What A Brand Believes, It Becomes
The beliefs of an organization are foundational to both its culture and the wellbeing of its brand(s). In this blog our colleague, Chris Grindem, Executive Director of The Utmost Group, describes our shared approach to belief-based brand development. We’re certain it can have great value to your business … because “what you believe, you become.“
Beliefs Matter Most
Beliefs matter most … because beliefs are foundational to a brand’s convictions, its values, its aspirations, and ultimately, to its actions in the marketplace. Without a well-defined set of beliefs, it is impossible to objectively evaluate a brand’s objectives, strategies or tactics. And, in turn, these efforts will become vulnerable to the pressures for short-term sales, market share, profits and stock price valuations. When tested by these pressures, brands can compromise their beliefs and become something other than what they purport themselves to be. Classic examples include firms like Enron and Bear Sterns. More recent cases are serious lapses of ethics at VW and Facebook.
Brand owners are responsible.
Branding always has been and always will be an inside-out process. Regardless of its external efforts, the truth of a brand most often resides with its caretakers—especially the front line people in production, shipping, customer service, sales and delivery. When employees don’t personify a brand’s beliefs, it tells vendors, customers and prospects that they don’t believe … which can make a lie of the millions of dollars spent in support of the brand each year. The responsibility for brand beliefs, and employee behaviors, always begins in the boardroom and executive suite … with the officers entrusted to conceive, codify and communicate the truths of the brand and ensure its legacy over time. When a brand’s leaders are hiding things, and/or flat-out lying, it’s only a matter of time before things come apart. Please note these seven American corporate fines – which were all levied in the last decade – totaling 80 billion dollars:
- British Petroleum $20.8B
- Bank of America $16.65B
- Volkswagen $14.7B
- JPMorgan Chase $13B
- Citigroup $7B
- Goldman Sachs $5B
- GlaxoSmithKline $3B
Brand beliefs already exist.
The problem with most brands is that its beliefs are set top-down. That’s a mistake. When every constituency that touches a brand is included—such as middle management, employees, customer facing employees, channel partners, key customers, donors, brand loyalists and brand rejecters—a much more holistic and truthful profile emerges. Research that The Utmost Group has conducted over the past eight years has consistently shown the limitations of a top-down branding approach. Leaders know only some of the brand’s truths. But when real diversity is sought, and as many different perspectives and experiences are sought, the brand’s essential truths are always more emotional than functional or logical. That’s why discovering and codifying corporate and brand beliefs is so important … particularly when too many corporations are demonstrating the lack of integrity sited earlier.
Brands need a belief-based partner.
In a business world dominated by monthly and quarterly performance reports, it’s not surprising that companies are hiring and firing agencies at an ever-increasing pace. By playing the “blame game,” brand owners can buy time looking for the “silver bullet” answer—when, in fact, there isn’t one. To succeed, we believe brands need strong, experienced brand partners like MOVE and The Utmost Group … a partner who also has a well-developed belief system of its own, and isn’t shy about describing it. We realize not every brand, or its brand owners, will have a willingness to work this way. But for the brands who do, we believe the long-term results could be worthwhile—financially and from a long-term customer base/security basis.
To be in touch with MOVE, contact us.
To dialog with our colleague, Chris Grindem, click here.
Executive Director of The Utmost Group