There’s a tendency to believe that values are an obstacle to “making money.” And certainly we can all think of companies that have no problem with behaving unethically for an extra dime or two, whether it’s ripping off their consumers, taking serious advantage of their staff, or simply having no concern for society or the environment.
It’s an old model, but it’s one that may well be on the way out — slowly.
There are plenty of independent companies, from fashion design labels to consultancies, who were started precisely because the people behind them were just a little “over” the bad behavior of the profits-before-all companies.
The internet has ensured that bad behavior is spotlighted, whether as a scathing Yelp or GlassDoor review or the blogosphere going crazy about some outrage conducted by a company or CEO.
It also means that, from the local, independent creative to mega brands, there’s a need to connect with audiences, potential and current. And connecting requires embodying values with which we can connect. It means expressing your soul, not selling it.
“Lead with values,” is the advice of Jackie Huba, who has used Lady Gaga as an example of how to generate brand loyalty in her 2013 book Monster Loyalty: How Lady Gaga Turns Followers into Fanatics.
“Gaga,” she says, “is consistent in her message of being yourself and loving others for who they are. That display of values creates a deep emotional connection.”
It’s not just a cheap trick to sucker the public into becoming fans. We know when a personality, a corporation — a brand — is walking the walk.
Businesses that put ethics first see a massive increase in profits according to a recent article in The Huffington Post. “One 11-year study of over 200 companies […] found that those working on their culture improved revenue by 516%, and increased net income by 755%. Conscious Capitalism, a new business movement which includes a large focus on culture and ethics, claims 3.2 times the return of other companies over the last 10 years.”
Call it “karma.” The better a brand treats its staff, its consumer, and its neighborhood, the more rewards it will see.