The days of advertising-led brands are dead. A shift from monologue to dialogue has occurred. No longer can a company say one thing and do another. People want brands they can trust. Violate that trust and they won’t just flee, they’ll rebel.
People’s buying decisions are largely driven by brands which embody values that reflect their own. In other words, consumers aren’t buying the products that they like. They’re seeking out the brands that are like them. They’re choosing brands whose meaning reflects their own sense of identity, making a statement about who they are, and what they stand for. By choosing one brand over another, consumers are creating their own personal narrative, “This is who I am.” It is, in essence, a shared reality between company and consumer.
Beliefs and values combine to drive actions, both inside and outside the organization.
Different brands tell different stories. Consumers connect with brands that align with their beliefs, values, and sense of self. By combining these stories consumers form a mosaic, which expresses what they believe in. Whether they know it or not, consumers shop not only for goods and services, but for the meaning behind those purchases.
Given how fast competitors can copy one another, brand value is moving from features and benefits to an expression of the companies beliefs and values, giving context and added relevance to the offering. It’s about creating a personal connection between consumer and consumed. Therefore, employees must live the values of the brand in order to deliver an authentic brand experience. Over time, beliefs and values decentralize decision making, by becoming the company’s culture. This ethos provides employees with an understanding of how it should act. Beliefs lived inside the company drive consumer experience outside the company. Consumers are attracted to the meaning embedded in those actions because it is relevant to their own identity.
On the flip side of the equation, employees are more effective when they’re emotionally invested in the brand’s greater purpose. Organizations that provide employees with greater emotional engagement, attract and retain not only better talent but people who understand and live the brand. It is these employees who cultivate ideas and deliver the brand to the public, not an ad campaign or PR push. It’s the people within the organization.
What does your brand stand for? Are those values helping people stand for something that matters to them or is your brand simply a facade?
“To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; to be credible we must be truthful.”
– Edward R. Murrow