If you can align your business, brand and staff´s response to it, you are in the best position to face what the future holds.
In early April 2016, we had an introductory meeting with the owner of a medium-sized, industrial, family-owned company in Spain. We began the meeting by thanking him for his reception and asked him if he was aware of how the brand influenced his business and the importance of having a brand- developing process within the company’s growth strategy.
His answer demonstrated us that we should persuade him with our best skills to have a place in his head and heart for finance, for people and … also for the brand.
To demonstrate the importance of this, we used the following chart:
Illustration 1 | ©Nader Tavassoli 2015 and own elaboration
Summarizing the chart:
- The company with all its complexities is a living organism that is created by a purpose and it extends to its products
- The brand, through a clear promise and values put in action, establishes a conversation among the company´s staff and the external audiences that sets in motion the reasoning, emotions and good work: mind, heart and hands
- The company´s behavior is reflected on daily basis, in its discussions and transactions, influencing what “the other” ends up receiving. Through these interactions, the company also learns what is necessary for its clients in order to design and generate a unique experience for them.
- A satisfying experience is ultimately what stays with the customer. If they feel what they have gone through was worthwhile, they will return sooner rather than later. They will end up believing in the company and its brand.
The leaders´role in building trust
Nowadays, people increasingly expect to be able to create and personalize many aspects of their lives. This expectation gives rise to a new set of values centered on participation. This participation is developed by means of bonds between people beyond their roles, based on open collaboration, on the transparency that requires the culture of “do it yourself”, on the fact that everything takes place in real time, that one should teach by example, that faithfulness is conditional, that nothing is forever…
On the other hand, in this last decade, the new communication technologies have promoted the development of a competitive, hyper connected and much more transparent environment.
By joining both things, we can notice that brands are under a lot of pressure to be authentic. As today all things happen in real time, authenticity is valued.
Having a CEO or committed management team, who is visible and authentic with their audiences, is more important than five years ago for building trust with customers and stakeholders. This is confirmed by a research made by the Public Relations and Communications Association of the United Kingdom known as the “CEO Uncovered” – February 2016. More than 60% of the 2.000 respondents believe that it is more important than five years ago that the CEOs be visible for the public. They are also part of the brand’s experience.
The brand is the leader´s responsibility because it is a tool that adds value and margin. A good brand generates trust and a good management team promotes it too.
The company’s strategy is achieved through the brand
Big companies, have many things in common: products and services of excellent design, experiences of unforgettable brands, an excellent implementation capacity, exceptional talent, teamwork and… a great leadership.
Jim Stengel, director of global marketing of Procter & Gamble during the period 2001-2008, in his book Grow (2011) states that what distinguishes brands like Google, Apple, IBM is a clear orientation towards a brand purpose. According to his opinion, Purpose is achieved through a brand. For example, Google’s purpose is to provide universal access to information, the one of IBM, is to create a “smarter” planet and the one of Apple, is to potentiate self-expression through “Think different”. The three of them have formulated their business around powerful ideas that go behind real values which are those that directly connect with the continual search for meaning. And this connection with their audience happens through the brand.
A purpose not only transmits business strategy; this purpose IS the strategy of business. Therefore, a brand with purpose is an increasingly valuable resource.
The implementation of strategy is achieved through people
Real time requires immediate responses and this immediacy is managed on the basis of experiences based in values transferred to everyday reality. If a company´s employees live according to the corporative values in their day-to-day lives, this will have a very strong and positive effect in building trust in the brand and in their financial gains. This “personal touch” is what inspires trust.
The purpose of a brand can be used as a principle of internal organization. The final proof of the purpose´s authenticity is based on the degree in which it guides the company´s behavior. It has an impact on the internal alignment, on the staff behavior, on its satisfaction and retention. The way in which the offices are set up, the type of people that are hired, with what organizations it is associated, what events it organizes, each piece of communication it produces… All these transfer the purpose to the customers and stakeholders.
In 2007, Dave Ulrich already wrote about how leadership could be another attribute of the brand.
A shared identity among the leaders of an organization is important to get closer to its customers and stakeholders. This identity, shared and managed with authenticity, builds trust, helps to differentiate from others and drives the business.
When a CEO understands the impact that brands can have on the implementation of strategy, he/she discovers a very powerful tool to unite and align their teams and give life to their interactions with customers and stakeholders.
In summary, for your company to be guided by a purpose:
- Formulate your company around a powerful idea behind real values that go beyond its ideal business model. You will be known by this idea.
- Connect those values with clearly observable and defined behaviors.
- Give life to the strategy reflecting these behaviors in day-to-day lives. They will be your seal of leadership and another attribute of your brand. The employees, including the CEO and management staff, shall fulfill the promise, making a sustainable future.
- From time to time, measure how these values are lived and the purpose through the impact of your product or service in the market.
We can say that the brand influences in business because…
If a brand is requested to fulfill with what it promises… and people fulfill that promise through their daily work, the company builds trust and increases its value.