Stakeholder Passion – Brand Story Alignment

Sustainable Stainless Butterfly

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting Mark Sampson, a brilliant brand strategist and corporate storyteller.

We spent a few hours over a couple of pints (4 each to be precise!) discussing new age brand communication strategies and specifically brand storytelling.

One of our many discussions centered around the idea that a brand story is only as authentic as the belief of its stakeholders in it.

We agreed that the best brand stories are the ones that are passionately championed by the brand’s stakeholders including shareholders, employees, suppliers and everyone else who is related to or directly benefits from the business (including customers and clients).

To inspire passion, a business must effectively communicate why it does what it does rather than just how it does it.  If it accomplishes this goal, stakeholders will align themselves with and rally behind the brand and champion its cause. Brand advocates are born.

Think Zappos and their fanatical passion for customer service or Google and their passionate and relentless pursuit of the goal of organizing the world’s information and making it accessible to all.

Outokumpu is another good example of a brand that lives and breaths its story. It was brought to my attention by Anton Molander, owner of Cocoa Productions.

Anton was the executive producer in the recently published documentary “Stainless Passion” featured later in this post.

According to the Outokumpu website:

“At Outokumpu we create the future out of the past. We take the material that society discards and recycle it into the stainless steel that is used around the world to build the industrial and urban landscape of the future. Outokumpu sustainable stainless steel is our contribution to the fight against waste and short-term solutions. The recycled content of our stainless steel is 90%, it is created to last centuries and once the project has reached the end of its life, to be recycled and reborn.”
More about Outokumpu’s passion for stainless steel

Stainless Passion: The story of Seppo Saarikoski

When you think of stainless steel, the last thing that comes to mind is passion.  Not in this case.

The story of Seppo Saarikoski and his love and contagious passion for stainless is a wonderful example of a personal story that reflects what the brand stands for; pure stainless steel passion.

Seppo Saarikoski, is a Stainless Steel Superman.  He’s an internationally renowned Finnish stainless steel sculptor.

The story goes…

One morning Seppo Saarikoski, sculptor and painter from small town in Finland, saw an ad in his local newspaper featuring a butterfly.  The brand was Outokumpu.  The ad was planned and produced by Havas, as part of their “We create the future out of the past” brand concept for Outokumpu.

Mr.Saarikoski got inspired by the ad and decided to create his stainless steel version of the Butterfly.

Once finished, he contacted Outokumpu and set a meeting with their marketing team.  Marko Vuorensola of Havas was at the meeting to see what this interesting artist had produced.

Marko was immediately immpressed and saw that Seppo’s individual passion towards stainless steel as material and towards his own work and art had similarities with Outokumpu’s approach towards their product and its production process.

Marko felt that it would be a story worth exploring.  He wanted to meet Mr Saarikoski again to see if he had the right substance and to see his workshop in Perniö, southwest Finland.

After a few weeks Havas suggested to Outokumpu’s marketing team that this story would truly be worth telling in a form of a mini documentary.

Seppo had already given his blessing for the idea. Outokumpu representatives saw the possibilities and Havas started demo
scripting the documentary and organised further meetings with Seppo.

At this point Havas started scouting potential production partners for the project.  Quite soon it became clear that Cocoa and Taito Kawata as director would be ideal for the project. Taito has the kind of visual approach that Havas were after.  A meeting was set to share the vision and kick off work on the fantastic project.

Stainless Passion: The Birth of Brand Advocates

Seppo and Outokumpu share common ground. They have a mutual passion for every aspect of stainless steel.

Stainless Passion produced by the brilliant folks at Cocoa Productions is a glimpse into Seppo’s life and passion for stainless steel.  Watch and be inspired…


Stainless Steel has always been Seppo Saarikoski’s true passion. According to his own words: “I’d be nothing without stainless steel.”

How wonderful and how lucky for a brand such as Outokumpu to be associated with such an amazing man.

When stakeholders share passions, stories are aligned and brand advocates (myself included) are born – no matter what the product or service.

Great work Havas, Cocoa, Seppo and Outokumpu! Inspiring work, a story well told and brilliantly executed!

Now over to you

Is your brand story aligned with that of your stakeholders’? Have you communicated why you do what you do rather than how you do it? Do all your stakeholders believe in and champion your message?  What can you do to inspire them to rally behind your story and become advocates? Share your views…


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