My friend Michael O’Connor-Clark writes Uninstalled by night and works at Thornley-Fallis in Toronto by day heading up their social networking practice, which is a perfect job for the forward-thinking fellow that he is.
It seems I’m always about three weeks behind him.
His June 6 post bemoans the fact that every social networking site is in a silo from the next - his identity, friends, reputation, likes and dislikes all have to be managed in separate fashion from site to site - which is one of my personal pet peeves and one of the greatest challenges we’re facing in the online world today.
I was ruminating on organizational silos over the weekend. My thoughts were centered around branding, and how important effective story-telling is becoming in the larger enterprise.
As we become more geographically, technically and experientially dispersed, our grasp of the corporate brand, vision and values is colored and flavored by the particular silo in which we work.
I believe that developing, telling and distributing compelling stories are the only ways we’re going to overcome the silo-ed effect of comprehension and understanding.
There’s a reason why statements like “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” and other tales transcend time, language and age boundaries.
I was in a meeting this afternoon with a company who wanted to know more about my approach / process of building brands - and every successful brand I’ve built had three equally strong components:
- Executive sponsorship and support
- A clearly defined audience for whom our story should have absolute relevance
- A strong, compelling, entertaining story that everyone in the company could understand and tell in their own authentic way
At the same time, I’m concerned that the so-called “corporate DNA” that knowledge workers have traditionally held closely is now:
Distributed easily (with USB drives, personal email accounts and RSS)
No longer controlled
Accessible and (often) anonymous
Largely as a result of enterprise 2.0 technology, today’s employees are freed from the confines of a knowledge-management infrastructure that demands control and compliance over corporate knowledge, messages and brand.
This is now a fact of life for marketers. Our brands are truly now the hands of strangers. (Some of whom get their kicks by practicing unnatural acts with them, it’s true.)
Which is why now - more than ever - we must create memorable, truthful stories about our companies, our values, and our brands and live them every day.
Only then will our corporate DNA will extend truthfully beyond our silos, firewalls, carefully crafted messaging matrixes and corporate brand guidelines; and into the hands of virtual strangers, friends and observers…
And they will judge each of us by our identity, friends, reputation, likes and dislikes wherever they come upon us - which isn’t all that different from real life.