Championing a cleaning brand’s sustainable vision

  • Client: Superunion / Delphis Eco
  • Disciplines: Copywriting, brand storytelling
  • Duration: 3 days

I helped Superunion tell the brand story of eco-friendly cleaning company Delphis Eco.

Following a joint briefing with the creative team and the client, I conducted an in-depth interview with Delphis Eco’s passionate, self-confessedly belligerent founder Mark Jankovich.

The first section, below, captures the story’s unlikely origins in the world of cut-throat finance – where Jankovich had the epiphany that drove him to drop everything and radically change his career direction.

“I woke up one day and thought, ‘Enough’s enough.'” – Mark Jankovich

Mark’s story

It was 2007, the year before the finance sector went into meltdown.

Mark had been working on a more joined-up approach to RBS Group’s corporate social responsibility. He argued that the banking giant needed to consider its impact on the world.

But profit was king, and Mark’s holistic plan was laughed out of the room. He quit the next day, with a burning desire to make a meaningful difference in whatever way he could. His goal was simple: build a business, any business, that could have a net-positive impact. After scouring the globe for candidates, he discovered a Liverpool-based chemist making professional-standard cleaning products from eco-friendly natural ingredients.

Delphis Eco leads by example when it comes to sustainability

The business had been struggling, and had racked up significant debts. But despite having no experience in the sector, Mark saw huge potential for social and environmental impact.

Shortly after the birth of his second child, and with no salary as a safety net, he threw everything he had into the venture, adopting a one-star roadside hotel as a rudimentary base near the warehouse in Bootle while he worked to turn the business around.

The brand story is set firmly in the context of the global climate emergency

Mark was prepared to roll up his sleeves and get his hands dirty. To win one of Delphis Eco’s first major contracts, he spent seven months getting up at 4am to scrub Iceland stores, demonstrating to the supermarket why it should switch.

He also knew he had to get the products into the right hands, so cut out the middleman. Knowing the Prince of Wales to be an ardent eco-campaigner, he cold-called Clarence House and challenged the Prince’s staff to test the products. The risk paid off, ultimately leading to Delphis Eco receiving two Royal Warrants.

At the heart of Delphis Eco’s success story is Mark’s refusal to accept something is impossible, and the passion, belligerence and drive to prove it can be done.

Mark has lobbied the UK government to promote sector-wide change

The story goes on to explore how Delphis Eco has responded to the bigger-picture context of the climate emergency, and reveals the brand’s many sector-leading green innovations and related campaigns – including lobbying for meaningful change at the highest level.

Celebrating 50 years of the Virgin brand

  • Client: Virgin / Thames & Hudson
  • Disciplines: Content strategy, interviewing, copywriting, brand voice
  • Duration: 10 months

I am the author of Virgin By Design, a premium ‘coffee-table’ book celebrating 50 years of the Virgin brand.

Collaborating closely with the Virgin Group brand team and the book’s publisher Thames & Hudson, I helped develop a content strategy to appeal to brand designers, creative marketeers and ambitious entrepreneurs.

Rather than a chronological retrospective, we agreed it would be more compelling to tell the story thematically, exploring the unique characteristics that make the Virgin brand special.

Buy a copy of Virgin By Design on Amazon

The process involved over 120 interviews with CEOs, CMOs and other influential individuals responsible for shaping the past, present and future of the Virgin brand – from the early days of Virgin Records and Virgin Atlantic in the ’70s and ’80s, through to present-day innovations from the likes of Virgin Galactic and Virgin Voyages.

Drawing on hundreds of thousands of words of transcript, I crafted the many diverse stories into 10 distinct chapters. These explored areas such as Virgin’s ‘cheeky start-up’ mentality, the importance of taking risks and innovating, the ‘feel-good experiences’ and ‘magic moments’ at the heart of the brand, and how Virgin can stay relevant for the next 50 years.

With multiple senior stakeholders involved – including Virgin Group’s chief brand officer and global CEO, as well as Richard Branson himself – my copywriting brief was to capture Virgin’s brand values, while remaining engaging and entertaining for an external audience.

Nick helped us shape a cohesive narrative from multiple voices. He was quick to understand Virgin’s brand principles and history, and convey it seamlessly throughout the book. Nick’s skill in finding compelling stories translates to a joyful yet comprehensive read. He was a joy to work with.

Charlotte Bufton – brand manager and project lead, Virgin
Virgin By Design’s 10 thematic chapters. Image credit: Virgin

Fascinating archive photography, striking campaign visuals and playful commissioned illustration bring the featured stories to life.

The design, by Pete Rossi at RM&CO, encourages different levels of engagement. Readers can flick through for visual inspiration, or deep-dive into each chapter’s theme.

Content formats vary from bite-size captions to long thematic reads, bound-in as inserts amongst full-bleed images to maximise visual impact. Gatefolds expand the canvas at key points to do milestone campaigns justice.

“Nick’s deep understanding of how branding and design work within a business, and his industry knowledge and contacts, make him an invaluable member of a creative team.”

Andrew Sanigar – commissioning editor, Thames & Hudson

Virgin By Design was published by Thames & Hudson in March 2020.

Awards for Virgin By Design
Silver Award – Graphis Design Annual 2021
Highly Commended – Drum Design Awards 2020
Shortlisted – Creativepool Annual 2020

Rolling out tone of voice for a European bank

HROD logo showing four quadrants. Image credit: 31% Wool
  • Client: 31% Wool / EBRD
  • Disciplines: Copywriting, tone of voice
  • Duration: 9 days

I helped 31% Wool make EBRD’s HR department more engaging and approachable.

31% Wool’s verbal narrative for the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development’s newly formed ‘HR and Organisational Department’ (HROD) is based on four ‘quadrants’ that play on banking terminology.

All communications are framed in terms of assets, liabilities, risks and returns. HROD might describe people as its “greatest asset”, for instance, or discuss “unlocking returns” for its staff.

My brief was to translate this conceptual approach across a range of materials – from landing pages to onboarding packs – while balancing the need to be punchy and direct, but also warm and welcoming.

Read more on 31% Wool’s website…

Landing pages from HROD website. Image credit: 31% Wool

I also wrote guidelines to help HROD staff maintain this tone of voice across other day-to-day applications.

Tone of voice booklet for HROD. Image credit: 31% Wool

“Nick quickly grasped the intricacies and breadth of the client’s verbal comms, and brought to life some previously quite generic pieces with our new verbal language and a consistent tone of voice. He was happy to turn around some tight client deadlines, and I hope we’ll be working on more projects together in the future.”

Julia Woollams, creative director, 31% Wool

Sharing smart summer tips for lastminute.com

In 2006, I collaborated with lastminute.com to produce a 24-page booklet packed with 201 tips for smarter living – from maximising your airport time to summering like a celebrity.

Image credit: lastminute.com

3 million copies were distributed through various publications, including The Observer, The Sunday Times, GQ, Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire.

View the booklet as a PDF