Our guest today, Allen Adamson (Metaforce) is an expert in branding and marketing, and co-author of the book “Shift Ahead: How the best companies stay relevant in a fast changing world”.
When performing research for his Forbes column, Allen discovered whether to get involved in political dialogue or not, is one question the marketing department should pass on. Marketers are trying to figure out what customers think is right, and in a divisive political climate, asking customers is a difficult prospect because you’re going to disenchant a certain portion of your customers regardless of the stance. Allen suggests looking inside, rather than outside. Patagonia for example, has clearly defined values, and they are self-aware enough to be able to step out and express them. This made it easy, when national parks were threatened, to buy them up and have a clear point of view. This also tied in nicely with the fact they sell outdoor gear. Unfortunately, other companies develop values in a different time and place, where the words are very nice but they don’t express how they should act. Get your employees aligned, and find out what matters to them.
Expressing company values has to be a genuine, authentic and long term effort. It has to be strategically thought through, and implemented over the long term – not a knee jerk reaction. That is why Patagonia comes across as authentic. It’s been a twenty year effort; protecting the environment through recycling clothing, how they ship clothing etc. It’s a multi-faceted effort across everything they do. They live those values. The employees are also real believers in the values of the company. Sometimes that even means turning down big opportunities that don’t align with your values.