There are far too many examples of businesses being forced into damage control mode after decisions on business policies, actions or tactics blow up in their faces. In the internet age, it is wise to assume that there are no secrets from your customers and stakeholders. You need to consider not only how your decisions fit within your overall business strategy but also:(i) how they fit within your brand strategy and (ii) how decision will be perceived by your customer and stakeholders. Consider the damage caused by:
- A newspaper deciding to secretly tap the phones of victims, celebrities and other news story targets.
- A trendy fashion brand deciding to obtain designs by stealing them from small, unknown artists.
- A packaged food brand deciding to lower the salt in its products, market the change massively as a health benefit for its customers, and then when sales flag, revert to original salty formulation.
- A U.S. retailer deciding to charge higher prices in its new Canadian stores, having its Canadian launch mired by angry customers and then retreating, apologizing and altering pricing policy to be in line with U.S. stores and website.
- An online gaming network finding its customer private data hacked, having to shut down its network and later revealing a delay between discovering the customer data theft and its disclosure of the theft.
The wisest organizations have learned about the importance of integrating “brand strategy” and “business strategy” and take great pains not to silo these functions. To set the stage for wise decisions, ensure that:
- Your lead team is involved in both business strategy and brand strategy.
- Development of business strategy and brand strategy are connected.
- Your business strategy and brand strategy (promise, position, personality) are presented in a way that is easy for your entire team to understand from fresh faced intern to CEO.
- Your team keeps your business strategy, brand strategy and your customer in mind when making decisions on policies, actions and tactics.
Case in point, one of our clients — one of the largest pharmaceutical services companies in Canada — followed up their three day annual business strategy off-site with a Distility 1day1brand event in Toronto. They completed the week united at both the business and brand strategy level. They distilled their strategies down to short documents (including their Distility 1Page Brand Strategy) that were easy to communicate to the entire team.
Integrating your strategies and communicating them to your entire team will allow you to avoid being thrust into damage control mode, alienating your target customer and hurting your business. Even better, it will make you a more aligned, authentic, successful business.