Building a Culture-Shifting Brand
By Samantha Rideout, MPR
The number of women working outside of the home is the lowest it’s been in 34 years. The pandemic has exacerbated the gaps for women in the workplace, but even before the pandemic, mothers were lacking the support they needed from employers.
The taboo culture around things that matter to mothers cripples innovation and retention. This disconnect is more evident than ever as the “shecession” barrels onward into 2022.
Enter Mamava. This brand emerged when co-founders Sascha Mayer and Christine Dodson applied decades of design expertise and brand strategy to create lactation spaces in workplaces and public spaces.
Nicci Micco, Mamava’s Vice President of Marketing, explained how to build a brand that solves a critical problem when the problem is largely invisible and unspoken.
The weight of words
“We love stories,” said Micco. “Empathy is one of Mamava’s core values, and storytelling is a powerful vehicle for conveying we hear you, you’re not alone—and how we can help. Sometimes that help comes in the form of information or community. Sometimes help is in the form of a product—like our pods and our free lactation space locator app—that makes life easier for breastfeeding people and/or the organizations that support them. In both our parent-facing and customer-facing content, we aim to present a diverse mix of experiences, highlighting challenges, yes, but also celebrating victories.”
Micco shifted to the FemTech industry from a career in publishing, where she developed an affinity for the content marketing principle: Create Once, Publish Everywhere (COPE). Micco added her own spin to the marketing practice transforming it to Create Once, Deploy Everywhere (CODE).
“Having a ‘Secret CODE’ for executing efficient and effective marketing sounded more empowering than ‘COPE-ing,’ and the term feels relevant to many parts of our business. Have an effective new process? Create it, share it cross-departmentally, implement it everywhere it makes sense.”
Micco was proud to hear her terminology catch on when folks outside the marketing department began to talk about “CODE-ing” an effort.
Marketers have a unique depth of understanding of how words matter.
“Mamava is evolving our brand language to be more inclusive,” said Micco when asked about what common myths she would like to dispel.
“Our focus on making the world friendlier for all breastfeeding people doesn’t just benefit women,” Micco explained.
“Delivering a product and sharing thought leadership that supports breastfeeding helps to create more equity, particularly in workplaces, which benefits the culture at large and may help drive other positive structural changes too. It’s worth noting that not all breastfeeding people identify as female, women, or mothers.”
The power of the pause
Start-up culture is notorious for being high-energy with a high volume of new ideas, and for many, it’s easy to get lost in that hustle.
“Our team is filled with brilliant, engaged individuals who are wildly passionate about pressing for progress and continuous innovation—which results in loads of great ideas and, sometimes, folks sprinting in different directions.”
With refreshing self-awareness, Micco admits that it’s her natural tendency as well.
“But no brand has unlimited resources in terms of time, money, energy—and that’s particularly true at a growing start-up like Mamava. It’s important to stop and sometimes, perhaps often, be the person who says: that’s a great idea, but why are we doing this, or why are we doing it now? If we decide to hold, we capture the idea on a Monday.com board to revisit later.”
She summarizes this management ideally in five words: “Practice, and promote, the pause.”
Shifting culture takes time
Mamava is powering a culture shift around a topic that is still surprisingly taboo in many offices. If you follow their Twitter feed, you’ll see an outpouring of messages like: “Thank you to @MAMAVA for your awesome pods. Made a hectic travel day much better. #breastfeeding #babyface #momlife” and “The @MAMAVA lactation stations around IAH Airport are amazing!!! I could control the lighting and airflow from the app. AND they provide soothing music and white noise if you need.”
Many of the tweets adorn pictures of smiles and happy babies.
Yet Micco still fields occasional comments about showing “too much breast.”
“Our goal is to normalize breastfeeding as natural and life-sustaining. Shifting culture takes time.”
“At the same time, Mamava pods provide privacy for breastfeeding parents who prefer it—most folks do when they’re pumping breast milk versus putting baby to breast—and our spaces are designed as big beautiful billboards that broadcast: breastfeeding is happening all around! Isn’t that great?”
Channel the spirit of CODEing and celebrate National Women’s History Month by sharing how Micco’s strategic marketing approach to brand storytelling is shifting the culture and creating spaces for mothers to thrive.
Samantha Rideout is the Marketing Director at a four-time Inc. 5000 fastest-growing company, Pharmaceutical Strategies Group. Samantha has been published by PR News, the University of Edinburgh Press, PR Daily, and more. She has a master’s degree in public relations. Samantha volunteers with the American Marketing Association. Connect with Samantha on LinkedIn.