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Here's our purpose. What's yours?

By Brian Odell   

My original partner and I formed Catalyst nearly 25 years ago. Seems like just yesterday. I can remember driving up to his house that first day. It was July. Even at 8:00AM, it was already warm, clearly on its way to hot and humid. At that point, we were the only two employees. Catalyst worldwide headquarters (ha) was his basement. Not a nice finished basement, but the kind with spiders roaming in the corners, a simple washer/dryer combo set against the back wall, and no air conditioning. We sat in lawn chairs and had only one computer. I think we ate Spaghettios for lunch on day one.

The thing is though, none of that seemed to bother us. We were excited about our future and motivated to succeed. Having young families to feed was certainly part of it, but to us, it really was more than that. We had purpose.

In fact, that morning before we went down into the basement, we went into his dining room to talk about the business and what we wanted to accomplish together - to catalyze all of the conversations we had leading up to that point. We articulated our beliefs. We wrote a mission statement.

The essence was simple, and similar to the one written by Tom Cruise's character in the movie Jerry McGuire. It was about fewer clients. More attention. Impactful work. Our intention was to help change our little piece of the world. We wanted to stimulate the creation of long-term, mutually beneficial relationships – between Catalyst and its clients (the people). And between the client's business and its employees and customers. Rather than "business-to-business," we were thinking "person-to person."

This notion has served Catalyst well over the years. Naturally, we're no longer in a basement. We have air conditioning for hot July days. And we've had the opportunity to help a lot of people succeed. In fact, some of our original "basement days" clients are still with us today. We've also established some pretty great relationships with a lot of others along the way.

As we've grown and evolved, the central theme of our purpose (or mission) has remained the same, although we've made some enhancements to reflect today's B2B world.

At Catalyst, we believe brands are increasingly the only real and enduring source of competitive advantage for B2B companies. We believe brands have a responsibility to advance the lives of the people and communities they serve. We believe Catalyst is an agent capable of not only transforming business but also improving the world – one brand at a time.

Today, here's how we talk about our brand:


  • Why we exist – we build brands that transform businesses so they can better serve human conditions and needs. Our vision is a world where brands exist to serve and improve mankind (its needs, desires, experiences). Our mission is to change the world one brand at a time.
  • How we operate – we become intimately involved in the brands we serve as we inspire them to find their purpose. Then we align the brand purpose with their people, principles, processes, products and experiences. This requires a mix of audience insight, a comprehensive understanding of the marketplace, and deep knowledge (and passion) of our client's brand and aspirations. This drives the strategy that leads to the creation of big, long ideas. We go above and beyond to help brands realize their greatest value.
  • What we do – we develop branding strategies and help activate exceptional brand experiences (communications, stories, conversations, content) to make brands more meaningful to their audiences. Our work proves that experiences transform and inspire, flat communications do not. We know how to identify and transform content into an experience. And into business results.


Why is this relevant? Because today's B2B environment is more challenging than ever. Change is the only constant – and it's moving with cheetah-like velocity. The key to success for marketers is no longer just about getting attention and generating interest. Buyer attention spans are too short. With multiple brands fighting for their consideration, it's too easy for buyers to become distracted. B2B brands must not only be clearly distinguished from the competition, but also must also be intrusive so as to disrupt buyer patterns, stimulate connections, facilitate conversations and inspire action. It's about being in the right place at the right time, with the right answers. It's about being open and flexible. Knowing and following "next practices" is essential. More than anything, it's about having purpose.

Finding, or rediscovering, your brand's purpose should be at the top of your list. Catalyst has purpose. And it drives us every day. What drives you?

Brian Odell

About Author

Brian Odell

30+ year veteran of B2B branding and marketing communications. Started out as a technical copywriter. Worked in PR. Eventually moved to account service. Founded Catalyst to serve B2B marketers looking for ways to leverage their brand as the stimulus for company transformation. Lots of experience, but definitely new age when it comes to brand strategy and activation.