Naming Your Purpose Umbrella

In 1963, Nintendo Playing Card Co. Ltd. changed its name to Nintendo Co., Ltd., matching a realization that the products, services, and programs they could be offering didn’t fit under the limited umbrella of playing cards. They knew their purpose was no longer equal to offering playing cards, so they named a new umbrella that let them do more without trying to do everything.

Today, Nintendo articulates its mission as “to put smiles on the faces of everyone we touch…by creating new surprises for people across the world to enjoy together.” This mission allows Nintendo to name and solve for a diverse-yet-focused set of audience problems, like the problem of how to secure casual entertainment; or the problem of how to have flexibility of location for playing video games. It also allows the company not to be equal to one product. Nintendo remains long after the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was retired, for example. It even allows people to imagine a time when creating new surprises may not involve video games at all, much less playing cards.

So how about your umbrella? How do you get to a point where you have a sense of it now and reduce the likelihood of having to restate it in the future? Or, how do you go about naming your purpose ‘just right’ for a for-profit company, nonprofit corporation, or edutainment effort?

A Wonderful, Unwritten Purpose. Edutainment couple Jamie and Skylar, collectively known as Explorcation, provide clues to intuitively knowing purpose. They’re not too narrow in their purpose; their videos of beaches, marshes, and breweries all clearly fit their brand. It’s also clear they’re not too broad in their focus because keyword searches for certain geographies, as well as a review of their video catalogue, show they have an admirable fence set around their potential topics. Their intuitive approach allows them to have an unwritten purpose (at least it’s unwritten on their channels) while still (a) creating content that solves the questions their audiences have; and (b) not being limited to what would be too narrow for their interests and future concepts.

If intuitive isn’t where you want to stop, one way to name a purpose umbrella is to remember why you want to offer products, services, and/or programs. For example, say you make the best jalapeño jam and realize you want to create a company to sell the jam. Three different possibilities for why are:

  • If your why equals your product of jalapeño jam, you may create a jalapeño jam company. Your umbrella becomes equal to one product. You may desire that tightness of purpose. Remember, though, this tightness should be strategic and match the future you predict.
  • If you prefer a somewhat-broader sense of why, perhaps to give people the best mornings by ensuring the best jams, you may start a jam company, with the first offering being jalapeño jam for breakfast toast. Your umbrella is then “the best mornings by ensuring the best jams.” Again, this may be perfect for you, and you could stop here.
  • Broadest yet, you realize your why is to give people control over adding the best flavors to any meal. With such a concept, you form a group focused on condiments, with the lead offering being jalapeño jam fit for any food. This broader, but not too-broad umbrella, allows for any number of products, services, and/or programs — and even a day when you might not make jam at all. This level comes with a lot of freedom for the future, and if you like or desire that freedom, it may be a good fit.

Read about my love for content writing here.

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