Don’t settle for a so-so personal or corporate brand
Uplevel and be a LDRBRND instead
What’s the difference you may ask?
Here it is:
- I am asking people to elevate
- To adhere to a higher moral standard
- To be marketing ethicists
- That is way different than simply having a brand that exists to sell people products and services.
- It extends to a much deeper level.
- It inspires people to a higher calling.
- It asks people to consider the footprints they leave behind
It is a yearning to be more, love more, do more, and serve more. It creates a passion within people that is not easily extinguished. Rather, it helps people to persevere for the long haul. That is what I am asking people to aspire to.
To accept responsibility for our actions and our marketing that goes beyond the first level impact and considers the next steps. How does our brand reach beyond the immediacy of now? How do we affect people locally and globally for the long term.
I can’t demand this of anyone. I simply invite people along on this journey of LDRBRND with me. It’s not simply for my benefit but to benefit others far beyond my own reach.
What if we dreamed for a moment about what our brands could be far into the future?
Would it be something we could be proud of?
Would Our great grandchildren carry our legacies forward for future generations?
It certainly is interesting to ponder these things. We don’t know what the future will hold. The technology and business environment changes are coming so rapidly. We can’t plan for that. But we can be rooted in a sense of morality and ethics that drives a brand to act with integrity and for the good of more than the brand.
For me, those ideas of ethics are rooted in my own Christian faith. I grew up with them as a kid. My parents taught me as much as they could and as best they could. They brought us to church to reinforce those ideas.
Even though I stepped away from my faith for a long time (nearly ten years), those ideas brought me back from a very dark place of alcoholism, depression, and suicide. And now they have been the basis of not only my existence as a person but my very ability to love others and create positive change in this world.
But how do we do affect change in this world and still hold the line when it comes to ethics?
First, we as LDRBRNDs have to be invested in our own moral compass. Whatever your belief system, there has to be a familiarity with what it means to behave in an ethical manner (personally and professionally). I don’t know if this is the case as much these days, but in college I had at least one business ethics course.
This course at least presented us with some ideas to make us consider all the implications of what it means to do business in this era. But I doubt it is enough for most people to have one required class at university. It is too easily forgotten in the day to day.
Rather, it has to be something we have to practice and educate ourselves on with regularity – even on a day to day basis. Because the truth is we are all susceptible to ethical failings if we don’t strive towards a higher standard. Sitting still in this area just means we are sliding backwards.
That’s not what I want for myself or for all of you! But we can’t do it without a proactive approach. It is only with acting intentionally and with diligence that we avoid falling into that trap.
I recently heard a podcast (can’t remember which) that mentioned UBER and all of its ethical failings that lead to the CEO’s ouster. It seems that the problem could be traced back to this one thought:
Win at all costs
That is scary to think of. But essentially, that is competition taken to the very extreme. Not that there is anything wrong with a healthy amount of competition. Simon Sinek in The Infinite Game talks about having a “worthy rival” that pushes us to be better and hold us to a higher standard.
That is very different than the competition that pushes us to have lower standards, cut corners, and treat people less than the way they should be treated. And it seems that this culture failing came straight from the top of the company. We can’t simply turn a blind eye to injustice, inequality, and unethical treatment of people (within and outside the company).
So as a LDRBRND, we have to be ever on our guard for these scenarios. And the best way we can do this is by continually learning what it means to be ethical. Whether that is taking actual college courses, reading books, listening to podcasts, or getting together with people to discuss and learn from each other physically; it just has to happen.
The stakes are too high. We can’t abdicate this responsibility. It is ours and we take it seriously. We push the envelope to be more ethical. That’s a race to the top and a race worth winning. It’s a position that raises the brand, the employees, the customers, and all the other stakeholders.
It also creates an external pressure for competitors to raise the standard of operation. Then we raise the whole industry. What a dream and what an ambition worth pursuing! Changing the tenor of business is difficult. It is a long term play.
But aren’t all the really valuable and worthwhile plays exactly this same way?
They require people of vision and integrity
They require people with strength of character and resolve
They require people of dedication and persistence
They require a calling to a higher standard and people to show the way
They require people who are not easily frightened and not prone to giving up
There is a way forward for brands and people to uphold virtue and still thrive financially. I’d argue that it is really the only way. The companies who choose shortcuts and dubious tactics that take advantage of people risk quite a lot going forward.
We are more connected than ever and the ubiquity of social media means brands can erode trust completely over night.
But brands can also build trust, earn respect, and create positive PR by doing the “right thing.” I’m thinking here of a story I read recently about Krispy Kreme donuts. They initially brought the hammer down (legally) on some college kid who was buying donuts and then reselling them the next state over (Minnesota I believe).
They quickly realized the error of their ways through the media backlash. They retracted the overly harsh treatment and decided to work with the kid. Krispy Kreme was well within their rights legally to order the cease and desist.
But was it the right thing to do? Nope. The reason why:
It lacked empathy and humanity
That is where we all need to be getting to. How can we increase those virtues? It’s not easy and it requires training and experience. Kudos to whoever was at Krispy Kreme and figured that out. They turned that potential negative scenario into a net positive.
Fortunately, it was not a serious ethical failing. That would have been much harder to turn around. It could have gone that way.
And here’s something we have to keep in mind:
The larger the brand, the harder it will be to keep up moral and ethical standards
That’s why it has to start at the top (and with us as LDRBRNDs). I’ve said this a lot but it still bears repeating:
An ethical culture cannot begin at the bottom, the inertia is simply to great. But when leaders step up and say: “this is how we act/behave and do business”, they become those standard bearers. They are carrying that flag, raising it high, and reinforcing the message daily, weekly, monthly, and at every opportunity they can.
They know it is a long slog. But the moment the leader chooses not carry that banner forward is the moment the brand begins to slip back. It is a serious responsibility. One not everyone can handle (or even should handle). Leadership and being a LDRBRND is hard. It’s not for the faint of heart. And it will require max effort.
But I feel up to the challenge and I believe you are up to it as well!
Lead on LDRBRND!
I’ve been helping leaders become better marketers for over 21 years and would love to help you take the next step in your spiritual leadership journey.