarded with the Foxbox Way and our core beliefs.
- Lagniappes: A lagniappe is something given as a bonus or gift. We’re currently exploring ideas for products we can give to employees and clients. A sample idea is sending a custom puzzle with the Move Purposely tagline and a note about how we are puzzle solvers, which is one of our core beliefs. When it all comes together, it feels nice and genuine.
- Blog posts: We weren’t going to let a good marketing opportunity pass us by.
In the end, the process was worth it, and I highly recommend it for companies of all sizes.
Actually sitting down and being intentional about the company we are creating, and documenting it, was a rewarding and humbling experience for all of us.
It gave us a chance to discover why we’re doing this in the first place, and uncover how other companies similar to us are doing it.
Based on the internal reactions from discussing the Foxbox Way, tagline, and core beliefs, they’ve been a huge benefit for everyone. New hires have a clear understanding of who we are and how they fit in. I hope our tagline sends a clear signal to the market about why we’re unique and what it’s like to work with us. I’ll report back once I have more data to share.
Thanks for being part of our journey, and if you have any questions at all, please feel free to contact us.
Rob Volk is Foxbox Digital’s founder and CEO. Prior to starting Foxbox, Rob helped Fortune 100 clients, including Pfizer, USPS, and Morgan Stanley build and scale enterprise apps. He was the CTO of Beyond Diet and implemented technology that scaled to over 350k+ customers, and was the CTO and Co-Founder of Detective (detective.io), a venture-backed intelligence platform that amassed 200k+ users in a short time frame. Read more