This is a transcript for an episode of Branding Love Letters, which is available wherever you listen to podcasts.

Find your platform by clicking the love letter:

"Thankyou: A Social Enterprise Facing Goliath" — Levina Kusumadjaja, Brand Strategist And Project Manager

Levina Kusumadjaja (00:00): Hello, I'm Levina Kusumadjaja and I do brand strategy and project management for brand strategists, agencies and creative entrepreneurs. And this is my love letter to Thankyou.

Sam Thorogood (00:13): Your brand plus an emotional connection with your audience equals success. This podcast explores that middle part. I'm Sam, a brand designer and your host. In each episode, I invite a guest to pick their favourite brand and unpack why it means so much. As they share, we learn what makes audiences tick. Not with strategy or theory, but through that undeniable proof of successful branding: emotion.

Levina Kusumadjaja (01:08): So, I first discovered Thankyou in September 2020. It was through, I think, an Instagram post where they were launching this campaign called No Small Plan. So, it's basically an eight-minute video on YouTube, but they also post it like they also launch it on social media. And it was a video inviting Unilever and P&G, like super big consumer goods companies in the world, to partner with them. And through that partnership, they want to amplify their impact, which is to bring an end to extreme poverty in the world. So, that was my first encounter. And I remember just kind of walking away. It was like, oh, they're crazy, you know, in all the best ways. But I was like, they are crazy. And maybe somebody has done this, but I thought to myself, I was just like, who would have the guts? To launch a global campaign where they invite the whole world to join in, in a petition for two, maybe, you know, the giants in consumer goods in the world to join this social enterprise that I've never heard about. So, that was pretty much the first time I encountered Thankyou.

Sam Thorogood (02:36): And was there something about the kind of the audacity of doing this public petition to these two, you know, you described them as giants, but really, I mean, P&G and Unilever are absolutely enormous corporations. Was there something about the audacity of this sort of almost like David and Goliath situation of this small social enterprise, putting out this public appeal and trying to get all this traction?

Levina Kusumadjaja (03:03): They were so bold and honest, you know, like, in a sense I've seen big campaigns out there, several times in my life. Okay, but for the first time, like, I've encountered a brand that I realised they're fighting for something so big, which is... Because their statement, Thankyou as a brand was like, they want to end extreme poverty in the world, which is so big. But I believe them. I could see that this was no marketing gimmick. You know, I believe that, you know, in that video, and even everything that they stand for, in their website, their social media, like, they meant what they say, they're serious about what they're fighting for. It's, it's, like, you know, sometimes, like, you look at big campaigns, and you think to yourself, they're just doing this as a clickbait. They're just doing this to buy people into, like, what they're doing. But then it's not real. But this time, I was like, no, this is... This is a real invitation. And I don't think they have a Plan B you know so, yeah, the audacity in all the best ways... It was amazing to me.

Sam Thorogood (04:19): Can you describe the video a little bit more?

Levina Kusumadjaja (04:22): Yeah so they... I think Daniel Flynn is the one, one of the co-founders who was recorded there and he walked us through the story of two extremes in the world between extreme poverty and extreme consumerism. And they talk about how Thankyou as a brand, which is... They make disruptive, design-led, sustainable products ranging from personal care to cleaning products and so they, they want to bridge that extreme between poverty and consumerism and inviting all of us to kind of join in this, uh, ‘movement’ you know where we buy Thankyou products and we participate in that so that all the profits can go to ending extreme poverty. They invite these two giants to partner with them in the hope that, hey, if we all partnered together, imagine the impact like just the ability to scale the impact that they can bring to end poverty which is what all of us kind of wants to see as well. And so yeah, so it was that. So it was purely presenting what Thankyou is doing, presenting the problem as a story of like how we can take part in that and then an invitation to these two companies and inviting all of us like really the rest of us, the whole world, to kind of say ‘I'm in, are you?’ You know, like as a petition to these two companies to kind of partner with Thankyou.

Sam Thorogood (05:53): And then talk to me about the subsequent weeks, months, years as you've journeyed with this brand. What has that meant for you, that personal journey?

Levina Kusumadjaja (06:03): I think two words that come to mind is like honesty and just rawness. Like, that realness of... There's just no fluff around their brand. I feel like I've grown from somebody who is... I call it like I was a surprise stranger kind of thing, you know. Someone who's kind of like, I was shocked to see the scale of what they were doing but then I believe them but then I don't just believe that they meant what they say but I believe in why they exist and I see them making the effort of making things happen kind of thing and then you know so now I'm talking about this brand to everybody. I mean on this podcast, but also like to other people who let's say they live in Australia (because the brand is from Australia), they want to buy, like they look for personal care products or cleaning products, I would always say get Thankyou, you know kind of thing. And then now like I call myself a student of their brand, like I want to keep learning from them and how they can kind of bring about the change, like how they keep adjusting, they keep adapting, they keep innovating, they keep like... How to me it's been a journey of that from kind of like a stranger who's shocked at what they're doing and then to a believer and then also an advocate and then now like even more so like a student of the brand and looking at them as a role model, I think like an inspiration.

Sam Thorogood (07:36): It's fair to say that they've had a really, really difficult few years and they've been very transparent about the difficulties. Talk a little bit about why it's been so difficult for them and how that's kind of emotionally affected you as, as someone who is really an advocate for what they believe in and who has got behind this mission.

Levina Kusumadjaja (07:56): I think of three words that comes to mind which is like humility, courage and trust. Like you said, their transparency to me is like... It shows humility and that's why I said there's no fluff. Like, you can't... You don't make this stuff up. This is not for marketing, this is simply them standing for what they believe and being real about the journey to everybody. And to just kind of like say we're still fighting for good, we're still wanting to make a difference, but we have to make some changes in our business model because some things are not working... And to admit that publicly and making the pivot to me, that speaks of courage and that builds more trust, you know what I mean? It's like I have to be honest, like I think after I found that campaign, I still loved them but then I knew that, you know, that probably P&G and Unilever won't say yes. Like, that was just like my first instinct and I was right. But I was amazed that actually they used that to pursue the right yeses instead of, like, you know... Kind of like, OK fine, that's it. It was a failed campaign, we'll just move on and do something else, you know, but they went back to the drawing board and revisited their strategy and they pivoted and now I think seeing...

(09:25): I mean just looking from social media, like where they're at and what they're doing, to me they're better than ever you know like even from the look and feel. Even just visually looking at them, to me like this is an elevated version of what they were. Now it feels more mature. I think they know who they are, they know who to partner with, they know how to present their story in a way that... OK so let's say if, you know, partnering with fast-moving consumer goods is not the answer, then how do you rally the whole world to kind of go with this vision and this mission, you know? And I think they said it in one of the articles, they say like we tried going like big so fast and it didn't work so now we're going one day at a time, month by month, country by country and we're going to grow from there. And I think, I love that transparency, you know? And it's just like that to me, makes us trust them more and want to rally with them more like as they grow and see where the next season kind of takes them.

Sam Thorogood (10:32): You, you talk a little bit about the visual identity. Can you unpack that a bit more and explore maybe why that is, that is working so well now and why you really feel like they've arrived at a place visually that that matches who they are as a brand?

Levina Kusumadjaja (10:51): I know how the logo makes me feel but I don't know why, per se. Unless like I actually sit down with somebody in their creative team to kind of know. But to me that's even a greater testament, you know, because I don't know what they're doing. I know they use a sans serif, know their logo is simply just 'thankyou’ as, you know, just the word ‘thankyou’ and then if you look at their packaging design and kind of like the labels that they use and just the way they craft out their social media, you can see that even their choice of colours like... I don't, I cannot even pinpoint what their colour scheme, the colours in their kind of mood board it kind of... I can't, I don't have that in my expertise to define that, but what I do know is that I don't see the colours trying to scream and shout and trying to make a statement. I don't see the typography trying to do that but what I see is that everything's coming together to emphasise the message. The message is the hero. Like, they shout quality obviously, you can see that. They're so intentional about everything that they put in the label and all of that so it shows: OK, this is a good product. It's a well-thought of design like it's not a product that just kind of, like you produce it at the mass level and you don't think about it but this is a product of someone who's been thinking about it. You know they've put effort into it, but it doesn't get in the way of the message. It strengthens it and I think I've learned that great visual identities, like if you were to create a whole visual system and if they're great and they communicate a message, that's the work of incredible creative minds.

Sam Thorogood (12:34): And it’s a fascinating visual identity because for me, it kind of... It sort of evokes this idea of a blank canvas, like I don't know, I feel with their identity there's a lot of space that they leave. Like physically, they leave, they physically leave a lot of space that you know... A lot of it is negative space, a lot of it is whites or off-whites or kind of, you know... Very simple, very minimalist. And I think you're right, I think it's that thing of like actually this elevates the message, doesn't it? There is a very well thought-through visual identity system going on but I think it's so clever because it, it's never screaming in your face, like you say. It's always sort of inviting you, inviting the consumer into a story almost that they, that they can take ownership of.

Levina Kusumadjaja (13:25): Like you said, it's carefully well thought out. This was no accident and what's crazy is I would imagine if this was put side by side in an aisle, I think... I don't think they're going to stand out as much compared to the other like personal care cleaning products. OK, like I am confident if they're set side by side with other products on a supermarket aisle, they will stand out to a certain extent because they look really well done and maybe because their packaging of their bottle is a little bit different, but I think what will draw us into that is because... Let's say for me as a customer, if they were available in Indonesia, I would actually go through the lengths to buy them simply because I love what they're fighting for and I want that.

Sam Thorogood (14:17): Just a quick one to ask you for a small favour that you can do right now. If you haven't already subscribed to this podcast, I invite you to hit subscribe or follow, whatever it looks like on your podcast player. And that just means that you'll see new episodes of Branding Love Letters as they come out. If you have already subscribed to this podcast, here's what you can do right now: I invite you to leave a rating, a star rating, or leave a review, a short review, and that just makes a huge difference to what I can do with this podcast: the stories that I can tell and the insights that we can gain into emotional connections to branding. Thank you very much. Back to the interview.

(15:06): What has Thankyou done that has surprised you?

Levina Kusumadjaja (15:11): So I'm actually surprised that they haven't given up yet. And I'm not saying that in a way that's, you know, negative but I'm saying it in a way that from someone who's incredibly inspired by what they're doing... You know, I mean, I think I've mentioned it also and I think you can see it Sam, like how what they're fighting for is not just bigger... Like, it's so big I can't even... Words cannot do justice to describe how big of a mission they're trying to fight for. You know, and they've failed time and time again and even like they've launched campaigns like in 2018. Project Salvation, for example, where they say like oh we're pulling apart the business. But through it all, they come back. They just, they just wouldn't go. They stayed, they fought and to me like that, that's surprising because I think it's easier... This is a social enterprise that exists for others, it's the choice for the people inside that team to go for other things that are easier. The choice is endless but they chose to stay. Here's the thing that I felt so moved when I saw this Instagram post on their, on their account like... So in May 2023 they relaunched Thankyou with a new line of products. Even I think new designs also, like they updated the whole experience and they launched some projects to kind of get the word out. And part of it is a pop-up store called the Inside Store.

(16:45): And so they candidly interview their CFO... OK, they didn't interview their brand ambassador, not even the co-founder who like is used to kind of talking elsewhere, but this is their CFO who's always behind the scenes. I see her as no celebrity, you know what I mean? Like, she's just a regular person who's influential inside, behind the scenes. And they asked her the question: what does this store mean to you? And then she said this store is a light, but what struck me wasn't her answer because I also think like, yes, Thankyou is a light, it's a beacon of hope for people, it's inspiring and all of that. But when she said that word ‘light’, that same second she started crying. In that video, she started crying and she started explaining you know why it mattered so much to her personally that we're still fighting for this. And to me that is why the brand is still alive. That is why Thankyou is still thriving and through all of those ups and downs it's still going, because there are people behind the scenes like this CFO (I think her name is May-Threen) who believe in what they're fighting for to the point it moves them to tears. I think you can't make that stuff up. That is not, you know, that is not a marketing strategy: it's just real conversation with real people who love what Thankyou is doing and want to rally with them.

Sam Thorogood (18:20): And how would you describe Thankyou to someone who's never heard of them?

Levina Kusumadjaja (18:26): A force for good, a game-changer, an inspiration, a brand that we all can learn from and aspire to be.

Sam Thorogood (18:39): What are your hopes for the next few years for this, for this brand?

Levina Kusumadjaja (18:41): Wow, that is a powerful question. I, well, one: I hope that they they're still there. You know, like I hope they don't lose their passion to kind of pursue... To still help the world end extreme poverty. I think that's one but I really hope they're able to go international. I hope that they will not just stay in Australia in a retail kind of form, that they find partners on a global scale so that they can spread the message all over. You know? Because I'm confident that they're not just people... Like, I'm not the only one who's paying attention to them, wanting them to succeed, trying to support them in our best ability from the distance even by just talking about them or kind of learning from them, you know? And because I'm confident so many people want to journey with them, it's just I think figuring out the logistics of the products and all that... It's not as simple as it looks, but I hope that they find the right partners so they can really bring this to an international level.

Sam Thorogood (20:00): Levina, tell me a bit more about you and tell me where people can connect in with what you're doing.

Levina Kusumadjaja (20:08): So as I mentioned a little bit earlier, I do brand strategy and project management. So I love working with creatives like you, Sam, and so many others in the branding space who love solving problems to strategy and just building good brands, like the one that we just talked about which is Thankyou. So if you want to connect, please do find me on LinkedIn. You can type in my name Levina Kusumadjaja uh which is k-u-s-u-m-a d-j-a-j-a which is a very long and awkward name but it is what it is. I love my name, it's OK. Or you can check out my website: or and just reach out because I love having virtual coffees on Zoom and just learning about branding and strategy, hearing your story and who knows? Maybe we can do some pretty cool stuff and bring an impact together to the world.

Sam Thorogood (21:06): So finally, I would love to hear this love letter that you have written to Thankyou.

Levina Kusumadjaja (21:11): Dear Thankyou, to say that you've inspired me and many people is truly an understatement. Because if everyone was created to live a life of purpose that's bigger than themselves, you've modelled that for all of us. You are unapologetically fighting for a cause that no word in the English language can do justice to summarise its magnitude. When I met you in 2020, I was awestruck. It was love at first sight. I didn't think it was possible to find a brand that was so humble, honest and yet bold at the same time. How could it be that a force so powerful in the marketplace could feel so grounded and approachable? But that was exactly who you are. And maybe because I too want it to be like that, I too want my life and what I do to make a difference in this world. So when I looked at you, I saw a glimpse of what was possible. Your No Small Plan was indeed a Goliath-sized plan, but you did it anyway and you rallied the whole world with you.

(22:22): You reminded us what it means to dream big and to keep going: to not stop fighting when things become really hard and to not walk away and instead to pause and reimagine. You invited us to reimagine how we do things: our strategy, our processes, our systems... You invited us to reimagine what it means to impact the world and to reimagine what it looks like: to invite us to reimagine with you. And because of you, lives are changed. And because of you, many people want to change lives along with you. So thank you for carefully crafting a brand that tells the bigger story so clearly and developing products that actually make our world and people's lives better. Thank you for pioneering a movement that makes us realise what truly matters and why people are worth fighting for. Thank you for being a team of people who are pouring your heart and soul into an enterprise that exists solely for others, when the choice to work for yourself is endless. I hope you don't stop until you reach the finish line, to help create a world where not one person lives in extreme poverty. Today, I choose Thankyou and I promise I will keep choosing Thankyou.

Sam Thorogood (23:40): Well, Levina, thank you very much for letting us hear your branding love letter.

Levina Kusumadjaja (23:47): Thank you Sam. This was a very, very meaningful conversation. Thank you for having me.

Sam Thorogood (23:54): Thanks for listening to Branding Love Letters with me, Sam Thorogood. I'm a brand designer for startups, creators, charities, eco projects and church plants. I'm on a mission: equip these pioneering brands to bring others onto their journeys. If you're interested, you can discover more at Oh, and big thank you to Thomas Thorogood for the music. Take it away, Tommy Boy.

Sam Thorogood | Pilgrimage Design