Elite Agent - - CONTENTS - Ali­son McGavin

Our brands are no longer based on the sto­ries we tell peo­ple, or the im­age that we’ve painted on the out­side of our of­fices. In this world of in­stant in­for­ma­tion, our brand is now our cor­po­rate cul­ture. Ali­son McGavin ex­plains.

2017 was a big year and one that con­firmed that there is noth­ing more cer­tain than death and taxes… and change. And change has well and truly ar­rived.

Bear with me while I skirt around a few big-ticket items in or­der to set the scene.

Hol­ly­wood. I’m sure 100 per cent of us can say that our opin­ions of Hol­ly­wood as a busi­ness have dras­ti­cally changed over the past 12 months. Why? Be­cause it’s no longer the world of glitz and glam­our that it has been painted to be. We’ve had real in­sight into what goes on, what sto­ries are told, and what com­plaints have been laid.

One of the big­gest changes that di­rectly af­fects us and how we now need to op­er­ate is the fact that, th­ese days, our busi­ness is a glass box; what­ever hap­pens in­side, the world can see. And there is an ever-present pub­lic ex­pec­ta­tion that they de­serve to know what’s hap­pen­ing on the in­side.

In a sur­vey of over 10,000 con­sumers from around the world, 78 per cent said it is “some­what or very im­por­tant for a com­pany to be trans­par­ent”. And 70 per cent said that “th­ese days I make it a point to know more about the com­pa­nies I buy from” (Havas, Fe­bru­ary 2016).

In ad­di­tion to those stats, Cone Com­mu­ni­ca­tions con­ducted a study in which 70 per cent of mil­len­ni­als stated they’re will­ing to spend more with brands that sup­port causes close to their hearts.

We know now that, be­cause con­tem­po­rary in­ter­nal cul­ture is cus­tomer-fac­ing, this must form an in­te­gral part of your brand. Think: Hol­ly­wood (#metoo), Google (we all want to work there, right? Why? Be­cause of the amaz­ing of­fice space). Think: Uber (ris­ing sex­ism claims), TOMS (buy one, give one shoe brand) and Chobani (paid parental leave for all em­ploy­ees). The good, the bad and the ugly – it all counts and it’s right out there for all to see.

Cul­ture is both your big­gest mar­ket­ing tool and the most pow­er­ful brand li­a­bil­ity.

Com­plaints or at­tacks on com­pany cul­ture are bound to hap­pen; it’s not this that will ruin cul­ture, but rather the way that th­ese com­plaints are dealt with. Make sure that your re­sponse is so good that, even when con­sumers see dam­ag­ing or un­pleas­ant as­pects of your cul­ture, they will stand by you.

Ac­cord­ing to the Aus­tralian Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion, char­ac­ter­is­tics of a good in­ter­nal com­plaints process are: 1. Fair – both sides get to tell their story and are given the same air-time. The per­son in­ves­ti­gat­ing needs to re­main im­par­tial. 2. Con­fi­den­tial – need-to-know

ba­sis. 3. Trans­par­ent – out­line the com­plaints process to all par­ties in­volved and let them know what they can ex­pect. Keep all par­ties up to date and in­volved. 4. Ac­ces­si­ble – all par­ties should be able to ac­cess the in­for­ma­tion and un­der­stand the in­for­ma­tion. Dif­fer­ent lan­guage will be re­quired for dif­fer­ent re­cip­i­ents. 5. Ef­fi­cient – re­solve com­plaints quickly. Do not pro­cras­ti­nate. Any un­re­solved com­plaints will leave a neg­a­tive and on­go­ing im­pact on your work­place.

Take some time to re­view your in­ter­nal poli­cies and pro­cesses. Does the real-life sce­nario match the pic­ture you’re paint­ing, and what will you do if you re­ceive a com­plaint?

Cul­ture is both your big­gest mar­ket­ing tool and the most pow­er­ful brand li­a­bil­ity.

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