Photo Credits: The Sponge Australia
Why did you become a ‘Conscious’ business? When did you get certified as a BCorp?
The Sponge officially launched in 2001 as a full service branding agency founded by three graphic designers in a Cabana in Sydney’s south. We had no intention of purpose back then, only high quality branding and design work.
Over the years that ensued we were brand cowboys, helping whoever paid us the money to build their brands, regardless of what they sold. We grew to a team of 16 working on lots of projects, from new brands, to rebrands and marketing campaigns, across many different industries.
While we were doing high quality work, and making money, the work lacked fulfillment.
Until one Saturday morning in December 2015, Luke Faccini hit play on a documentary on Netflix and it did a number on him. It was called The True Cost and it revealed all the senseless deaths, destruction and devastation caused by the fast fashion industry. Before it was done, he was done. That was his purpose moment.
He decided he could no longer work for brands that were about profit at all costs. We fired a bunch of clients and imploded the business. We started again from scratch, choosing to work only with businesses who have a positive impact in the world, or the intent to go on that journey.
Not long after this Luke was introduced to B Labs by an author friend. He was in the process of building an application which captured the social sentiment of brands at the time, and after discovering B Corporation he was compelled to certify.
On January 1 2017 The Sponge became an officially Certified B Corp.
What is your business purpose?
Our purpose is to help (all) good businesses become better brands.
How do you instill this purpose through the business, internally and externally?
Internally we celebrate the work we do with our clients, including the impact initiative projects we work on as a team. Our Double the Goodness grant and impact karma seed, funded through our profits, enable us to help impact organisations doing cool things in the world that ordinarily would not afford us.
It also means that all projects we work on have some positive impact over and above an awesome product or service, so everything we do has a good vibe to it.
Externally we are helping accelerate goodness in the world by giving business owners permission to be their true, good selves through their business. This means baking their positive impact into their brand so that their clients and community can be active participants in the good work.
We also provide free guidance and advice for those on the journey through our content.
Additionally we are heavily involved in the conscious business movement, with Luke leading the GoodNorth community. GoodNorth is both the B Local for Northern NSW and Queensland, as well as an inclusive business for good community.
Why should businesses be a force for good?
Because it feels good! But not only that, because it helps our teams live to their fullest potential, unlocking their creative and discretionary energy at work. Human potential is an amazing thing to unlock!
When we use business as a force for good it inspires our clients and communities to do greater things, by modeling positive impact for them. Many are yet to be exposed to the possibility. Ultimately, I believe it is our responsibility as co-inhabitants of this planet to care for each other and the environment.
BCorp and Conscious Capitalism both stand for a shift from shareholder capitalism to stakeholder capitalism. Tell us how this inspires and shapes your business.
Since embarking on the journey of discovery we have learned a great deal. Initially Luke was quite polarised and saw businesses as either good or bad, light or dark, no in between. It took exposure to the B Corp community, those who were already well on the journey to help him realise that there is a light to dark spectrum. And that our role is not just to help the businesses doing good to be even better, but often it is to plant the purpose seed for those who are at the very start of their journey.
What are you working on or most proud of?
We choose to work exclusively with businesses that are either purpose led or purpose curious. Every new client conversation we have centres around what they are passionate about changing in the world. It is the aha moment for each and every one of them when they realise they can be their good human self through their business that we love and are most proud of. It is this realising of potential to do good in the world that we strive for and are most proud of, regardless of the size of the business.
Is there a business that has been your role model? What has been your inspiration?
There are so many incredible businesses in the B Corp community. To name only a few feels as though to leave others out. There are pioneers who have fearlessly led the way such as Patagonia, who continually seek to be better. There are others who have taken on industries to carve a new path like Intrepid, Who Gives A Crap, and Outland Denim. And others who are shaking up ways of working like Greyston Bakery with their open hiring policy.
There are simply too many to identify just one and we are continuously inspired by those we discover.
What was the journey to BCorp certification like? Any words of advice?
Certification is by no means an easy path. It requires an in depth look at the way you operate your business. It is challenging, but well worth doing. For us it was about formalising good practices and policies to ensure we work ethically and sustainably.
We recommend every business take the B Impact Assessment, regardless of intention to certify. It will open your eyes to the true scope of running a purposeful business.
What would you say to other businesses who want to become a BCorp?
Do it. You won’t regret it. And once you do, immerse yourself immediately in your local B Corp Community. Reach out to the B Locals in your area. There is an incredible community of awesome people for you to connect with, collaborate with and be inspired by.
What is your future focus as a BCorp? What goals have you set for your business for the coming short term and long term? And how are you planning to get there?
We have just completed recertification. Part of our impact is to help inspire others to become a business for good, regardless of B Corp certification. This means doubling down on our work through GoodNorth, and educating the market place about what it means to be a purpose led business.
The theme for BCorp month is “Better Together for a Better World”. What do you see as the opportunity for businesses to “build back better” in a post-COVID world? And what collaborations could help achieve it?
Together we can do far more than we can alone. There are so many great minds and big hearts in the purpose led community. Yes, Covid has shaken things up, and the world is very different now. Businesses are learning that nothing is certain but uncertainty. And now is the time to up-skill our pivotability. This month there are a multitude of events that will help people with that.
What are your hopes for the future of business? What is your call to action to other businesses?
We dream of a world where every business has a positive impact as well as creating a healthy livelihood for all stakeholders. Awesome product or service is no longer enough, your audience wants you to care. Be the good human that you are through your business.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Reach out if you want to talk purpose. And get along to one of our GoodNorth events this month, wherever you are!