IN REALITY, INTEGRITY IS A SECOND ORDER AND OVER USED ATTRIBUTE – 3 OBSERVATIONS
I am an advocate of values. I would argue that it is not possible to build a great brand without having clearly defined values, ensuring those values are aligned with your market, ensuring that your staff are aligned with those values, and ensuring that your staff live the values articulated.
Two things I find much less desirable however are:
- Businesses that actively promote their values
- Businesses that include INTEGRITY as one of their values
A business should not have to promote its values. Those values should be clearly evident from all behaviour and in all communication.
I am not sure that many people really know what the word integrity means. Do you? (Answer before looking in the dictionary). What I am sure of, however, is that the word integrity is grossly over used. It is a well promoted value of thousands of businesses right here in Australia and, as such, it adds little.
A couple of years ago, I came across a law firm using the strapline – TRANSPARENCY. I loved it and I still do. It is a no-bullshit, tangible, and meaningful promise that can be readily demonstrated. In many respects, it gives confidence regarding integrity and that other oft-used word – honesty.
I thought it particularly worthy in an industry not generally trusted, and often criticized for its lack of transparency.
It occurred to me, that it also goes directly to the issue of trust. We are all more likely to trust an individual or business that is totally transparent. Even if we do not like a situation, we know what it is and we can make choices when an individual or business is transparent.
Transparency can be the key to building trust and, as with the law firms, the centre-piece of a strategic competitive advantage.
Claiming transparency is better than claiming you can be trusted. However, while it may be a good start, it is not enough. It must also be defined and demonstrated.
It is imperative to define the nature and extent of the transparency, and to determine the aspects of the business to which it applies. The broader and more extensive it is, the better.
Demonstrating transparency involves walking the talk and providing tangible examples of transparent behaviour that is relevant to the needs and wants of the target market.
- Integrity is not a particularly useful value.
- Transparency is a very useful value and a strong point of difference.
- To be effective, transparency must be defined and demonstrated.