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.

Why your agency shouldn’t write everything in-house

Have you found the right balance between in-house and freelance copywriting skills?

In my experience, every design agency sees the relationship between words and design slightly differently. That includes the role copywriting plays in your process; at what stage it’s considered; and who actually writes it.

Perhaps you outsource all your copywriting needs. Or you might handle some of it, but bring in specialists for particular projects. Some agencies have fully fledged in-house departments to take care of it all.

Whatever your set-up, copy is most powerful and effective when it’s baked into the design process from the start – not bolted on as an afterthought. It should be a collaborative, two-way relationship.

That’s particularly true when working with an external consultant. If you’re not on the same page, you risk wasting time and money. But get it right, and both you and your clients will benefit from a totally fresh perspective.

So what does this look like in practice?

Two years ago, I left my full-time role as a design journalist and editor to become a freelance consultant. It wasn’t a snap decision: I’d spent the best part of a year considering how my editorial background could best complement different types of agency model.

Part of this was translating journalistic skills into compelling copywriting and brand storytelling. But while freelance copywriters are plentiful, it’s a lot rarer to find someone with an in-depth understanding of the design industry, and how the creative process works.

I’ve spent years interviewing designers to get to the heart of how they work, and find the most interesting way to tell the stories behind their projects. I’ve scanned more agency press releases than I care to remember, and reviewed thousands of entries to the Brand Impact Awards.

Presenting the Brand Impact Awards in 2018. Image credit: Future

All this has taught me that it’s not just your clients that need great copywriting. It should play a big role in your agency’s internal operations too – because that’s what sells your creative approach to the next client.

Read more: Why your design agency needs a content strategy

Why work with an external consultant to do this? As one client said to me recently, it’s all too easy to get ‘snow-blind’ when you’re too close to things.

I know what’s unique – and crucially, what isn’t – about what your agency does, and can help you develop a content strategy that tells that story in a convincing way. And if it works for you, it’ll work for your clients too.


Does your agency need a fresh perspective?