Retail Observer

June 2021

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

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RETAILOBSERVER.COM JUNE 2021 44 Steven Morris On Brand T his September will be the 20th anniversary of 9/11. I remember it well – I was at the gym watching CNN when I saw the jet strike the first tower. I rushed home, devastated by the shock of it all as the world seemed to go numb. Life as we knew it had changed in an instant. Up to that point, businesses were humming along. Then… The COVID pandemic and the 2008 housing crisis had similar earth-shaking effects. These are reminders that many of the larger influences in our lives and our business are out of our control. So, what's the remedy? How can we prepare for the unforeseeable? When we're faced with adversity and our backs are against the wall, we're usually left with little choice but to dig deep into our principles, values and beliefs. We double-down on our essentials and non-negotiables. And when our resolve is tested, there's a grace that tends to show up that we didn't know was there. Every leader, every team and every brand will face adversity. It may take the form of a personal crisis; it may be an event that hits your industry alone; or it may be something that only affects your company, your team, or you. When you're facing adversity and you tap into the power of your driving principles, you'll be reminded of a power that is always there for you. It's called character. And if it's so powerful during a crisis, why aren't you tapping into it every day? Maybe you are. It's time to put these powers into action, day in and day out. It's time to build character. This is one of the things that separates me from most other brand strategists – I believe that brand is character and character is brand. Character is rooted in the Greek charassein, meaning "to sharpen, cut in furrows, or engrave." This word gave the Greeks charakter, a noun meaning "mark, distinctive quality." At its core, character is the indelible mark that is chiseled into a lasting surface formed by deeply instilled drivers. Your character acts as a magnetic beacon to those who see, experience and are drawn in by the unique qualities of your character. Character can act as a repellent, too. Those with contrasting moral compasses will be repelled by your character. Think about all the customers who scurried away from brands that were exposed by issues of integrity or scandal. Character is how you treat someone when they aren't ready to give you anything in return. That's what a customer is before they become a customer. It's what a friend is before they are your friend. A brand is the central organizing and operating system of the business. It's the center-point that defines how you innovate, how you work together, how you treat the people inside and outside of your organization. Your brand character defines how you see and interact with the world. The beautiful thing about knowing and activating your clarified beliefs is that they are always there for you – during the rough times and the good. When your purpose, vision, mission, promise and values are known and lived, you and your team can work with a firm and uniform character that will show up every day. Some brand character questions to consider… • Can you tell others, within and beyond your company walls, about what you stand for, in a way they'll care to retell it? • When your company is facing adversity, do you know what values and principles you stand on, to help you rise to the occasion? • When your business transitions out of crisis, how can you build on the character that pulled you through? • What is that you aspire to be known for, in the good times and amidst the challenges? • Are you living up to your fullest potential as a leader, culture and company through your character? Your character is the magnetic pull that attracts people to align themselves with your business, work and life. Your goal in business shouldn't be to manipulate the public into buying your products or services. It should be to amplify your branded character in order to attract those who value what you value. Do this in the good times and the bad, and you'll have a consistent, reliable, and trusted brand. YOUR BRAND IS YOUR CHARACTER Steven Morris is a brand, culture and leadership advisor, author, and speaker. Over his 25+ years in business he's worked with 3,000+ business leaders at 250+ global and regional companies. Discover: RO –

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