Retail Observer

November 2020

The Retail Observer is an industry leading magazine for INDEPENDENT RETAILERS in Major Appliances, Consumer Electronics and Home Furnishings

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Page 45 of 67

RETAILOBSERVER.COM NOVEMBER 2020 46 H ave you ever noticed that you can't seem to trust a person who says one thing and does another? No matter how hard they try, or what they say to persuade you, the thoughts of some people can't be covered up. Someone might say, "I really care about you," while their actions are telling a very different story. Think used-car salesmen here. Our intuition plays a large role in sensing the truth of these situations. When a brand communicates to customers, the same thing takes place. The way a company behaves when its audience is not there to see it should be no different than when they are there to witness. Just like personalities famous or otherwise, the things that people think about and care about are directly connected to how they act, and therefore how people perceive them. One way to build a stronger brand-culture connection is to take a deep assessment of how and where your brand and culture connect, and where they are disconnected. It's my belief that there can be no separation between corporate culture and brand. One comes from the other. They are directly linked. Together they define the character of your business, which is your brand. And when your brand and culture are intentionally, purposefully, and tightly tethered, they both become stronger. Here, your business works with operational integrity. WHAT SAVVY LEADERS SEE In her book, FUSION: How Integrating Brand and Culture Powers the World's Greatest Companies, Denise Lee Yohn states that "Culture is not incidental or incremental to business performance — it's instrumental." The brand-culture link is reinforced in leadership thinking, Denise continues, "As with culture, savvy business leaders have come to see their brands as value creation tools. Companies with strong brands operate more profitably and are valued at levels much higher than their estimated future cash flows and assets alone would suggest." Consumers these days are so savvy that they see right through the companies who are pretending to act one way, but whose values are placed somewhere altogether different. This is called "value washing." FROM EVOLUTION TO LAUNCH A while ago, I led a large financial institution through a brand evolution program. The company was growing through a merger and there needed to be a reassessment of the brand due to broadening services and the melding of cultures. As I led them through our research and fact-finding interview process, it was discovered that many employees did not understand what the shift meant. They also had little understanding of who they were as an organization and what the company stood for. As we moved forward in the brand evolution process, we took advantage of this lack of understanding as a blank-slate opportunity to define who they were and fold their teams into the process. I asked many members of the organization, to weigh in on the beliefs and values of the organization and I ensured that their voices were heard. This process helped us learn about the beliefs and create cultural understanding and buy-in as the brand evolution was being shaped. Well before the new brand was launched to the public, I interviewed a wide range of employees, from tellers to executives, about the core elements of their work. I focused the line of inquiry on how they interacted with one another, how they interacted with customers and the public, and how they perceived the heart and soul of the company. From this, we gave the company a report on their corporate culture and turned it inside out to express what was most important and the relevant attributes of their corporate culture to their audience. The result of fusing the culture and the brand created a brand evolution that the employees embraced and believed in, and that customers trusted. After the public brand launch, when someone came into one of their offices, the brand would continually be reinforced by the actions of the employees. The soul of any brand shines through the people who work there and serve the customers. This is integrity of brand character. After all, your brand is your character and your character is your brand. For the past 25 years, Steve has served as an advisor and consultant on brand strategy, organizational life, and humanized marketing strategy. He has worked with companies such as Samsung, Habitat for Humanity, New Balance, Sony, LG, Amazon, NFL and MLB franchises and is a regular speaker for TEDx, Creative Mornings, CES, HOW Conference, Social Venture Network, American Marketing Association, and AIGA conferences. Steve has published two books, Brand Love and Loyalty and Humanizing the Customer Journey, as well as a forthcoming book, The Evolved Brand: How to Impact the World Through the Power of Your Brand. He has been featured in Business Week, Brand Week, Ad Age, Conscious Company Magazine, MarketingProfs, and HOW magazine. Steve leads his own brand and business strategic consultancy, Mth Degree. Contact:, 619-234-1211 or RO Steven Morris On Brand AMPLIFYING THE CULTURE-BRAND CONNECTION How to tap into the soul of your brand

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