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Mark Bonchek

What Salesforce teaches us about building a brand orbit

Leadership masterclass: Building customer relationships around shared purpose

Mark Bonchek

What's a brand orbit?

Innovation expert Mark Bonchek throws up Salesforce as a brand orbit example.

At Salesforce you're not just a customer. You’re a trailblazer.

From the company website:

·       Trailblazers are the pioneers, innovators, and lifelong learners who will help to make the world a better place, by propelling the future of technology, and give back to their communities. These are the people that are innovating with Salesforce, using our platform to transform their company.

Innovating WITH your customers

Around a shared purpose, Salesforce and customers innovate WITH each other, says Bonchek, CEO and founder of Shift Thinking. 

It’s “Who will you be by having a relationship with us?” he explains.

He told leaders at The Growth Faculty masterclass they needed to shift their thinking from:

·       STORY -“Why should I buy something from you?”, “What will I get if I do?”

·       to NARRATIVE - “Why should I have a relationship with you?” “Who will I be if I do?”

Building your brand orbit is creating an ongoing relationship beyond any individual transaction.

Unlearning your mental model

This may require UNLEARNING your mental model for customer-centricity:

·       OLD THINKING - How do I get the customer to do what I want them to do?

·       NEW THINKING - How do I get my company to do what the customer wants it to do?

Here's the way it's going......(left column is current way, right is future way)


Take the t-shirt test

To ensure you are co-creating and sharing your purpose with your customer, here’s a test:

·       If you put your mission on a t-shirt, does the customer get to wear the shirt too?


·       GOOGLE - Organise the world’s information - the customer is part of this mission and gets to wear the shirt.

·       SEPHORA beauty retailer – Be fearless - the customer is part of this mission (by showcasing their artistry) and gets to wear the shirt.

Your brand orbit must be a relationship around a shared purpose. Behind it is a whole set of experiences (like Sephora’s community of beauty artists sharing their tutorials).

Brand orbit building blocks:

·       Shared purpose

·       Shared identity (eg. I’m a “Salesforce Trailblazer”)

·       Social currency (What has currency in your community? Reviews? Data?)

You must offer intrinsic value so the customer sees value whether or not they buy the product. They may, for example, benefit from education, experiences, self-expression, data and insights.

Gratitude is where you want to get to

One uniform supply company that does this well makes medical scrubs for nurses. Realising nurses often felt under-appreciated – it launched Scrubs magazine, and an app called CODE HAPPY – where nurses help nurses.

Appreciation, recognition, and support for nurses creates not just loyalty, but gratitude. THAT’S WHERE YOU WANT TO GET TO. The values are aligned. You’re all achieving a shared purpose together. Like a pot luck dinner, says Mark Bonchek, we all bring a dish to the table.

A good place to start

·       If the customer had access to your data, what would they like to know?

·       People love to know how they’re doing relative to others. Can you offer data that helps then answer ‘How do I think relative to other people?’

·       What could be your shared identity? ‘I’m an artist’ ‘I’m a WAZER’ ‘I’m a catalyst’ (the Shift Thinking shared identity), ‘I’m a member of …….something.’

·       Involve consumers EARLY and often – not just on feedback that you already know. What you want to do is to be HUMBLE – not have the answers already written. You may ask: What if they say something that we are not prepared for? But that’s the point! You need to decide: how willing are you to hear what your customer is going to say? 

·       Ask yourself, are you scared of your customer? 


A brand orbit is putting a shared purpose smack bang in the middle of your "solar system". Customers, employees, partners and influencers are the planets and moons that are orbiting around this purpose.

More information can be found on Mark Bonchek's Shift Thinking website and keep your eyes out for his next masterclass with The Growth Faculty.

If you'd like to increase your professional development why not consider becoming a member of The Growth Faculty? One membership, unlimited access to 30 live virtual Time For Transformation masterclasses and the best live virtual events - PLUS year-round leadership content On Demand with videos, podcasts and book summaries. Join a community of knowledge seekers who are inspired by the best. Access $4350+ value for just $398 AUD. See who's up next.


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