By Paul Hitchens, course director, Chartered Institute of Marketing
Strong brands stand for something unique in the minds of their admirers, attracting loyal customers, engaged employees and proud suppliers. Their greater purpose can transcend their industry category to enable the brand to become a force for good.
A brand’s higher purpose may break the confines of its business category to reach further through a highly evolved value, such as happiness, safety or creativity. It is in the interest of the brand’s community to uphold these values, which in turn drive the brands performance and provide an authentic measure of success.
The perceived absence of morality in business is frequently blamed for corporate corruption, abuse of power, and the downfall of institutions and household brand names. Managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Christine Lagarde says: “We need investors and financial leaders taking values as seriously as valuation, and culture as seriously as capital.”
A brand’s values should be evident at every touchpoint experience from awareness to commitment, both online and offline, providing emotional consistency
But more brands, organisations and celebrities have fallen in the wake of corruption, leaving their brand value in negative equity.
It’s not surprising that the world’s most valuable brands are among the most attractive employers. A comparison between Interbrand and BrandZ’s annual performance tables of the most valuable global brands has strong similarities with both LinkedIn and the employer branding specialists Universum’s tables of most in-demand employers. At the intersection between the customer brand and employer brand you will find the core values that drive culture and performance.
Values are our fundamental beliefs and the principles by which we define right from wrong, empowering us to do the right thing. Brands can use values to recruit and interview candidates and measure employee performance. An engaged workforce will know intuitively what is on or off brand and should feel confident to act autonomously aiding efficiency and reducing the chances of crisis.
When marketing and human resources align, they can communicate a motivational narrative to all stakeholders, evangelising what drives the brand. For example, if a brand’s higher purpose is safety and a crisis occurs, it must act swiftly to restore this quality in the consciousness of all interested parties. A crisis can present an opportunity to demonstrate how good the brand is.
A brand’s values should be evident at every touchpoint experience from awareness to commitment, both online and offline, providing emotional consistency. If you do not clarify and communicate your values and reward those that best exemplify them, your culture will suffer and the brand reduces its chances of success.
The IMF’s Ms Lagarde also says: “When the global economy is more inclusive, the gains are less elusive, the market is more effective and a better future, for everyone, is more likely.”
The more work you put into defining what your organisation stands for, the more your brand will grow in stature and reputation.
How values build brands:
Choice: Strong values make it easier to make decisions.
Loyalty: People are loyal to brands they can relate to, that make them feel happy and confirm their own beliefs and identity.
Added value: Brands create value by establishing an emotional bond that exceeds their price.
Productivity: A brand’s values guide its behaviour and define its culture, which directly influence the brands performance.