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What does brand integrity mean? And why is it important for businesses to have brand integrity? Do businesses need to be perfect in order to be trustworthy? All this and more in today's episode of Grow Your Brand.
Key discussion points:
1) Who are your stakeholders? 2) What is integrity and why is it important? 3) Understanding the fundamental attribution error 4) Don't let perfectionism stifle your brand 5) The importance of clear communication
A quote to share
"Growing a strong brand is less about being perfect and never getting a customer complaint and more about clearly communicating with each and every stakeholder by understanding their mindset and motivations." - Lauren Kress
We're going to take a look at how to build a positive reputation amongst your key stakeholders by talking about a few universal truths about what motivates human beings.
G'day everyone and welcome back to our third episode of Grow Your Brand, the podcast show where we talk about how to unlock your potential so you can get more out of your life. I'm your host Lauren Kress The Business Scientist and today we're talking about brand integrity and how to build trust amongst your key stakeholders.
And just quickly in case you're not familiar with the term stakeholders, your stakeholders are individuals or groups who are affected by or will affect your brand, your business, your project, your campaign etc - and they exist both outside your business - your external stakeholders and inside your business - your internal stakeholders.
Examples of external stakeholders would be your suppliers, your alliances and your customers. Examples of internal stakeholders would be your virtual assistant, your staff members and your board of directors.
Ok, so what does brand integrity mean?
Generally when we talk about integrity we're talking about people doing what they say and saying what they do - so it's the idea that your actions are aligned with your values, beliefs and attitudes. It's the same thing with brand integrity. For instance does your business deliver on the value it promises to create?
An important thing to keep in mind and something that is less spoken about by brand experts is that in many ways we perceive and judge brands the same way we perceive and judge people. We believe that what people do reflects who they are. So we are less likely to consider the specific situation and circumstance they are in.
This is a cognitive bias known as the fundamental attribution error.
So if someone does something that we deem to be wrong, we can think who they are is a bad person or a bad company.
Like if I met this guy or girl out at a bar and I said that I was single and wanted to go out on a date with them but I'm currently in a relationship, a lot of people would say I was wrong and that I was a bad person - "oh, she's one of those people". But then what if I also told you that I'd just found out, just a few hours before, that my partner had cheated on me with my best friend?
Would you still think I was wrong or bad?
Would you find it easier to understand why I was doing what I was doing in that particular situation? Same action, different judgement, right?
This is really, really important to remember when it comes to building brand trust and demonstrating brand integrity - because brand integrity isn't about being 100% perfect and infallable, 100% of the time - that will drive you nuts and make you be a lot harder on yourself and your business than you need to be.
It also gives less room for experimentation and innovation which are important for keeping our brand relevant as the world rapidly changes.
So instead, when it comes to integrity whether we're talking about a business or a person we need to understand how to contextualise information in relation to the stakeholders we're communicating to.
So we need to understand who we are talking to, what they care about and what biases, assumptions and other influences are acting on the way they perceive us.
As some of you may know, I didn't study marketing or business, I studied science - and more specifically - I studied neuroscience and human behaviour.
This has been a huge advantage for me in brand strategy because the key to demonstrating integrity lies in understanding how people think, judge, assess, decide and act.
Let's say my business promised to launch an upgrade to our app by January 2020 but it didn't come out until May 2020.
It's easy to see how this would damage the businesses reputation amongst several stakeholders including customers, investors and potentially even staff.
Without proper communication this kind of mistake looks really bad.
But what if there was a fair reason - perhaps the person in charge of this launch found out his wife had terminal cancer and asked to work 1-2 days per week. Or what if one of the developers discovered her team could deliver a more valuable upgrade by stretching out the timeline.
And if that was the case - how does the company decide how to behave and what do they need to say to demonstrate their integrity to each stakeholder?
This is what a brand strategist needs to anticipate and think about.
Growing a strong brand is less about being perfect and never getting a customer complaint and more about clearly communicating with each and every stakeholder by understanding their mindset and motivations. And that's what we're going to talk about in our next episode.