7 June 2004

The Spirit of the Business

The critical moment has come for leaders to ground the spirit of the brand into the mechanics of the business. They need to bring the suggestive power of the brand�s myth over to the people in its organization or network involved with its delivery to the consumer, all the way through its delivery process. The power of the brand needs to radiate at every touch point. Many consumers are overwhelmed with choices, made even more difficult now, because brands no longer provide the relationship expected previously.

Brands are now technology driven. Consumers want brands that are technology enabled, but consumer and service driven. The spirit of the brand feeds its network of relationships � no food and those relationships die. Has anybody noticed? The accountant may notate that quotas have not been met, or that clients have disappeared off the spreadsheet. They see consumers as data, numbers, not as relationships.

We have all become participants in the world of brands. What�s missing is that we find ourselves shut out of the organization that delivers the brand � an afterthought, so to speak. It seems that as far as they�re concerned, we�re hostages in their data banks. How can we have a relationship with a machine?

As consumers, we have been inundated with too much information and can simply no longer discern the differences or hear the shout of the sale above the cacophony of the competition. Maybe it�s the other way around, and the organization doesn�t hear us either. Maybe the organization needs to find new listening instruments to hear our call � call centers certainly haven�t been the answer. Either way, it seems that neither side is very pleased, nor aligned. We no longer resonate in relationship with each other.

The informed leaders ask their consultants, �What is the spirit of the business?� Those very consultants spend millions tracking, researching and gathering more data in their expensive CRM programs. Those very consultants never answer that key question, but they can tell you how much the customer spent, where they shopped, what products they bought. This information is important, but it�s forsensic knowledge. The spirit of the business has products, services, investments, real estate, virtual space, and a wealth of interests created by people who live the brand in ways that the organization has yet to recognize. What are the steps that the business must take to create a path for the consumers to bring the spirit of the brand back into the business of the brand?

This opens a new discussion � about branding, accounting, CRM, shareholder value, and customer relationship value. We begin with asking the right questions, new questions. Questions like �How can we bring the power of relationship into the accountability of a brand�s value?� �How can we identify new ways of organizing the business to deliver brand value at every point where the business demands money value in return?�

The spirit of the brand drives the mechanics of the brand. The brand, the business, and the organization need to function as a whole, connected to its creative source � it�s people. We need to tap into the power of meaning. We need to search for platforms of meaning that create significance and value at all levels.

The question of the day should be �How can we ground the spirit of the brand into the mechanics of making the business happen?� People need to see, hear, feel, taste, and smell how the brand awakens a sense of participation within its organization. That suggestive power of the spirit of the brand will pervade each person, motivate them, give them the space to contribute that unique part of themselves with purpose. They will reconnect with the consumer and not see them as an interference with their work.

This grants power to the brand�s relationships with at every touch point � at every experience created by this engagement. It requires emotional intelligence � at the heart of successful teams and individuals. Teams with high EI are based on true cooperation and collaboration, which establishes mutual trust, group identity, and a sense of being able to make a valuable difference as a group. These are essential ingredients needed to assure a team's effective performance. What emerges from this behavior is new ways, new platforms of common interest, and new common practices.

It�s time for the leaders of these brands to make a new commitment. Stretch the mind of the brand to make room for the heart of the brand. This requires new thinking, new stimulation, and new scenarios.

Simulate and stimulate. The brand has a conscience, and the business needs to realize its corporate consciousness. The consumer wants more than just a financial relationship with a brand. Why not ask them?

If you want something really important to be done, you must not merely satisfy the reason, you must move the heart also.
- Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)

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