Marketing

Brand and culture have become one

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Billions of individuals equipped with smartphone, real time information and the ability to communicate on a global scale have turned the tables on marketers. Now, every member of the audience for our messages can reach everyone else. And they can all see everything about our companies, not just what we want to tell them. This challenges the discipline of brand management, forged over 80 years of segmenting messages by audience and carefully crafting brand images. Pervasive communication and radical transparency mean that an organization must now actually be what it says it is. Brand and culture have become one.

The downside: gaps between messages and realities are immediately visible. The upside: every enterprise and institution has a treasure trove of authentic advocates – if it knows how to engage and activate them. They exist both within and outside the organization. For example, individuals who engage actively in social media are sharing valuable feedback and preferences we didn’t have before. They are opening the door to more authentic and firmly grounded relationships with brands and institutions.

According to a paper recently published by the Arthur W. Page Society, this new transparency, and the greater authenticity it makes possible, create an opportunity to define and activate any organization’s corporate character – its unique identity, differentiating purpose and the values that guide them. This can help ensure that the enterprise “looks like, sounds like, thinks like and performs like” its stated character.


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Laurie Tucker
FedEx Services

“As large as we are now and with as many employees worldwide as we have, it’s really tough to be good every single day unless it’s at the core of what you are as a company.”

 

Thomas Malone
MIT Sloan School of Management

“We’re no longer thinking about today’s organizations and how they’re going to change. Instead we’re talking about the goal of having intelligent organizations and thinking about how that can occur in new ways with these new technologies.”

 

Teddy Goff
President Obama’s 2012 campaign

“You cannot use a lot of banner advertising or a clever tweet to paper over the fact that your product is no good or your corporate values are awful or that you don’t treat people well.”

 

Brian Kenny
Harvard Business School

“We couldn’t be defensive; we had to be honest and accountable because we knew as an institution that the connective tissue between Wall Street and Harvard Business School is real.”

 

Biz Stone
Twitter

“Consumers want to know the story of the product, but also of the people behind the product or company. So marketers need to be able to tell a story that’s compelling about what the company cares for in a way that encourages consumers to interact.”

 

Marc Mathieu
Unilever

“More and more, it’s consumers doing the branding. They own the brands. Social media gives us the opportunity to have people tell us what they respond to, what they need, what they like and what they don’t respond to.”

 

John Miller
NBC Universal Television Group

“A marketer has to be as savvy about what the product is. You still have to position it in a certain way, but you have to be true to the product. You can’t just fake it anymore.”

</Brett Goldstein
Formerly of the City of Chicago

“One of the things that came up in the mayor’s campaign was the importance of sharing data with the public. My job is to make that an operational reality…”

Tony Hsieh
Zappos

“If you’re worried about what your employees are going to say on Twitter, that’s probably a manager/employee problem, not a Twitter problem. Just make sure you hire employees whose personal values match the corporate values and therefore they’re just always living and representing your brand.”

Isabelle Conner
Formerly of Zurich Insurance Group

“It comes down to the mindset of the organization, the culture. If we just focus on simply communicating happy messages in our ads, but we haven’t addressed the culture piece internally, customers will experience a gap and become frustrated. Your brand promise and the brand experience must be in synch. Our research shows that a caring attitude is the sweet spot in our industry. But you must build this into your systems, processes, hiring practices, training, etc.”

Chris Gabaldon
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company

“A lot of companies focus on social because they think it’s a new frontier. For us, it’s just another channel to tell our story. If the story is not authentic or true to the brand, it falls apart. Anybody who believes that he or she can create something out of just social media is off. It needs to be rooted in the value of the brand.”

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