If you’ve ever wanted to learn what it takes to create a one-of-a-kind brand or an Idea Worth Rallying Around™, we’d highly recommend sitting down for a conversation with Sunny Bonnell, Chief Visionary & Co-Founder of Motto.
Motto is a women-owned business and brand strategy firm that works directly with leaders of high-growth, category-defining companies to differentiate and drive impact through the lens of culture and brand.
“You come to Motto when you need to matter in the market,” said Sunny. “You're looking for substance. You're looking for a story to tell. You're looking for what we call the ‘Idea Worth Rallying Around™’—the signature idea that sits at the heart of your brand that makes you famous. The idea that can rally your people, inspire your audience, get people’s hearts racing a little bit faster, so they want to be part of your conversation.”
All this is achieved with Motto’s signature ‘inside-out’ branding approach. Working with Motto arms a company with a crisp articulation of their brand strategy and message—and for select clients—a fully formed visual identity to bring it to life.
They’ve helped iconic brands like Google, Microsoft, Virgin Voyages, and challenger brands like Andela, ServiceTitan, Brooklyn Brewery, and esports legends Ninjas in Pyjamas.
“We shepherded Ninjas in Pyjamas through what was called ‘one of the greatest rebrands in esports history.’ Now their players are in Samsung commercials and they've seen huge growth on the global stage. It’s a pretty exciting feather in our cap.”
Take a look at their 🔥 2021 design reel:
Much of Motto’s work is motivated by their Rare Breed philosophy, which Sunny and Motto co-founder Ashleigh Hansberger turned into a best-selling book, Rare Breed: A Guide to Success for the Defiant, Dangerous, and Different.
The book’s message: to be successful in business, lean into the things that make you and your organization different or unconventional—don’t avoid them.
“The traits we talk about in the book—like being rebellious, audacious, obsessed, emotional—are traditionally seen as counterintuitive to success. But they are actually keys to innovation, relevancy, and differentiation. By adopting these traits, you’ll bring the Rare Breed spirit into the DNA of your company culture. Imagine your best and brightest set loose to limber up their creative muscles, come up with game-changing ideas, and execute with more courage.”
Sunny and Ashleigh are Rare Breeds themselves. When they started their business in 2005 with just $250, they were told they were “too young, too female, and too rebellious” to succeed at running a branding company.
That was seventeen years ago.
They’ve now earned a truckload of accolades including Inc 30 under 30 America’s Hottest Young Entrepreneurs, GDUSA’s People to Watch, Best Branding Agency of the Year, and were the youngest women to ever win the Make Mine a Million $ Business Award.
“We wrote Rare Breed because, throughout our career, we’ve witnessed an alarming lack of acceptance for unique ideas and people who don’t fit the mold. All the things that can make companies and brands special and different are usually the things they dial down in order to play it safe. That just doesn’t work in business today.”
“Rare Breed is the opposite of status quo. The world needs more companies who think, act, and behave like a Rare Breed. This is what drives innovation.”
Sunny says it’s Butter’s Rare Breed-ness that initially drew Motto to the platform.
“Butter is one of those brands that from first glance, you can sense that this is a Rare Breed company. You've got Rare Breed thinkers, you have Rare Breed talent, and you have a Rare Breed brand position.”
Butter is a beacon for unconventional thinkers. You're attracting companies that want to flip the script on virtual collaboration and move the world of work forward in a very interesting way.
Challenge: Facilitating workshops that matter 🧠
At Motto, strategy is the beginning of every client relationship, so they spend much of their time running strategy workshops and planning sessions with anywhere from 5 to 30 people.
“Companies that seek Motto out are looking for a shot in the arm,” said Sunny. “Clients come to us seeking a pathway to long-term business growth. Our ability to clarify and build on vision, push boundaries, challenge norms, and flip the script on traditional ways of thinking helps them focus on what’s important so they can get there.”
“Our gift is taking people from the fuzziest thing to the clearest thing. If every leg on a centipede’s body sprinted in a different direction, the poor thing would experience quite an ordeal. That’s what it feels like when you have a lack of strategic clarity and direction.”
Facilitated workshops allow Motto to bring their clients together to unite around a clear brand definition and vision of the future—but this unity is dependent on getting (and keeping) teams engaged in the process.
“Maybe there’s been a change in leadership, or a new launch is on the horizon, or perhaps a rebrand is in order to prepare for IPO or a merger. Maybe the brand no longer serves the company, or there is internal and external confusion that leads to a weakened overall state. For many clients, different perspectives on purpose and vision lead to confusion and opposing priorities.”
“Whatever the case may be, there is always a lot to figure out,” says Sunny.
“Allowing constructive debate, provoking discussions, and gathering insights from key stakeholders is crucial in our strategy workshops. Sessions can be several hours long, so keeping everyone enthusiastic, engaged, and not zoning out is a priority.”
Achieving this in a remote setting can be a challenge, but it’s not new to Motto.
“When we started in 2005, we quickly superseded the boundaries of our town and attracted clients both nationally and internationally. So we acclimated a long time ago to working virtually. But the tools at that time were not very effective for business meetings.”
“Over the last several years, we've seen tools like Zoom come into full bloom as the work world went virtual. But nobody has been reinventing or building on the experiences of video technology.”
“To see Butter come about and change the interfaces and the way that we communicate with one another and the way that we experience sound and music and screens and whiteboarding—and being able to do these fun interactive sessions with clients participating from all corners of the world — from Sweden to Singapore, Lisbon to London, New York to Austin—is really cool.”
Solution: Enter Butter 🙌
“I really firmly believe in being an early adopter of many things. That's what Rare Breeds do. We love to throw brass knuckles to the status quo. We love to shake things up.”
“So I immediately got FOMO when I saw Butter circulating on LinkedIn. We knew we had to try the platform to see what all the excitement is about.”
Here’s what stood out about Butter to the Motto team.
Remarkably easy onboarding
Motto started by using Butter for 50% of their workshops, before eventually migrating almost 100% to Butter.
“We had to consider things like onboarding, adaptability, flexibility, and whether or not we needed a new tool in the arsenal. We also wondered if our client base would balk at learning an entirely new platform when they’re used to Zoom, Teams, or Hangouts.”
But the transition to Butter was surprisingly smooth.
“As the name Butter suggests, people just slid right in and started having fun. We had people using the sound effects, emoji reactions, and GIFs—like they had been using it for years. So that's a testament to the flexibility of the interface.”
Fun leads to alignment
“Butter is just fun!” said Sunny. “From the first time people sign on, the Butter experience is unique. Team Motto always has music playing when people come in. Immediately there is a different energy and excitement to what we're doing.”
“You have to make work fun. If work is not fun, then it’s so much harder. Why would you want to surround yourself with tools and technology that are only making your job that much harder?”
This element of fun isn’t a frivolous bonus for their team—it’s key to driving results.
“We’re using Butter to help organizations align at the leadership level. You know—to get their mind around the future and what it takes to get there. Butter supports what we're trying to help build. Tools like this really allow you the ability to see faces in a virtual world, make progress, whiteboard, and have fun.”
“It takes us out of boring sorts of interactions and takes it to the next level and says, ‘if we removed all these barriers and all this friction, what could we create?’”
“Being able to use the soundboard and the reactions gets everyone relaxed and even promotes creativity. When people feel comfortable, they want to participate.”
“The overarching experience fosters engagement and helps us celebrate the wins together.”
It might not surprise you that, as a brand strategy firm, Motto’s favorite Butter feature is the Miro integration.
“The Miro integration is so smooth! Being able to share the workshop Miro board and have people interact immediately and without barriers is critical to getting everyone in a collaborative mindset.”
“There's no ‘where's the link?’, ‘I can't click on that’, or ‘I can't access that.’ Reducing those barriers to entry gives everyone more time for actual collaboration.”
Here's a peek at a recent strategy workshop Motto ran for Andela using Miro and Butter (turn your sound on if you're in the mood to dance 💃🕺🏽).
Results: Camaraderie and creativity 💛
For Sunny, a successful workshop means Motto helped their client have a lot of a-ha moments, work through critical issues, and achieve strategic alignment around big brand questions.
“You didn't just talk in circles. You had an outcome that everyone—even if they disagreed with it—committed to. It’s that old adage: disagree and commit.”
But how the workshop feels along the way is just as important.
“One of the goals is to build camaraderie and to build a sense of belonging. I think it's important that people feel like they're working shoulder to shoulder with you, that you're part of the same team, and that you're fighting for the same cause.”
“So one important outcome is what they feel about it. It doesn't always mean that we solved everything on the checklist. It just means that at the end of it, people felt like their time there was well spent together.”
For Motto, Butter helped them achieve that goal by tearing down some of the usual technology barriers.
“You want the platform to support you, not get in the way of that. You want it to aid you, not hinder you.
“We led Virgin Voyages’ leadership team through a series of facilitated workshops and breakthrough sessions on Butter to explore the inner workings of their internal brand.”
“It was incredibly challenging work. It was leadership work, it was culture work, it was purpose/vision/values, voicing all the perspectives and getting them out in the open, breaking down barriers, defining goals and dreams, thinking about the potential solves.”
“On other platforms, the room might go dark, depending on the kind of temperament and psychological safety of the team.”
“What we found was that the energy in the Butter room—when working through similar exercises that we had done on previous platforms—didn’t dip down. Even if there was an awkward silence, we played it up with the crickets sound effect, which made everyone laugh, relax their shoulders, and open back up.”
“We incorporated branded playlists, sound effects, whiteboards, emojis, and more to drive up the experience while arriving at strategic outputs—without Zoom fatigue.”
“So that was kind of an a-ha moment for us. It was fun, it was interactive, and we could utilize tools within it without having to open up different screens. And everybody felt pretty native to it.”
“It's helped our productivity go through the roof because we're able to get more done. We're less time on planes and trains and automobiles and more time, just working and collaborating and being creative in real-time.”
Sunny’s top Butter tip 💡
Sunny’s advice for new Butter users: don’t treat Butter as any old video conferencing tool.
“For newbies running workshops, make sure to play with all the features... This isn't your grandma's video conferencing tool. You have polls, you can make a playlist, you can spark conversation with flashcards, you can bring a different ENERGY to your sessions.”
And help your participants get to know all the features too. “We love linking newbies to the How to Butter: Participant’s Guide.”
Motto is always up to lots of exciting stuff, so you can follow them on
You could be the next Butter success story
If Motto has inspired you to embrace your inner Rare Breed and host workshops that are more inspiring, engaging, and productive, try Butter for free.