We live in an era of hyper-connectivity and information overload. Stakeholders are bombarded with messages every moment of the day. This crowded and cluttered marketplace has not only made stakeholders more informed, it has also made them more demanding about what they expect when they interact with brands and corporations. Communicating corporate and brand values has become key to engaging the market today.
In the “State of Corporate Reputation in 2020: Everything Matters Now” report, the global executives surveyed attribute 63 percent of their company’s market value to their company’s reputation. Additionally, 8 out of 10 global executives across regions think that the CEO should be the key communicator of the organisation’s values.
In fact, brands will find it a challenge to sell products if their key communicators can’t get the brand story across to the marketplace while companies won’t be able to establish a credible reputation in the market if they are unable to win over their stakeholders positively. At a company level, leaders who can’t articulate the organisation’s dreams will not inspire action from the team members.
As the CEO is the “face” of the organisation, stakeholders want to know who the CEO is and what her or his values are. Reality is: “Leadership is Communication and Communication is Leadership”. You can’t separate one from another.
Branding is no longer just about image and creatives. It’s about manifesting authentic brand values across all stakeholder touch points:
Stakeholders want to know how brands and organisations are prioritising people, purpose and partnerships in addition to profits.
CEOs must be able to articulate the brand’s position on issues and take the lead in implementing appropriate actions.
As such, CEOs need to be able to engage with stakeholders – both internal and external. This is becoming more crucial with rising expectations on brands to make a stand on social issues. CEOs today need to be able to carefully craft a powerful and authentic brand story.
Over the years, Perspective Strategies has had the opportunity to coach many corporate/brand spokespersons in the art of crafting the corporate and brand narrative. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
Here are very important Dos and Don’ts to remember:
“Non-verbal” communication, such as tone or body language, is very important as well. The Mehrabian Communication Model highlighted that body language accounts for as much as 55% of the perception of a person’s message, while tone accounts for up to 38%. Actual words only make up of about 7% of influence on your audience! Things can take a bad turn if your audience perceives that your non-verbal communication is contradicting your words.
In these trying times, the ability of a CEO to genuinely represent brand story may just be the most powerful tool in your engagement with stakeholders. As stakeholders judge organisations by the values they hold, they will also judge the way CEOs communicate those values. The cost of not being able to tell a compelling brand story can be too high for an organisation or brand.
Preparing the CEO to tell the brand story well is key to inspiring audiences and turning them into passionate advocates in these new market conditions.
Andy See is the Founder and Managing Director of Perspective Strategies, a strategic communications and issues management consultancy. He is also the President of the Public Relations and Communications Association of Malaysia (PRCA Malaysia) and Regional Vice President (Asia Pacific) for Public Relations Global Network.
This article was first published in the Public Relations Global Network Blog.
Many perceive branding to be about logos, taglines and promoted narratives. In the age of the empowered consumer, with easily accessible information, your brand is no longer what you say it is.