BlackRock

Helping a financial juggernaut bridge the gap between profit and purpose.

The Ask

BlackRock is the largest asset manager in the world, overseeing funds from firefighter pensions to university endowments, and has maintained deep integrity throughout its meteoric growth. But being a largely B2B business, the organization had never invested in “consumer-centric” marketing prior to its engagement with Sylvain Labs. The opportunity was ripe, as society sits on the precipice of the greatest wealth transfer in history as well as a savings and retirement crisis across America. In this climate, it has never been more urgent for BlackRock to offer financial guidance and tools to broader audiences, and communicate its purpose to the public. What does BlackRock stand for and how should it manifest its purpose?

Unearthing Truth

To unearth a meaningful purpose for BlackRock we first looked in. We held intimate conversations with stakeholders across the company while digging into the company’s 30-year history in order to discover authentic truths about BlackRock’s unique approach. At the same time, we looked out, analyzing the category landscape and cultural sentiments surrounding investing and finance. This was complemented with in-depth interviews with end investors and financial advisors around the world to get a closer look at everyday needs and perspectives.

Unlocking Possibility

We discovered that even the most educated of individuals perceive the finance industry to be ‘gaming’ them, and desperately crave security and confidence in their financial futures. At the same time, we learned that BlackRock’s story is not one of innovation, mastery or growth; rather it is the story of everyone’s right to security, decency and the ability to share generously. It was founded in favor of the buy-side, bringing transparency to financial products from its inception, and continuing to make them more accessible for more audiences. From this, we collaborated with BlackRock stakeholders to articulate a new guiding purpose for the organization — BlackRock can reframe financial health as an essential part of everyone’s well-being, ultimately bringing financial well-being to more and more people.

Manifesting Impact

Beyond delivering a strategic brand purpose, Sylvain Labs went on to activate the work internally, touching every aspect of the business from asset-class positionings to product architecture and naming. Our engagement with BlackRock is ongoing as we continue to explore ways to help this industry giant lead by example, reconcile profit and purpose, and put the well-being of the public at the center of everything.

Results

Since the start of our partnership, BlackRock has taken a bold stand for purpose among its industry peers, starting with CEO Larry Fink’s Letter to CEOs urging them to go beyond sole profit-seeking and prioritize the impact their businesses have on the welfare of society. In early 2020, BlackRock further lived its purpose by overhauling its strategy to focus on sustainable investing,paving a new path for the industry.

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