Corporate branding in scenarios of uncertainty and constant change

Building a conscious brand starts from an organization's dialogue with its stakeholders, employees, and consumers. Conscious branding enhances corporate reputation and offers a safe harbor in moments of crisis.

Oriol Iglesias

According to the latest edition of the study Approaching the Future 2023 - trends in reputation and intangible management by Corporate Excellence, corporate brand management is the fastest growing trend among professionals managing the intangible assets of organizations. Specifically, 45.1% of companies say they are working on their corporate brand and see it as the main relationship platform for their stakeholders.  

A corporate brand plays a fundamental role in the relationship between organizations and stakeholders and in building corporate reputation. However, for this positive influence to materialize, a brand must be built on solid corporate values that are based on the organization's distinctive skills, and which also inspire consistent behavior among employees. Moreover, corporate brands become relevant when their values are in tune, or largely coincide with the values of the various stakeholders. 

This relevance also involves providing an effective and authentic response to the expectations of stakeholders. Organizations, and therefore brands, cannot act in a disconnected and independent manner from the environment in which they operate. Indeed, the expectations of citizens, as well as those of other stakeholders, are increasingly high.  

A brand is built on strong corporate values, distinctive skills, and employee inspiration

Numerous studies, such as the Trust Barometer, show that citizens expect brands to positively change people's lives and be agents of social change. However, according to a recent study by CANVAS Sustainable Strategies, two out of three citizens still consider that brand positioning is unreal, and almost half doubt that companies can create social and environmental benefits. 

Therefore, there remains a significant gap between stakeholder expectations and the strategy and actions of corporate brands. Brands must embrace their responsibilities beyond making a profit and provide a balanced response to stakeholder expectations. 

As a positive counterpoint, the Approaching the Future 2023 report shows how most companies are already working to integrate corporate purpose into the heart of brand identity (60.6%), as well as linking their brand to issues of general interest (37.7%). Finally, companies are trying to close the gap between rhetoric and action by encouraging the creation of products and services that align with the brand promise (48%).  

The key to success is co-creation and dialogue with stakeholders 

The Approaching the Future 2023 report also shows that corporate communication is the area of intangible asset management on which organizations are working the hardest. Specifically, 52.8% of the professionals surveyed rate this issue as a priority, up 10 points from the 41.7% identified in the previous report.  

Companies working on corporate communication focus on building a narrative centered on purpose and sustainability (45.4%), as well as enhancing internal communication (47.2%). Thus, communication efforts focus on making brand stakeholders aware of the company’s social and environmental commitments, as well as persuading employees to behave in a manner consistent with the brand promise. This is a positive development in the right direction.  

A brand is not owned by the company and must be built with stakeholders, employees, and consumers

However, the future lies in going beyond one-way communication and encouraging a deep and sincere dialogue with the organization's various stakeholders. This journey towards co-creation requires understanding that the brand does not belong to the company, and must be built jointly with its stakeholders, and especially its employees and consumers.  

Co-creation enables the development of better innovations and the provision of solutions that are more relevant and aligned with the expectations of customers and brand stakeholders. However, to be successful, co-creation must encourage more open and transparent corporate cultures, as well as more participative leadership styles

Brands with a conscience  

Organizations that are committed to strategic and integrated management of intangible assets have a safe harbor in moments of crisis. The corporate brand, articulated through corporate purpose and values, is a moral compass that enables organizations to make complex decisions in an agile manner, especially in uncertain times.  

We need brands with a conscience that are true to their purpose, as well as contributing to the improvement of society and the preservation of our planet. We need brands that connect with the needs of the environment and their stakeholders to create shared value. This journey requires forward-thinking professionals with social and contextual intelligence.  

Corporate branding enables organizations to make complex decisions in an agile manner in uncertain times

In short, we need conscious leaders who have the courage to manage in accordance with their values. For this reason, companies must provide their managers with the opportunity to reflect on their individual purpose and train them to heighten their self-awareness. Similarly, it is necessary to strengthen those mechanisms that encourage empathy and compassion.  

Many recent studies show that it is possible to generate profits while contributing to social progress. This is the main challenge facing corporate brands and requires responsible and committed leaders who support more conscious organizational branding. Let’s hope you are one of these leaders that the corporate world needs. 

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