Brand Story Breakdown: The House of Beautiful Business
Learn how a challenger brand wrote a manifesto to activate its community.
When you arrive at The House of Beautiful Business website, you desperately want to be let in.
But you’ll hesitate. “Am I cool enough? Smart enough?”
The House of Beautiful Business is a global platform, thinktank and community for business leaders, entrepreneurs, creatives, artists, technologists, policy makers and activists. It’s intimidatingly polished and hip, without putting style above substance.
The carefully curated brand experience cultivates your desire to be part of it. Every element of the brand is thoughtfully curated around the ‘house’ and ‘beauty’ themes, with a strong sense of the community inside. There are ‘Resident Circles’ (a weekly online forum), ‘House Meetups’ (local in-person events), ‘Beauty Shots’ (blog posts), and ‘House Sounds’ (recorded concerts and audio journeys).
But it’s the brand story that captures the full brand ambition of The House of Beautiful Business.
There’s no obvious ‘About Us’ webpage, but a small ‘Our Mission’ link tucked away at the bottom of the website. Why here? Because there’s no great need to put it front and centre, when every other web page tells the story of who and what the House is. The visitor innately senses the ethos of the House of Beautiful Business through imagery, font, words, service names and testimonials.
For those who want the full rationale as to why the House of Beautiful Business exists (yes, please!), it’s laid out in perfect formation in the business backstory.
Deconstructing The House of Beautiful Business Backstory
The House of Beautiful Business. The name itself hints at the radical ideas you’re about to encounter.
Can business really be beautiful? Hard, tough, uncompromising, exhausting – yes. But beautiful? Already – we’re prepped to expect the unexpected.
Business-as-usual is dead. The opening line immediately prepares us for what will follow.
This is not just a story. It’s a manifesto.
A manifesto is a unique kind of storytelling. It’s punchy, direct and active. It takes aim at the current ‘status quo’ and challenges us to question everything we thought we knew to be true. It sets out a new way forward for the future. – Michelle Newell, The Storytelling Business
A Manifesto for Beautiful Business
The House of Beautiful Business manifesto comes in different parts. Three of those are epically engaging:
Part 1: Business as Usual is Dead – Setting the scene for battle with the enemy
Part 2: So what exactly is Beautiful Business? – Evoking the power of the business vision
Part 3: The tenets of the House – A call to action
There are two other storytelling techniques at play here that I want to draw your attention to. The first is what is said. And the second is how it’s said (and presented).
Part 1: Setting the scene for battle with the enemy
In this section, the House of Beautiful Business sets the stage for why there’s an urgent need for a new way to do business – and a new type of community to lead us forward.
Let’s return to the opening line: Business-as-usual is dead.
Usually, you’d see it written as business as usual or BAU. It reflects the standard operating state of a business. But add those hyphens and now it’s transformed into a singular entity to be fought against: ‘business-as-usual’.
Here, you’ll be confronted with the stark ‘truths’ about the negative traits of the old world, the instability of business today, and the need for a radical future designed by the House of Beautiful Business.
Part 2: Evoking the power of the business vision
In exploring the nature of ‘beautiful business’, the House proclaims a new way forward for business. This section positions it as an experimental maverick, at the vanguard of positive change.
Notice the way the manifesto draws battle lines: us vs. them, new vs. old.
Part 3: A call to action
Finally, in this section of the manifesto, we are called to action! The language here is not pushy or shouty, as manifestos can be. Instead, it’s deliberately soft to evoke the ‘beautiful’ undercurrent of this new vision for future business.
There are some very clever lines in here: It take a village, it starts with a House is a play on the old proverb that ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ – commonly shortened by pop culture to ‘it takes a village’ to mean that a community must rally together to effect change. Here, it’s the people in the House who will first be the catalyst for change.
Beauty is something that may or may not exist. You decide empowers people within the House to speak their own minds and keep their individuality and voice in the House.
Get lost without losing suggests that all risks here are safe risks. The community is your safety net.
Whatever happens in the House should not stay in the House inverts an old trope (cliché) in order to convey the generosity of the community and their imperative to share what they discover.
A final word on Manifestos
Manifestos herald a new era. They critique the status quo while voicing an alternative.
Manifestos won’t suit all businesses, but for a challenger brand like The House of Beautiful Business, it strikes just the right note.