No “love”, but no “hate” either

brand, character

If you have a strong brand and communicate with your audience in an assertive way, you will stand out. You will have customers who love you. You may even have prospects and other consumers who love you but are not ready to buy.

You will also have people who don’t like you. That’s okay.

It doesn’t matter if everyone likes you, or wants to buy your products – but it is important that everyone respect your company. You must protect your brand. Everything you do, or don’t do is an investment in that brand, so it’s critical that you and your employees always act in accordance with the brand’s values and the processes laid out to ensure alignment of brand values and daily actions.

If you…

  • Act with integrity in all dealings,
  • Respect your customers, employees, suppliers and other stakeholders and deal with them fairly,
  • Contribute positively to your community, and
  • Minimize the negative impact you have on the environment,

… you will be respected for your strength of character. Maybe not liked by all, but certainly respected and less likely to be vilified (rightly or wrongly) in the press or social media – something which can sound the death knell for lesser companies these days.

For many organizations, it’s the first bullet point that causes the most confusion and consternation.

Acting with Integrity in All Dealings

Acting with integrity includes being forthright in your pricing. All too frequently I find myself looking at the tags on items that have been deeply-discounted and wondering if the “regular” price is indeed the price that is normally posted for the item that’s on sale.

The last time I was in the grocery store, I noticed that the amount shown as the “regular price” for my favorite tea was higher than I had remembered it being the previous week. Luckily, the grocery receipt was still in my purse. I checked and discovered that it had indeed been eighty cents less a few days before.

There’s no doubt that this little trick enabled the grocer to show a much more compelling amount next to “You Saved”. It likely even lead to greater sales volumes. What to do for me? It changed my view of this retailer. In one small keystroke, the store went from being a trusted local “go to” place to being one that I no longer really trust

I mentioned the discovery to a friend. Her response: “They must think we’re stupid. Or unobservant. Either way, it’s as though they’re treating us as adversaries.”

With that she pulled out a recently-purchased candle and exclaimed, “I bought this because it’s cute and was only two blocks. I saw the $13.99 “original price” and laughed. With a Dollarama down the street, could the manager have been so naïve as to believe her customers would actually be hoodwinked?” Not the way any company wants to be talked about buying its regular patrons.

I spoke with one CEO not long ago who believed that his company was “not out of integrity” provided that raw materials were sourced fairly and that child labour was not used its manufacturing. When I suggested that all actions and policies needed to be similarly aligned for the company’s values to be aligned, he seemed genuinely surprised. Yet it’s true.

You can do many of the important things correctly, but if you have some missteps that cause your clients’ faith to waver, it can undermine and even erase the credibility built in other areas.

The same holds true for you and your personal brand. Character always wins out.

Doing what’s right may mean making the occasional tough call, but at the end of the day you’ll never lose your self-respect, and your company will never lose business for acting with integrity.

“The only conquests which are permanent and leave no regrets are our conquests over ourselves”.  ~ Napoleon Bonaparte