7 Sep 2009
I would like to draw your attention to a post written by Blair Currie the CEO of Aegis Media in Japan at http://tinyurl.com/lljhdg . In it he talks about his ten predictions for 2010. But what caught my eye were two points in particular:
Disruption will be the norm. With an abundance of choice, products and services need to be even more extraordinary to stand out and succeed. More attention and reward will be given to those who can find greatness within or outside market norms. The need to be more inventive will make creative destruction the norm rather than the exception. Consequently, effective change agents will be in increasing demand.
Brands will grow up. People will expect brands to do more than simply satisfy their basic needs. Brands will need to appeal higher up Maslov’s Hierarchy of Needs. As a result, brands will take on different roles in society supporting an increasing range and depth of CSR programs.
Both of these have serious implications for thought leadership and how a) one differentiates ones brand and b) the need to position it in such a way that at every level – consumer, government and employees - the company is seen to be striving to deliver to their audiences something of value beyond what they sell and something which aligns with the values and aspirations of society.
It’s what I call the social license to operate which is quite distinct from the regulatory license to operate. Social license to operate signifies going beyond what is required by law. It challenges companies to always go one step further, the extra mile.
Why? Because that is what society has come to expect and that is what consumers are starting to demand of their suppliers of goods and services.
The other reason is that if a crisis hits the company has some sort of responsible brand shield which can, depending on the crisis, to some degree either buy them time or soften the consumer/societal backlash.
What does this all have to do with thought leadership?
Precisely the point that great thought leadership ideas are vested in the values of the company which should these days be inextricably linked to the good of greater society, employees and the community in which the company operates. We’ve all heard the expression ‘No man is an island’. Well no company is an island either.
By understanding the needs, fears and desires of the society in which you operate and specifically those same issues with your direct target audience, you/the company are in a far better position to delivering a thought leadership campaign which hits the mark.
If you’ve seen or had experience of this, please share it with me.
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