Last week in Fearlessly Frank’s Brexit series, we discussed the Brexit bus.
The Leave campaign wrote a message on the side of a decommissioned Routemaster. The message promised to give £350 million per week that was spent on EU membership back to the NHS.
That figure was inaccurate, but at least it promised something. It promised to Create Change. So people remembered it.
Politicians are often described as slick salespeople who deliver lots of recycled spiels, but never act on them.
That’s why the message was so powerful.
Any private company worth its salt knows they can’t hoodwink their customers. If a brand makes an empty promise, the customers will be wise to it the second they try the product. They will stop buying the product, and stop trusting the brand that sells it.
This is what happened to Westminster. Many saw Brexit as a chance to protest against complacent politicians who over-promise and under-deliver. A chance to put them out of business.
The trouble is, the £350m figure was also a promise. Now we are about to find out if the Leave campaign’s product is any good.
Creating lasting change is hard.
A company isn’t competing to win a vote. It has to stay credible for as long as it wants to stay profitable.
If FF’s task was to deliver Brexit, how would we ensure that we were offering our client more than empty words?
How would we take that “£350 million” claim and turn it into a credible proposition?
Imagine that, during our Dream Big phase, we decided that our “perfect Brexit” scenario would be based on the NHS, just like the Brexit bus. We would need a clear vision — for example, “Turn Britain’s National Health Service into the strongest, most forward-thinking healthcare service in the world.”
Then we would translate it into action.
Maybe we would suggest the government provides an enormous £4.2 billion high-tech hospital in the UK. This state of the art facility would be directly funded by EU savings, and the messaging would say as much.
We would then communicate our vision to our target market — in this scenario, that might mean the people who voted to Leave on the basis of the NHS, and the people who wanted to Remain but who consider the NHS a top priority.
This is action. It turns a promise into something credible.
But even this isn’t enough.
If we want our audience to believe in our vision of a modern NHS, we need to move the whole industry forward. We need to turn plausible into undeniable.
The NHS could become the first service that delivers diagnoses, treatment guidelines and remote appointments via apps.
That uses FitBits and algorithms to detect potential illness without GP appointments.
That allows doctors around the world to work remotely, so those inside the EU can still contribute.
That crowdsources diagnostic expertise from the world’s top universities.
That uses tech to manage nurses’ shifts for maximum efficiency — an Uber for relief staff.
That perfects surgical robotics.
The funding for this would come directly from the 4.2 billion annual figure (or whatever the real figure is.)
We would develop a new identity to symbolise this shift. Then we would develop messaging to back it up. Which might be something like:
Healthcare is going into the next century.
And thanks to our new open-heart nano-bots, so are you.
This is how you Create Change.
Only by defining a vision and turning it into credible output can an organisation succeed.
Whether that’s a company disrupting the market, or a country redefining its future, change doesn’t come from sitting still.
Change comes from saying what you’re going to do, then being the first to do it.
And a company that tries to create change without taking these steps first?
Three words: dead on arrival.