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Branding With Purpose: Sunny Bonnell Of Motto

I’m willing to bet that most entrepreneurs who inspire other business leaders place minimal importance on profit. We cite dollars and cents because they’re easy to measure, yet they have little to tell us about success, about… fulfillment.



Trying to answer the question, “What is the soul of my company?” is not an abstract undertaking, a matter only of philosophy, but an endeavor that shapes the look, values, actions, and relationships that guide every venture. It’s hard to accomplish much of anything without first flushing out a purpose.




Motto is a purpose-driven branding firm that seeks to help companies express their soul through strategizing, naming, design, development and other services. The best way to differentiate your brand is by understanding who you are. Sunny Bonnell, Co-founder & Creative Director of Motto, tells us more:


What inspired Motto?

Motto was born from our struggle to find purpose in life and business. We were a few years into mildly successful design careers when we realized we’d lost our passion for our work. In an effort to find more meaning, we discovered a simple idea: that having a sense of purpose is the most meaningful asset in any business. That revelation inspired us to radically alter the way we approached our business and worked with clients.


By understanding our deeper purpose – to help others use their purpose to advance their brands – we fell in love with our work on a completely new level. We’re proud to offer a fresh approach to branding that centers on creating brands that are expressions of their purpose.


What makes Motto so killer? How is it different from the competition?

Where we are today is part of the plan, and each day we are advancing our cause. In the early years, we sought out the kinds of clients we wanted to work with. Today, companies and leaders are finding us because they’ve heard how transformative and unorthodox our process and style is, and [they] find common ground in our shared values.



Everyone is searching for meaning in life and businesses. We see a future where every business, every entrepreneur, every CEO, every employee is creating more purpose-driven brands. Everyday we work toward our goal of bringing the power of purpose to the forefront of business conversation and practice. People are interested in why you do what you do, how companies create their products and services, and the values that surround the business. Sharing this idea with as many people as possible and working alongside like-minded entrepreneurs is instrumental to our mission.


What advice do you have for entrepreneurs who are struggling to get their businesses off the ground?

Invest in your brand – both your internal culture and your external brand. Branding is a process of self-discovery and self-realization that forces you to understand your company at its deepest level. It goes beyond the brand’s visual identity. The process involves crafting your vision, clarifying and documenting your purpose, mission, values, beliefs, and story; articulating who you are, what you stand for and why you matter; developing a unique positioning platform and proposition; creating a messaging strategy; crafting a brand personality and tone of voice; establishing a brand look & feel; designing a visual voice; managing your reputation. Branding isn’t something you do once – branding is a long term commitment. It’s a labor of love.


What has been the biggest startup surprise for you (good or bad)?

We had always romanticized the idea of getting in the car, packing up our computers and driving cross country for a month or two and meeting our clients along the way. So, we decided to go on a two-month road trip. What we didn’t realize was that a two-month road trip would turn into nine months on the road. On April 4th, 2013, we set forth having no idea that we wouldn’t be back until just before Christmas – 9 months later.


From road-side diners, a shoot-out in Tombstone, Willie Nelson’s favorite music joint in Luckenbach, Texas, to a horseback riding dude ranch, we roamed from town to town getting tips for our next location from the people we met along the way. We drove through deserts, Texas hill country, Louisiana swamps, giant white sandhills, and up the California coast. Each day we were met with a sense of excitement for what the day would bring, people we would meet, stories we would share, and memories we would make.


How has being an entrepreneur enriched your life?

The journey has been incredible. It was never our intention to grow fast. We wanted the experience of learning the ropes, fleshing out our approach, correcting the course as necessary, and working hands-on with our clients to see the transformation. Sweat equity really was the best startup capital for us. We didn’t seek funding because we didn’t want to owe anybody anything, and we believed we had the talent and skill to go it alone. All we had was our vision and commitment to succeed, which probably led to foolish over-achievement. We were hungry and believed in what we were doing.


Where can our readers find you?


How can the KillerStartups community help YOU?

Help us share our message and help other entrepreneurs. We’d love the opportunity to write, put on a webinar – or share our ideas, tips, and tricks on a podcast.


Photo & Video Credits


Author : Keith Liles

Keith Liles is a freelance writer who loves travel, music, wine, hiking, poetry, and just about everything. He practices saying "yes" to life vigorously, rehearsing for the phone call when he's asked to tour with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Follow Keith on Twitter @KPLiles.

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