Before and during the snap general election the Conservative Prime Minister (and others) emphasised the mantra “strong and stable”. However opponents soon argued that the person saying this was also someone who was a passionate Remain campaigner before coming into government but during her time in power has said “Brexit means Brexit.”
This article is not intended to talk about the rights and wrongs of government or debate the current political situation. However the nature of what occurred during that election and some of the debates that have sparked from it do raise wider issues that businesses and other organisations would do well to learn from.
What are your brand values?
Essentially if you run a business this is something you need to decide. Some companies have clear ethical policies such as Ben and Jerry’s in terms of their social engagement, while some companies illustrate it through donations to specific political parties.
However sometimes the brand value can be as simple as whether you want to be faster, better or less expensive than your competitors. Deciding that (while at the same time having a reasonable degree of flexibility) can make it easier to focus your marketing and target an appropriate demographic.
Be wary of what you promise
As customers become more aware and social media becomes more prevalent it is more difficult for companies to cover up mistakes or to mislead them. For example if you market a product as “natural” but it contains a lot of chemicals with very few organic ingredients then you run the risk of being labelled a hypocrite.
On the other hand how you interact on social media and deal with complaints can be a way of proving your brand values as well- if you deal with a complaint promptly and in the right way this will reflected well on you.
Of course there are two sides to every story and being too honest can get you in trouble as well- there was the infamous moment when Gerald Ratner described his own jewellery line as “crap”, almost instantly finishing off his brand.
Social media is a particularly dangerous aspect for this- don’t think that writing “all opinions are my own” in your bio allows you to get away with anything! If you have a company profile what you write will be associated with your business so you need to be responsible for what you say and how you say it.
Show don’t tell
It is easy in an advertising campaign to tell people what you believe. However demonstrating it is often a lot more effective- supporting local community projects, positively interacting with customers and so forth will give people a much clearer indication.
It has to be emphasised that nobody will expect you to be perfect or get it right all the time- but if you can deal with problems and show people how you intend to follow your brand values then in the long term you will have the strength and stability that customers and clients will want to be a part of.
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Gary Pike MD Right International
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