I'm the father of two sons who are now in their twenties and turning into fine young men. When they were younger, however, I used to call them Butch and Sundance because they always tried to stay one step in front of the law—and that was me!
During those difficult formative years—between the ages of 14 and 18—my oldest, in particular, in an effort to provide cover for his misdeeds, liked to fabricate stories.
I'd say to him, "Son, you and I are going to have a tough time relating to each other because it's hard for me to maintain a relationship with someone I can't trust."
Well, the same holds true for companies, organizations, and institutions of all sizes and stripes.
Trust is the rock-solid foundation upon which all of our successful endeavors, including our brand reputations, are launched and relationships are based.
The fact is your brand is your story, NOT your fairy tale. It should be a true reflection of who you are and what you do, not who you'd like to be and what you'd like to do.
Your brand represents the covenant you make to both internal and external audiences. It describes the arc, or trajectory, your organization is taking to achieve its goals and objectives, why meeting those goals is important to those you serve directly, and why your goals matter to the community at large.
Ask the Hard Questions
Unless examined closely and regularly, however, trust can be elusive. Here are some questions you might consider posing at your next staff or board meeting:
- Do the people we are trying to reach with our products, programs, services, etc.—namely our customers, clients, staff, volunteers, and others—trust us?
- If so, do we know this to be a fact, or is it simply a wishful assumption on our part? If it's simply an assumption, how can we verify it?
- If our clients, customers, staff, volunteers, and others don't trust us, what do we need to do to earn their trust and respect?
- Do we have the right people in the right positions who can accomplish this task for us? If not, are we prepared to make the tough decisions necessary to ensure that we get the right people in place?
- Are we doing everything in our power to create the kind of organizational culture and workplace environment that values, nurtures, encourages, and allows trusting relationships to develop and flourish, both internally and externally?
- If not, what's holding us back?
- Is trust one of our core organizational values and, if it is, are we doing more than paying lip service to it?
Once you have the answers to those questions, your goals and objectives will follow.
Larry Checco, Checco Communications
© 2012, Checco Communications
Larry Checco is president of Checco Communications and specializes in aligning organizational management with brand identity. Larry is also a nationally recognized public speaker, workshop presenter, and consultant on branding and leadership. This article was in part excerpted from his latest book, Aha! Moments in Brand Management: Commonsense Insights to a Stronger, Healthier Brand. His first book, Branding for Success: A Roadmap for Raising the Visibility and Value of Your Nonprofit Organization, has sold thousands of copies both here and abroad.