True differentiation can be a challenge for organisations so defining and communicating brand values is omnipotent. Yet identifying these values and ensuring they permeate the organisation can be challenging. It is essential that leadership teams demonstrate clear brand values and ensure these are embedded into the culture of the firm to enhance customer loyalty in a challenging market place.
- Reputation and brand are often intertwined so many think in terms of internal and external factors affecting it.
- Identifying values that you share with colleagues, clients or even prospective client can extend loyalty and engagement.
- Trust and confidence are slow to build and quick to erode. With multiple external and internal factors feeding into your brand – marketing, communication and brand crisis management are likely to rise in importance on the C-suite agenda.
Key issues and challenges:
- Identifying brand ‘values’ that underpin its philosophy, way of thinking and practice of the organisation. This is important because if people (e.g. clients, employees, prospective clients and so on) identify particular values they believe they share with a brand – then they are more likely to remain loyal and engaged in the long-term.
- According to some experts, ‘values’ need to be applied ‘top-down’. In other words: “Leadership teams need to put forward and demonstrate their brand values; this should then trickle down into other areas of the business such as recruitment, culture and training.”
- Senior leaders need to be seen living and breathing their brand values, and (when possible) create brand advocates for the firm.
- Perhaps unsurprisingly, reputation and brand are often intertwined. Donald Trump and Richard Branson were put forward as just some examples of leaders representing their brand.
- Other ways to live out your brand is through the language you use; the graphics, colours and visuals you use; your website and marketing materials; the work that you do; and ultimately – the way your clients (and employees) speak about you.
- When thinking about threats (and opportunities) to a brand – many think in terms of internal and external factors affecting it. In discussing the idea of brand and reputation, many were, perhaps unsurprisingly, drawn to last year’s Panama Papers leak, as well as this year’s more recent Paradise Papers.
- Trust is slow to build and all too quick to erode. For example, many found it surprising that Appleby (the offshore legal advice firm) knew about that hack as far back as last year, yet did little to forewarn its clients.
- Moreover, the latest leak led to some interesting discussions, such as the idea of broadcasters and news outlets using stolen data to benefit the public good. However, if nothing criminal is uncovered – to what extent is the discussion really in the public interest?
- Confidentiality agreements can of course be considered but some delegates and experts felt that the sheer act of taking action, can often give the issue more oxygen. Great care needs to be taken in enforcing such agreements because in the long-term it could make thing worse e.g. could be interpreted as ‘media gagging’.
- Candidly speaking, several said that the last thing they want to do is report themselves to regulators e.g. disclosing the fact that they may have taken a ‘hit’ from hackers. According to one delegate, their bank registered over 2.5 billion attempts on their banking systems in the last year alone. They are conscious that countless more remain unidentified, highlighting the colossal scale and indeterminable landscape for future issues.
Conclusion and solutions:
How firms choose to play out the brand communications and brand management piece will be important, because as with most things – it will be a case of when, not if.
Expert: Michael Patrick, Farrer & Co . Facilitator: Laura Cavauiti