When we’re all asked what we do, the answer usually trips off our tongue. But when asked why we do what we do, we’re often lost for words.
Discovering why a company does what it does is usually hard. In Artichoke’s case it has taken several years to find our ‘why’. In retrospect it had always manifested itself subconsciously in our daily behaviours, but we’d never attempted to proactively find it or explain it. It took six months of corporate therapy, a company-wide meeting, three arguments and several packs of Post It notes to look deep within Artichoke’s soul.
More marketing literate companies are often founded on their ‘why’. Starbucks sells coffee. This is ‘what’ it does. However, the reason it was really founded was to offer a ‘third space’ between work and home. The provision of a welcoming and comfortable high street location for people to meet or email from is why it does what it does, and that’s what’s made it a success. The coffee and cake is simply a by-product.
Other companies are founded to solve a problem, only to stumble on their ‘why’ later on in life. In 1901, William S Harley designed a compact motor designed to power a push bike, and if you ask the Marketing Director at Harley Davidson today ‘what’ they do, he’ll tell you they design and sell motorbikes. If you ask him ‘why’ Harley does it however, he’ll tell you they exist to give middle aged accountants the power to ride through small towns scaring people. This is what makes their company different. If you’re a middle aged biker, and you want to revive some of the lost front you once had in your youth, there is really only one motorbike for you.
In much the same way, Artichoke designs and makes kitchens and fitted furniture. This is ‘what’ we do. While there are lots of companies describing themselves as doing this very same thing, none of them do it for the reasons we do.
To help crystalise our ‘why’, we first decided to create a brand manifesto, a living document distilling our company’s beliefs.
Artichoke’s Brand Manifesto
We are craftspeople.
We will only work with other companies and clients who share our values.
We are unrelenting in the pursuit of quality.
We regard working in our client’s houses as a privilege.
We will always act with honesty and integrity.
We believe what we design enhances people’s lives.
We have a responsibility to ‘get it right’ for our clients.
We are always learning.
We are obsessed with detail.
We refuse to take short cuts.
We will always nurture traditional skills and embrace innovation.
Our ambition is to be a centre of excellence of design and craftsmanship.
We are guardians of our craft.
We will pass this expertise to future generations.
Our work is an expression of who we are.
We believe true quality cannot be achieved without love.
We love what we do.
Distilling our beliefs in this way was incredibly helpful, triggering one of the teams observations that our beliefs were closely aligned with those of John Ruskin, the Victorian philanthropist and supporter of the arts:
“When we build, let us think that we build forever. Let it not be for present delight nor for present use alone. Let it be such work as our descendants will thank us for; and let us think, as we lay stone on stone, that a time is to come when those stones will be held sacred because our hands have touched them, and that men will say, as they look upon the labour and wrought substance of them, ‘See! This our fathers did for us.”
At Artichoke, we have the innate desire to ensure our work is not temporary, but instead forms an intrinsic part of a building’s architectural heritage for centuries to come. This belief runs through our company like words through a stick of rock, and it affects the way everyone in the company behaves, the materials we specify, the joints we deploy, the designs we create and the care we take.
So, why does Artichoke exist? The reason we are here is to create Britain’s future heritage. We are here to make history.