April 12, 2018 / STOP ASKING WHY, START ASKING HOW
April 12, 2018
Building a brand that stands for something is challenging; it takes time and most importantly, authenticity.
We recently sat with Darcy Horn Davenport, President of Premier Nutrition Corporation (PNC), and asked her a few questions about what it was like to work with Bulldog Drummond, go through our brand positioning process, leadership summit and the creation of the new brand identity to bring PNC’s spirit to life.
Operating in the fast growing health & wellness category with a family of brands including PowerBar®, Premier Protein®, Supreme Protein® and Joint Juice®, PNC is a business with an incredibly strong foundation and a bright future. To guide their growth and ensure the company stayed on the right course, the leadership team sought to define a larger reason for being—a unifying purpose encompassing all of the PNC brands and values the team strives to bring to life each day.
Tell us about the challenges your business was having when you came to Bulldog:
PNC is a high-growth company made up of four brands, which were acquired over time. Well-known brands with amazing cultures are often defined by the founder, or unearthed from a problem the company solved. Starbucks and Apple are great examples of this. PNC already had a solid foundation, good culture and a successful business, but was missing a universal higher purpose that unified the brands and the culture, and provided a North Star to guide employees. The goal was to create a higher calling to not only strategically steer the PNC leadership team, but also motivate every employee in the company.
What did you find most interesting about the work you did with us?
What I found to be most impactful was utilizing an employee-driven process. This led to an end product that was truly developed by the entire company, creating buy-in and engagement from everyone across all levels. For example, PNC’s existing values were used as a starting point with Bulldog. As PNC began collaborating with the broader organization, this “common language” allowed the team to hit the ground running on the meatier, more meaningful work – laddering these building blocks up to create a higher, more universal purpose. Had we not started from a common place, and simply created a purpose in an ivory tower, the level of enthusiasm, engagement, and ultimately, authenticity would have been erased. Each employee had a fingerprint on PNC’s pulse and was actively contributing to keeping it strong.
What did implementation for the new brand look like?
While the entire team was in Hawaii for an earned incentive trip, Bulldog hosted a workshop where the PNC leadership team gathered employee feedback and created a combined embodiment of everyone’s thoughts. It immediately became evident that PNC employees were dedicated to the concept of good energy. Being the “Good Energy People” is not just a brand value, rather it is PNC’s living and breathing company purpose. When I presented this mission to everyone in the company, it was greeted with unbelievable excitement, enthusiasm, and support – verified by an exceeding amount of head nods and smiles!
Following the official unveiling to the company, ‘The Year of Good Energy’ was brought to life across every touchpoint – from professional development, to the food in the kitchen, to the physical work space. For example, the entire PNC office received a dramatic makeover where an artist designed areas with employee photography and consumer quotes that embodies the brand’s values and positive energy. As you walk through the PNC hallways you’ll find inspiring thoughts at every turn.
How is Premier Nutrition Corporation different as a result of our work together?
After working with Bulldog, PNC launched The Year of Good Energy, which includes specific programs that support our purpose of ‘Bringing Good Energy to the World’. The Good Energy Give Back Program is one example. Most of PNC’s employees are very passionate about philanthropy and I wanted to foster a company culture that gives back to the communities where they work and play.
PNC holds regular give back days in which employees donate a half-day to give back to a local Bay Area charity or cause together, as a company. This summer, the entire PNC team went to Emerson Elementary School in Oakland to revamp the school’s outdoor space. In addition, PNC has a Volunteer Grants Program that provides a monetary incentive for PNC employees to volunteer and an annual PNC company donation made to a charity of choice voted on by all PNC employees.
To further strengthen our cultural tenets and inspire employees, Bulldog helped us develop the PNC Builder Workshop Series. Each quarter, a thought leader is invited to the PNC office to lead a presentation and immersive session on an aspect of leadership and building a business or a brand. Neil Grimmer, Co-Founder of Plum Organics, talked about how he has been a “builder” in his successful career. And, Lucy Postins from The Honest Kitchen recently shared her experiences as an “accidental entrepreneur” and her relentless pursuit of positive pet nutrition.
The idea behind this workshop series is to learn from others, give PNC employees a break from their day-to-day work and spark insight into how one can view work differently and make an impact on the world. The workshops have been very successful and have inspired PNC employees to approach their lives differently inside and outside of the office.
PNC employees are passionate people. So we have created an environment where they feel comfortable bringing new ideas to me directly or to the leadership team. A year ago, I was approached by a handful of dog lovers about allowing dogs in the office. My gut reaction was, “Dogs at the office? No way!” However, the teams presented a compelling argument, sharing research that cited the good energy dogs can contribute to an office environment. I took a step back and reevaluated their request based on its intent and how it could embody PNC’s office culture and company values. I asked the team to present the idea to the leadership team, and after presenting a well-thought-out policy and pilot program, the leadership team signed off on a test and three months later we had a new policy. Our CFO, Paul Rode, joked that it was one of the most thorough policies ever implemented by the company. The decision to have dogs in the office has had an incredible impact on employee happiness. Today the PNC office has 15 dogs spreading good energy through the halls daily. This is a great example of how we brought the concept of good energy to life, applying it to the office space and our culture.
In our work together, Bulldog helped PNC “brand” its purpose. Before working with Bulldog, PNC was already managing an amazing portfolio of brands and products appealing to a wide range of people and operating with good energy. The company just needed to bring this guiding principle to life—and that’s where Bulldog stepped in to help. PNC was always a motivated team, but now employees are inspired around a common purpose.
What outcomes have you experienced as a result of our work together?
While PNC’s business trajectory – a rocket ship, I like to say – is incredibly fulfilling, the gains made as a company have been just as impactful, if not more. A few years ago, the PNC team created an engagement survey for Fortune’s “Best Place to Work” and did not get the recognition expected or wanted. After focusing on culture and working with Bulldog, that all changed this year when PNC received a Great Place to Work® certification, which was a major milestone. One hundred PNC employees were surveyed and the company scored in the 90th percentile across the board for Great Pride, Great Communication, Great Challenges, Great Atmosphere, Great Rewards, and Great Bosses. Needless to say, the day PNC received its Great Places to Work certification was one of my proudest days as PNC President!
Looking ahead, there is a lot on PNC’s 2018 roadmap, including a change in address! PNC has been in its current office since 2013, and due to our incredible growth, I’m thrilled to report the team has outgrown it. One of the major goals in PNC’s search for a new office is to find a space that will improve employees’ work lives. This includes a full service gym in the building, standing desks and hopefully a larger outside space for dogs and “walking meetings”. Finding the right space goes along with PNC’s good energy guiding principle discovered through our work with Bulldog.
Looking even beyond 2018, PNC employees are eager to spread good energy through a commitment to conservation and saving the planet for future generations. PNC already provides a monthly monetary incentive for employees who take public transportation or carpool to work, and the newly formed employee-led Green Team is in the midst of overhauling the current office space waste management programs. In addition, by the summer of 2018, PNC hopes to launch completely sustainable packaging for the Premier Protein® shakes – our most popular product.
What did you learn while working with Bulldog?
When Lucy Postins visited for PNC’s Builder Workshop Series, she said she’s an accidental entrepreneur. This resonated with me because I think I’m an accidental President. Over the course of three years, I find I’m still discovering and evolving my leadership style. Through PNC’s work with Bulldog, I continue to find new ways to mold PNC into the company I want to be part of and lead. After all, people spend so much time at work it should be awesome! How often do you get to create a company culture or define a company’s higher purpose? What I’ve loved most about this process is witnessing the continual impact on both the business and PNC’s great team of professionals.
As I began this journey, I wanted the work with Bulldog to be the best, most motivating experience for every employee, maximizing the good that comes out of each of us. Together with (and I include Bulldog Drummond) the PNC leadership team and every Good Energy Person on staff, I am proud to say that we have elevated the company’s culture, spirit of collaboration and passion for changing the world one shake, bar, and community project at a time—beyond my wildest dreams.