August 31, 2008

In Trust We Brand

Branding's for sissies!

Whilst polite colleagues rarely put in in those terms, it's evident that many business owners consider branding as being on the fluffier side of commercial practice.

Otherwise, it would be a given part of every business plan, rather than something that's often tagged on only when an enterprise doesn't seem to be making the right impression or is losing ground to strongly-branded competitors.

I've written elsewhere of the real impact a brand has on business success, not only in terms of market share, but on the costs of doing business. For example, I've suggested that a strong brand relationship relieves the business-owner of the pressures and costs (financial and otherwise) of being perfect. However, much of what I've written has relied on my own experience or anecdotal evidence from our own customers rather than independent research backed up by numbers.

Well, The Speed of Trust, a recent book by Stephen M.R. Covey seems to offer the backup that I've been looking for. I haven't read the book yet but heard Stephen talk about it at length on the always-useful Duct Tape Marketing Podcast.

Stephen says that the speed and cost of our transactions with customers are always affected by the levels of trust that lie between us and that there is both a trust tax and a trust dividend depending on those levels. His research shows that companies that enjoy high levels of trust (with stakeholders, colleagues and customers) outperform others where suspicion reigns by almost three to one. Now those are impressive numbers.

I like Stephen's use of the terms 'tax and dividend' as I find that it draws a notion that can be dismissed as soft across to the harder edge of business. I've always been a big fan of the writing of Stephen's dad, Stephen R. Covey, in particular The Seven Habits Of Effective People; so am looking forward to reading how he builds on that in The Speed of Trust.

In the meantime, if any of my readers have got to the book ahead of me, I'd love to hear what you make of it.

For you know what they say: 'When the going gets tough, the tough get branding.'

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