Our Principles Drive Our Leadership
So what do we stand for?
What we stand for helps us to stand out as a leader in our respective fields.
When we lead in the marketplace we don’t need as many ad dollars for our marketing.
If we aren’t leading, we are losing. The world is too noisy to be a part of the crowd.
So how are we building leadership into our branding and marketing?
It has to start from within. It has to start from the top. It has to be a brand practice even when it is hard. It has to be a topic of conversation all the time. It has to have accountability.
We associate leadership with principles such as:
- The ability to ask hard questions
- The ability to not have all the answers
- The ability to seek the answers
This is not an exhaustive list. But those general qualities are something that is lacking these days in the market. But when we see it, we feel it. It stands out. It resonates on a deep and emotional level. It creates a desire to share the message.
Leadership is the present and future of marketing.
Without leadership, our businesses or brands aren’t going to thrive. Leadership based marketing (LBM) is what I call it. It is the premise for everything that I do and everything that I teach.
What are the values first? Without those values, our leadership is going to crumble. It’s not going to stand up to the challenges. It’s not going to stand up to the ever-changing business environment. It’s not going to connect with employees, customers, and partners.
Values create the foundation for us to be flexible and adaptable in our approach. Not that we bend our standards. Our stances, values, and principles remain firm. But the way that we apply those values changes. Application is key.
Leadership gives us the strength and courage to carve out our own paths.
This is far superior to taking the easy road of mimicry and commodity. Competitors can duplicate products and services with ease. They can even steal ideas outright and circulate them as their own across the globe.
But values are difficult. Values reach into the deepest part of our humanity. Values are not words but actions. So people notice it. They feel it. They also get it when a brand is hollow. The actions don’t follow the words. They are frauds, phonies, hucksters, and hypocrites. That won’t get rewarded in the market. In fact, consumers will punish hypocrisy with bad press and lower sales. This could even lead to the ultimate death of the brand.
What DOESN’T stand out in the market
Think about our typical utilities:
- phone service
- internet service
We can think of brands in the market place. It’s usually limited to the ones that we use. Maybe a few more.
Here’s the issue:
They are in total commodity businesses. The expectation is for the product/service to work. The only times we even notice is when things AREN’T working.
That is no excuse for being unremarkable.
That’s the case for most of the brands operating in this space. They choose to simply deliver the product or service. Sometimes they do it well. Often times not. They mistakenly believe they can build brand loyalty and connection with their customers by being there, having a competitive price, and similar features/benefits.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. They have made themselves wholly indistinguishable from all their competitors. They’re not brands that are remarkable. There’s nothing noteworthy about them. We have no idea what their values are.
When we don’t see or feel a difference, we will naturally default to picking the cheapest, most convenient option available. We can easily replace one utility with another.
That isn’t leadership. That isn’t leading with values. That doesn’t get rewarded in the marketplace. And they have to spend millions of dollars advertising to stay ahead of the churn rate (the number of customers switching).
Some utilities even tout their great customer service as a core value. But is it lived out when they send customers through an endless maze to solve problems? Do we feel it when we interact with bored, grumpy, apathetic, and clueless customer service representatives? Do we feel it when the brand is willing to just let us walk away without a fight? Do we feel great customer service when our loyalty is never rewarded? Certainly not!
Here’s what we can learn from the missteps of utilities (and other brands):
We can build deeper connection, community, and loyalty when we lead with values.
When we lead with what we stand for, we make those values the priority. Then those values permeate the entire company, the culture, and the brand. It becomes something that is front and center. It becomes something that felt by the customer in every interaction.
When we have that, we’re able to rise above the cacophony of messaging that assaults the modern consumer from every angle.
When we have that we are able to withstand the storms, the ups and downs, and the cyclical nature of business. When we weather the storms (global recessions or smaller events), our brands and businesses are better positioned to bounce off the bottom and ignite a new era of growth.
Or we can be like utilities and choose NOT to stand out by being profoundly uninteresting and unknown.
What DOES stand out
What happens when someone hears, reads or sees our brand’s name?
What do they immediately think of?
How do we evoke a feeling?
What images, sounds, words, smells, or tastes come to mind?
How are we tapping into that sense of purpose and passion where people want to be a part of something greater than themselves?
That is what unites strong communities. When we stand for something we build an emotional bond. That bond builds trust. Trust creates and nurtures a community. This is something I write about a lot because it’s that important.
Leadership fosters relationships and community.
Community is the foundation for success for any brand or business.
Look at some of the amazing brands that have done this:
- Warby Parker
- Toms Shoes
- Charity Water
- Clif Bar
Warby Parker’s basic premise of buying a pair of glasses, give a pair of glasses to someone in need catapulted them into a place of prominence in an industry that had been monopolized/
Toms shoes is a similar story with shoes
Charity Water has unified and rallied people around an incredible purpose of providing something very basic to people across the globe
Clif Bar and it’s “Make It Good” pledge connects people around sustainability
Many more companies are becoming purpose driven and conscientious of their impact beyond the bottom line. That is the current market we live in. We can tie into that. Not in a disingenuous way. But in a way that is already built into the DNA of the company, the culture, and the brand. So that when people see the logo, they immediately think of the brand and what it stands for.
Then they want to be a part of that larger purpose and mission. They want to spread the word and they want to help shape the future of that. They will go out of their way. When what we stand for aligns with what our customers stand for, we create much tighter bonds. That is a better strategy than the race to the bottom to see who can provide the same goods and services for the lowest amount possible.
That is a place that we don’t want to ever be. That’s a race that’s not worth winning. The race to the top is different. That’s a race to see who can stand for something incredibly important, create a community around it, and then deliver value on an emotional level.
- Personally, I stand for:
- Being an encourager
- Being generous
- Being courageous
- Lifting up kids in dire circumstances (my wife and I adopted our children out of the foster care system)
- Putting out art
Putting my writing into the world – despite the fact I may not see immediate feedback or results.
Even if it takes a long time, I’ll do it anyway. It’s worth it.
That’s another thing that I want to stand for: being around for the long term, thinking about the long term picture, long term strategy.
What am I going to be doing in 5, 10, 15, or even 20 years from now? What is it that I’m going to leave behind for my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren? These are the thoughts that continually occupy my mind. It was the impetus for my leaving a corporate job to be part of this generation of entrepreneurs.
So what are the principles driving our leadership and creating incredibly powerful marketing for our brands?
Thanks so much for reading today!
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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.