5 Reasons Why You Need A Clear, Corporate Vision

All companies should have a corporate vision, whether a one man band or a large multinational. Sadly, not all companies do, although you can usually tell those that don’t. They tend to be not quite as successful or slick as those companies who have taken time to create and share their vision. Those companies without one might, if they are lucky, be successful in spite of themselves – but only temporarily so. Companies sustaining growth and success, tend to have clarity about business direction. They tend to better understand the dynamics of their marketplace and their position within it.

Lacking in more ways than one, companies without vision are vulnerable. They tend to be slow to react to changes in the market place and in today’s challenging times, who can afford to be like that? If an innovation occurs, a recession lingers or a competitor or new entrant is biting at their heals, then it can be very hard to retain or claw back market position.

Those companies who have not thought clearly about their direction aren’t really fit for purpose. Whereas those with an up to date vision, one which has perhaps organically evolved from the original, tend to be more successful: leaner, fitter and more attuned to the market in which they operate.

Keeping a vision up to date is really important. It’s not really good enough to keep wheeling out an old tired vision that had relevance when the company was first established, many moons ago. The trouble is many may start with one, but somewhere along the line they forget what it was that first ignited the entrepreneurial flame.
Oh, everybody can spout the company mission statement, but it loses relevance as market forces change.

So what are the five key facts that you need to know about vision?

No 1 – Having a corporate vision is empowering and increases the chances of business success. This sets the parameters for the company’s business operations and its growth and development.

No 2 – Vision enables staff to react to commercial opportunities and to innovate where appropriate. It ensures relevance in different market places and gives staff permission to develop and explore.

No 3 - Vision is not a static mission statement, but a statement of intent that, over time, organically adjusts to the way a target audience evolves. The essence of the vision may remain the same and its very definition should not constrict but enable.

No 4 – Great vision tends to lead to a stronger brand definition. Customers tend to have a clearer understanding of the brand, a healthier interaction with it and greater brand loyalty.

No 5 – All business stakeholders should be clear about a company vision. It should not be something dreamed up by senior management and kept within a board room. Ideally, vision should be created by staff, clients and stakeholders. Everybody should get where the company is coming from and indeed, going to!

The time is right to define or revisit your corporate vision. Make sure that it is appropriate for the present and the future and that it has relevance to your company, your target audience and to your staff.


The Davids and Goliaths of Retailing

Recent news from retailers has been dire. Christmas and Sales figures have disappointed and following the demise of brands such as Currys, we have witnessed the death throes of major retailers such as HMV and Jessops, although there are plans to rescue some element of these two once loved brands.

So what’s gone wrong? Yes there is a recession (double-dipped, triple-dipped, infinity-dipped as far as we know); economies around the world are struggling and yes, consumers (and businesses) are thinking twice before purchasing. But why do internet outlets fair better? And why, despite the increasing number of boarded up shops around the country, are independents surviving whilst major brands fail?

I suggest that in the past two decades of increasing retail concentration and global super brands, that somewhere along the line, major retailers have lost the plot!  In their drive for increased market share and reduced costs, many retailers have failed to keep in touch with what their customers want. Often, this ingredient is simple. Consumers want relevant products, good value (at any price point) and more often as not, they want good reliable service. Providing this, it seems, is becoming beyond the reach of many retailers.

I’ve been in Jessops a couple of times over the past years and have had to wait for quite a long time for the admittedly knowledgeable, sales assistants attention. 45 minutes later, I want to purchase the item of my choice and find there is no stock. On other occassions, I’ve ordered in the desired item to find that on collecting said item the shop has given it to someone else. I am not surprised they’ve gone bust, the writing was on the wall.

Similarly, the much loved and once iconic HMV failed to keep in touch with its customers. Failed to extrapolate its product range and develop its customer experience.

On the other hand, small independents have had to survive by being customer focused and tuned in to customer needs. It would seem that the Goliaths still have something to learn from the Davids of the retail world.



The Grown Up Brand – The Real Meaning of Brand Value

The Grown Up Brand – The Real Meaning of Brand Value

In the old days a brand was as big as the vision of its management team. Brands could boldly go where they wanted and marketers could tightly control how a particular brand was seen. In some cases, a brand was distinctly hampered by both a lack of corporate vision and a failure to appreciate the feelings of the marketplace.

However, things have changed in our world. Information is instantaneously available, delivered through the highly effective medium of social media. We can sympathise with the Japanese victims of a Tsunami, get behind those fighting for greater freedoms in The Arab Spring and globally engage in The Olympics like never before.

People have greater empathy with others across the world and our personal vision and experience is sharper than ever before. The Grown Up Brand has to take account of all of these changes. It is no longer isolated and controlled only by a team of managers, but part of the real world, in which we live, tightly connected to the pulse of its target audience and to global changes too. The Grown Up Brand has to take not only responsibility for the here and now, but be mindful of the future and of the brand footprint on the planet.

A client with whom we are working on a new project personified this recently. As we were working on brand creation, he decided that it was only right and proper that this new brand expand its raison d’etre from an online art shop, to encompass the support of young artistic talent worldwide. We didn’t force this value on him, but he felt that as an entrepreneur, it was beholden on him and the brand he was creating to be socially supportive to struggling youngsters. Well done him! Needless to say, it is a pleasure to work with someone who appreciates the power of The Grown Up Brand.

From medical marketing to consumer goods, brands that will survive will need to be globally aware and responsible, even when working in local markets.