Antti Tapani: From Purpose to Zipper

How building a channel-agnostic creative platform with purpose at its core, secured our brand against the worst twists and turns of the pandemic, perhaps even made it thrive throughout it.

Turning the clock back to early 2018, when we first got briefed on creating a stand-alone clothing brand for SOK and Antti Tuisku, exclusively available in Prisma, we took on the assignment with a hint of childlike excitement. The ingredients for something outstanding were clearly in place, but besides that the possibilities were wide open. Where do you start with such a massive undertaking?

Oblivious to the fact that we were a year away from launching the brand into one of most uncertain and turbulent times, we began the project like we always do when starting something from scratch, not by asking how or what, but why. Why should anyone care? Why would this apparel brand be different?

What’s the purpose in all this?

The word “purpose” might feel like an empty buzzword. It has been hijacked or misused in many cases that have very little to do with actual purpose, simply for the sake of making things seem more important than they actually are. The fact is that purpose is more important than ever. It’s mandatory. No real conversation can be had without it, and brands that fall short in this regard have no way of leveling with their audience. Hint: Making a lot of money is not an inspiring purpose. Succeeding in effectful conversations without a sympathetic reason to exist, is slim to none.

The fact is that purpose is more important than ever. It’s mandatory.

AT would no doubt be a very conversational brand in social media due to Antti’s presence there, and Prisma’s target audience is massive and diverse in both age and location. We needed the brand to offer a simple, positive message that any human being could easily relate to and mirror themselves in. The search for a greater meaning resulted in the creative platform Great Was Never Normal.

The idea rooted directly in Antti’s past as an artist. I’ve covered the meaning behind this line extensively before, so I’ll make it short. We humans have a build in fear of being different, of standing out from the crowd or to be labelled “weird” when in fact that should be one of our key assets in life. I challenge you. Has anyone ever changed anything by being normal?

With AT we wanted to celebrate our differences and say “Go ahead, be as weird as you are. Only then can you truly grow”. This thought aligned with Antti as a person, with Prisma as a democratising brand and with our large target audience. Let me elaborate on how powerful a tool this simple idea became in a time when everything around us was shifting and got really weird.

All those channels

A question often brought up today is what channels to be in and where to take conversation. The possibilities, number of channels, and touch-points have grown year-by-year. Budgets have not. I think the question is wrong. The question should be “what is your platform?”. It’s obviously not a new idea and the approach has many names, but the reason remains the same.

Building a channel-agnostic “umbrella” concept will be one of your strongest assets in a multichannel world. Now more than ever. A good platform works everywhere, because it isn’t defined by a media plan. It is built on your core brand DNA and universal truths about your brand’s place in this world.

When our original marketing and media plan suddenly bent and broke in pieces, our platform was practically unaffected. Where we met our audience and where we had our conversations shifted and was easily fine-tuned to the changing situation. The conversation we had remained exactly the same.

Great Was Never Normal offered an authentic and empowering point of view and I believe it even became a positive boost for many young people in the middle of such an uncertain and scary time. Financial success aside, today we are most proud about the message AT managed to deliver to people struggling with their identity and self-worth in the middle of a crisis.

The real question

Your platform will reflect your ambition as a brand and your place in this world. It will be the glue that ties all your activities together internally and externally, from brand manifest, to visual identity, to marketing. If you are struggling with the channel question, I recommend taking one step back and ask the real question: Why?

Martin Mohr works as Head of Innovation and Experience Design at BOND and is co-founder of Marketing agency KIDS.

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