It’s widely understood in the business world that a company’s brand is its most important asset. This is because a company’s brand represents the essence of its reputation in the marketplace. How customers, employees, and other stakeholders perceive and engage any particular brand—whether with indifference, contempt, respect, or enthusiasm—has everything to do with its operational success and traded value.
This is why the most valuable companies in the world such as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Alphabet, Facebook, and Berkshire Hathaway are intentional about investing in their brand. That is, they don’t let last quarter’s results dictate the current quarter’s or next quarter’s managerial decisions. A company’s vision, mission, culture, and values are too important to be ‘blown up’ every time a new challenge comes along.
Tesla has come out of almost nowhere to become one of the most successful and valuable companies in the world. Did Elon Musk let a bad quarter here and there get in the way of his dedication and commitment to mainstreaming electric cars? Doesn’t every great story include many tales of difficulty, loss, and failure over the course of time? Certainly, but true leaders learn to overcome adversity and stay true to the who, what, and why.
So, what’s your company brand? As a leader are you building a brand worth following and, moreover, one which is capable of inspiring the next generation of customers and employees? Are you attaching your product and service offering to a cause bigger than your P&L and personal ambitions? Are you somehow making the world a better, safer, and/or healthier place and creating an image in the marketplace that stirs feelings of awe and wonder?
Our country and world are suffering through a pandemic, experiencing social and political strife, and many if not most people are living the reality of an economic recession or worse. On top of that we have global issues such as climate change and the threat of war and terrorism. Clearly, government has a major role to play in addressing these problems, but so does business—and so does your individual company. Good stories and brands can lift hearts and minds.
Take climate change, for example. Rather than being silent or neutral and being perceived as indifferent or complicit, every company CEO can and should say, “We will no longer be part of the problem, starting now we will be part of the solution.” Setting the simple but bold goal of going zero carbon by 2030 can attract, retain, and motivate a new and growing population of Gen Z customers and employees who have both money and intellectual capital to spend.
Every company mentioned above has risen to the calling on climate change. Sustainability, clean energy, and zero carbon are extensions of their brand because they want a reputation of doing the right thing by others. Investments in these areas show integrity and respect for the children and grandchildren of their customers and employees. And nothing achieves loyalty and patronage in the marketplace like companies who think and act authentically in such terms.
Do you need to reimagine your brand for what it could and should be in 2021 and beyond? The 20th century is long gone and it’s time to get on the right side of history on many social and societal issues. Let’s give our country and the world some hope, confidence, and promise.