1.What is the new thinking around corporate character and purpose?
Within the global corporate communications discipline the thinking around corporate character isn’t new at all. My fellow members of the A.W. Page Society have been all over it over the years, and most recently our president, Roger Bolton, published his latest book on the New Era of the Chief Communications Officer, which addresses the topic and makes for a really good read.
What is new, is that – finally – the financial world, dominated by Anglo-American governance, is putting emphasis on the fact that there’s more than quarterly results. In fact, from Mr Fink’s letter you can see that Blackrock have understood that it’s just no longer sustainable to focus on business performance alone. Without good relationships with all stakeholders, and without a sense of purpose, a business will simply no longer be able to thrive in the long run.
2. New opportunities for CCOs and Brand Directors
This a huge opportunity for Chief Communication Officers (CCO) and Brand Directors to step up their game as they have championed this way of thinking for the longest, however it hasn’t always been recognised at board level. Now CCOs and Brand Directors have the opportunity to show their worth, to make a difference.
One of the challenges to do this is the lack of the right language being used in the boardroom. As you can see in the letter from Mr Fink, he’s speaking about creating a social purpose to sustain its license to operate, not talking about communications or branding. We need to bring these topics and the right language back into the board room.
3. Bringing the financial brand value to the board room table
It’s widely understood amongst board members that a brand is an organisations largest intangible asset. According to Brand Finance (2017) the value of the brand value makes up 18% of the market capitalisation of the biggest companies in the world. A good way to create focus in the board room could be to use the lever of the financial value of communications and the brand. Amongst CCOs, CMOs and Brand Directors we see that financial brand value is the most common tool to stipulate conversation.
Another interesting semantic perspective is the use of the word ‘license’ in ‘license to operate’. During my consulting work with boards over the years, I’ve seen that the word ‘license’ resonates extremely well, it’s smooth business jargon for something valuable. It’s a financial reflection of future cash flows, mostly derived from revenue. One of the topics that mostly raised interest is how a brand can generate income (be licensed), either with external stakeholders (to manage growth) and with internal stakeholders (for brand management).