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brand transparency (2002) by Chris Macrae: open source, full text [recovered]

For many years I was despondent that this text, posted more than a decade ago by me on Chris’ behalf for public consumption, had apparently been lost. It originally appeared at the (now-defunct) Institute For Brand Leadership website, where I served as director from 2001–2003. Fortunately, I found it on the Internet Wayback Machine. All of this is Chris’ — it is his gift to the world. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to edit the text. Of course, as an un-altered text, date-related information is outdated. (I’ll also be posting it to various other places online in hopes of preventing the text from getting lost again.) – Dannielle Blumenthal

brand transparency

a collection of writings by
Chris Macrae
Chief Brand Officer Association
edited by
Dannielle Blumenthal
Institute for Brand Leadership
Posted: 19 July 2002

1. about the author
2. about the editor
4. transparency networkers’ summary
5. introduction
6. brand transparency: a very initial charter
7. the problem with ROI
8. the proposed sig
9. top 10 brand consultancies
10. on brand as facilitator of transition from vertical to horizontal forms of organisation
11. csr and the 11th newsletter
12. valuetrue
13. csr and baldridge
14. csr and competitive advantage
15. chief brand officer association catalogue of community tools
16. call for papers, special issue of corporate reputation review
17. economics 2.0
18. accounting disasters
19. the revolutionary challenge of it all
20. measurement mysteries
21. valuation on the verge of a breakdown
22. is marketing ready to lead?
23. on the menu for brand transparency
24. never over
25. academia
26. conflict & poor world resolutions
27. connectivity
28. transparency standards multidisciplinary catalogue
29. how to understand branding so as to facilitate transparency
30. dimensions of the measurement crisis
31. win-win vs. win-lose
32. value
33. brand energy and the networked stakeholder
34. making the commitment
35. lost transparency register
36. shareholder value analysis
37. the courage to look
38. slaves of business administration
39. together
40. open letter to a senior european academic i disagree with — 1
41. open letter to a senior european academic i disagree with — 2
42. what if a profession doesn’t openly roadmap the future of its transparency?
43. do you know how to make social capital your company’s core competitive advantage?
44. language
45. coca-cola
46. brand value exchange: make brands serve humans
47. leaders as conversations
48. why not ask CEOs to help build a better world?
49. a totally different picture of brand
50. brand disvaluation
51. smart people
52. certification
53. standardization
54. network as emerging brand leadership typology
55. conversations create transactions
56. typologies of brand
57. weakspots and the future of measurement services
58. and the new god hired an accountant
59. continue the conversation
about the author
Chris Macrae specialises in organisational approaches to living the brand which do not assume that mass communications is the essence. He is especially interested in cross-examining the value economics of organisational sub-processes in terms of how these change in connection with emerging “megatrends”: future trends that are already forming cultural roots in some part of the globe.
After receiving a First-Class Honours BA in Mathematics (York) followed by a Postgraduate Diploma in Statistics (Cambridge), Chris went on to his first job in the early stage of computer-assisted learning research. His experiences were included in the core scenario of The 2024 Report: a Future History of the Internetworking Economy, written in 1984 by his father, Norman Macrae, of The Economist (see
Chris has been a global market researcher of customers since the 1980s, applying database-constructed market models applied to projects managed for multinationals in 25 countries, working for Novaction. Later, from 1990–1994, Chris began actively researching the needs of all corporate stakeholders, his specialty as a consultant at Coopers & Lybrand.
Having worked in over countries in the 1980s as a consumer modeller — assessing communications strategies for some of the world’s leading brand owners with models originated by Glen Urban of MIT — Chris wanted to understand other ways of evaluating a brand’s worth and to help design simple processes for connecting branding with a company’s other intangible assets and human knowledge.
Chris is also responsible for authoring two of the first and most influential books on corporate branding, World Class Brands (1990), which connected globalisation and localisation issues, and Brand Chartering: How Brand Organisations Learn Living Scripts (1995), which linked knowledge management and learning organisation system practices to branding. He has helped to coin many constructs of Brand Leadership including Brand Architecture, Living Unique Organising Purpose, Brand Flow and Systems of Identifiers. In 1999, Chris edited a special Triple Issue of the Journal of Marketing Management on “Employee Brand Reality” — methods for aligning employees’ individual passions and communal pride with what the brand promises. Chris is currently helping executives make connections between the brand, business model, community value exchanges and digital transformation strategies.
Since 1995, Chris has been actively engaged in hosting Web communities. Through a continuously built personal network since 1995, he has evolved permission to discuss human service processes, knowledge spaces and intangibles with a breadth of disciplinary experts. One result is the System Map — an embryonic expert training and corporate reporting system — linking the Transparency Standards Community at and the fieldbook “The Map that Changed the World”. Consequently, Chris claims access to the largest network of experts in methods of World Class brand organisation. He is also a prime mover of the idea to develop The Association for Chief Brand Officers.
Chris has been interviewed as one of Tom Peters’ Cool Friends-on Brand Organisation.
about the editor
Dannielle Blumenthal is a brand strategist specializing in holistic, humanistic, win-win success techniques. Through the Institute for Brand Leadership, she has spearheaded numerous initiatives aimed at furthering brand thought leadership, including a $3000 “brand power” essay contest that has drawn worldwide attention. The creator and producer of The Brand Consultancy Knowledge Board, her articles on branding are frequently published in a variety of academic and industry publications. She can be reached at
transparency networkers’ summary
In 1.0 days, when I was a management consultant at a top worldwide firm, we were taught to preface survey research with three sections: findings, conclusions, and recommended next steps. Whilst there are a lot of things to do with over-static numerical and under-linked organisational representation that have no residual value as practiced by consultancy 1.0, this communications format is one which I believe can translate well into any 2.0 Briefing on Brand Transparency.
This report is unusual because unlike surveys of other people, it is primarily based on conversations that flowed across brand organisation experts and around me without any thought of survey structure. So it should probably be best considered like a diary, which struggles towards understanding what a huge transparency gulf corporates have arrived at (reference: Fortune’s System Failure article of June 2002, President Bush’s July 2002 speeches to the Nation) and must now urgently address if branding, organisations and markets are to be valued — with the dynamic integrity of living human systems benefiting all stakeholders.
This is not just a document about how productivity stalled at a time which could first have embraced the wrongly named intangibles age (an economy of hi-touch humanly connected service and knowledge processes being a fairer description). It must also expose how socially inept organisation has become, and ultimately the risks to civilisation as we perceive it if we do not act now
Key Findings
Intangibles are equivalent to humanly connected service and knowledge processes of the organisation. They are, in fact, very high-touch but not separately countable because their value models are primarily driven by:
· Connectivity, not separation
· Future scenarios, not past events — SWOT of what is likely to happen next due to what has been happening to the system
· Dynamism, not inertia — being capable of responding to the stimuli of the environments in the world outside
The brand — or technically the total money, time and system investment by an organisation in branding — can provide a connectivity structure linking intangibles and tangibles to all value exchanged by a company and across its marketspaces. As such, the brand is not a good or bad thing, but depends on how humanely it is practiced and what its governing system of leadership does with it. When critics such as Naomi Klein shout “No Logo!” they are, in effect, complaining about the conventional standards and goals of organisational leadership. And, in fact, they are right to point out the failure of global economies, which includes global corporates, to provide brands that truly serve people rather than exploiting them.
The voices of antibrand activists actually represent all the nuances of progressing sustainable livelihoods — a priority which so far has not been acted upon by the world’s top brands. Instead of being truly acted upon, corporate social responsibility has become a buzzword, in danger of being imaged to death. It is also, not tangentially, in danger of becoming meaninglessly bureaucratized rather than inspiringly embedded in every employee’s motivation for work — in postindustrial and developing nations alike.
The crisis for brand is directly linked with the current monopoly that accounting holds over corporate value measurement. Quarterly numbers auditing is simply not sufficient to provide a true picture of the total value that organizations generate — and intangible value arguably provides nearly 100% of that equation. Therefore, accounting must simplify itself back to pure cashflow monitoring on behalf of the outsider-shareholder, rather than writing up complex laws on how to make forward-looking estimates of different intangible parts. The attempt to turn fantasy numbers into believable reality stories is by definition an unreal approach, one that breeds contempt, disillusionment, and dis-confidence on the part of all stakeholders. That this complexity has compounded itself over more than a decade seems little more than a conspiracy by accountants who have a vested interest in maintaining boardroom access, control, and credibility. The resulting lack of transparency is not only “wrong,” but itself depletes the value that could otherwise be realized by a meaningful map of system exchange.
Today’s transparency crisis is only superficial, focusing on the worst cases of corruption. But tomorrow’s transparency crisis will be about more than such extremity. It will increasingly focus on boards that are literally clueless about how intangible value is produced (or destroyed) in their organizations. It will center on the identification of both direct and indirect monetary values (trust, community, humanitarianism) and question the rampant destruction of both of these through systems that trust only numbers and nothing else. It should be noted that the golden rule of relationship reciprocity is the one that unites all the world’s major religions and if worldwide cultural harmony is to be progressively restored we must make the most of this declaration of humanity’s interdependence.
None of the last paragraph is particularly shocking to those who are most practiced in networking’s new open conversational advantages, nor the futurists such as Alvin Toffler and my father, who from the early 1980s predicted a paradigm shift in organisation and economies. They also clarified that scenarios of what happens to society in years of true revolution run the full spectrum. It can be fantastic, integrating higher-order self-actualization opportunities for all of the world’s citizens who were previously handicapped by the socio-political-economic caste system. Or, it can be horrible, with with the amazing capabilities of global networking technologies used by angry, disturbed, or desperate people to blow civilization up.
A continuation of the old-school, “I win-you lose” economic model is bound to create the latter scenario. Strategies that rely on this mode of operation totally destroy intangible value. Consequently, all of the following sorts of practices must be repealed, never to be celebrated as good practice again:
· profiting from those who have least knowledge or access
· locking someone into a cheap start but the worst of all relationships from their side
· using the power of big to buy out or kill off the innovative
· using customers’ money to advertise images that don’t match the organisation’s competence
· lobbying for political favours instead of focusing on being the best
· failing to train people in service value, including failing to build feedback loops so that employee can listen to customers and help the organisation rectify serious dissatisfactions
· misreading environmental change because “we’re too famous to need to evolve anyway”
· the board spending so much time on short-term and costly delusions that the idea of investing in uniquely usable innovations increasingly evaporates
As transparency integrators, brand experts must facilitate both the unlearning of 1.0 and the convergence of 2.0 among all intangible-relevant systems — including measurement, strategy, economics, and policy as well as those “softer” systems which have been so meanly despised in the past (human resources, organizational learning, intranets, etc.). As trust grows, knowledge is shared and good cultural values become transparently how we behave. It all fits together.
Recommended Next Steps
Here are some of the most critical items that should be on every organisation’s agenda:
· Downsize quarterly numbers accounting by half. This will make way for corporate governance to pay equal attention to valuing human relationships that comprise the dynamics of the organisational system. These relationships need governing through open knowledge and by communally mapping valued actions. 
· Establish an open source standards community, such as the experimental model offered at In this community, ensure that no profession seeks to have superior influence in shaping what must organisationally be a multidisciplinary standard and socially needs to represent the stakeholders with the least access (meaning everyone from pension investors in any publicly traded company to poor world groups with desperate needs).
· Create shared standards for intangibles measurement. We need to simplify and to openly benchmark, nowhere more so that in evolving worldwide partnerships to promote active progress relating to the poor world’s most desperate needs. We must foster processes across all the professions that blue chips use to unlearn and cut out measurement rules that have no place in modelling the intangibles flows. There is a place for academics to help facilitate this. But what we do not need is ever-more-complex frameworks, nor do we need researchers being sponsored by old professions which are trying to preserve the vested interests in their business cases by using mass media and precedent-chained experts to forward the lie that business as usual will be perfectly all right once outright corruption has been cleansed.
Because the following is only a ten minute version, it can only give a flavour of what we are all on about. I don’t really want to be cross-examined at this level, rather than something deeper. I’m just trying it out in case it helps show that some of the alarm bells our network are ringing are being done out of duty — out of what we see as communal practice responsibility — as opposed to raising false alarms, or diverting your time from more important things (a value judgment to be sure!)
Probably the simplest metaphor is the organisational process that you’d hope rules if you were flying in a plane. You would hope that fundamentally the plane had not been audited by an accountant’s mind and numbers totaling up, but an engineer who had a total architectural blueprint of every possible weak spot and who regularly checked and maintained those weak spots, and had the total support of the leadership team to do that work.
If you took our map of the promises that a global organisation is making in connecting all its behaviours, vision, economy of the spends in the people processes it uses, adaptability, focus and total relationship capital and asked where are the weak spots in ways people cooperate to serve these promises, then very quickly people doing that exercise can point to or more top level risk points, each of which digs down to a host of contextual risks of dysfunctionality.
Now that is rather like a quality benchmarking audit, and it’s not the prime skill of accountants to make the complete living blueprint of that, but rather the people that are closest to the human relastionship connectivities. It is also something which if you do insist in putting numbers on like “how close are we to six sigma”, you do that after determining the connectivity understanding of the people, not by trying to construct measures before investing in the types of repair solutions needed for the system’s health and sustainable growth.
Unfortunately, if one rehearses in one’s mind what are the practical difficulties of a leadership team ever adopting such a stewardship-of-care system there are many other “impracticalities.” A large share of these non-transparencies have been created by putting monopoly trust in accountants to keep the score on things that have changed in the intangible systems direction — meaning less countable, more interconnected, more high touch. Now it is about whether the right knowledge is being focused, shared and acted on, as well as different economies of organising now that we have worldwide digital knowledge linking systems rather than just pen and paper.
I want accountants to get back to counting pure cash flow. As soon as they make applied estimates, these should be recognised to be just as soft (assumption prone) as any other discipline might make, and actually things whose accuracy anyway depends on context. You cannot write up one rule to artificially fit organisations of all dynamical types to plug in a number to the static frame of a common balance sheet.
It is in this last arena, compounded over two decades, that the motivation of the global accounting profession to retain the monopoly audit/measurement system the board focuses on has caused all sort of non-transparencies. In a few corrupt cases the clients have sponsored or argued compound leverage of an artificial rule. In most cases the Board have become the victims of the blindness that has been caused by the one-fit-all laws that accountants have written up, and which in truth don’t apply to the 85% of value productivity that is intangibles connected, nor the 100% of risk, nor to the non-monetary values whose lack of stewardship cause people dysfunctionalities at behavioural or learning levels of the organisation as a system.
If that sounds like an over-exaggeration, remember how a big 5 firm blinded itself to its own relationship risks. Look at Fortune’s “System Crisis”. Read between the lips of President Bush’s radio broadcast next Saturday. Listen to Alan Greenspan on his model of reputation as the weakest link.
· Downsize quarterly auditing by half to get back nearer to pure cashflow
· Map in a second system standard that gets as much total organisational attention and quarterly numbers, and during the installation phase needs positive discrimination by leadership team
· Facilitate a multidisciplinary and human relationship council of experts to build a the company’s system map, keeping accountants away from being the masters of this system, as they both enough work to do to purifying their numbers
Anyway this is what several thousand people have started working on. Everyone is openly invited to join in — our whole system is published in open source convention and cam be replicated digitally as an application service that arguably costs less than the reams of paper that a numbers reporting process uses. What we don’t need is people saying we are just trying to achieve the same thing as what another set of frameworks ultimately administered by the finance functions ‘old logics.
Whether you wish us luck, or feel our purpose has to be attacked is of course wholly up to you. Equally whether the transparency crisis in the way we picture it is to be thought of as something that marketing could take a leading hand in resolving or not is again not a professional borderline that I have any power or desire to judge. That is over to people who represent marketing’s profession. However, until my last breath I will keep raising the question wherever the networking identity of branding transparency revolves.
brand transparency: a very initial charter
1. Numbers are dead.
Traditional valuation and auditing methods applied to intangibles — such as brand, knowledge, values, vision and other human relationship flows — have turned big businesses opaque.
This practice has been in play for at least a decade and the damage has only compounded over time. The effect is not only to blind corporations to their social responsibilities but also to threaten their very sustainability as organizational systems. This much was finally argued in unusually strong language by economists and intangibles task force groups in three policy reports back in the Summer of 01, issued by the Brookings Institute, NYU’s Stern School of Business, and the European Union.
Subsequent events have proven these reports’ predictions of corporate and social disasters prescient. Indeed, by 24 June 2002, big businesses’ own trade magazine, Fortune, led on the issue of how measurement has covered up its crossroads for a decade — blaming every other profession for what turns out to be principally its own valuation and accounting fault-lines. (Link:
Yes: the economics and practices of marketing may need to change. But not through the precise divisions from other human relationship disciplines that the Financial professions have pursued. It is now clear that overzealous “rule by numbers” has obscured the integrity of organisations as systems in which value is created through interdependence. The reality is that all true intangibles are, strictly speaking, uncountable in the sense that their main value is sustained through human connectivity and not separated in parts. Simple numbers, as a necessary part of corporate governance, can work jolly well to a point. But when they are over-exerted as a monopoly form of measurement, ignorance and evil lurk in the assumptions numbers bury.
2. Transparency is alive.
What the world’s leading guru on relationship capital, Don Tapscott, calls the “Transparency Paradigm Shift” has started, and those who do not convert to this humanistic movement in time will never again be trusted in any open leadership capacity. This is also connected to the paradigm shift of networking productivity that Norman Macrae of The Economist authored in his 1984 future-history book as the megatrend that would change social and business worlds over the next two generations.
Today, it would be a most timely value if branding, as the major intangible, took one of the multidisciplinary leads in mapping the new business curriculum. How might we do this?
Transparency Research takes as it focal subject matter “organisation of human relationship systems and the changing impacts of a networking world”. Its core thrust as an investigative inquiry is what would happen to the value dynamics of such systems if totally open information access were practised and networked. This is a defining exercise in reframing for the 21st century. It is applicable to a business organisation, a whole industry network globally and locally, a profession, performance standards of quality, value or integrity, and other economic systems such as nation brands which connect human relationships and behaviours through their human infrastructure, cultural leadership and policy assumptions.
3. Brand transparency and the learning organization
The genre of Learning Organisation, and within that the connectivity framing modules provided by “Fifth Discipline” and the worldwide chapters of Learning Organization Systems research, is one of the most well known examples of the Transparency Research mode applied to contexts of business leadership.
Before one tries to evolve a modular network of research frames connecting Branding and Transparency on the scale of Learning Organisation Systems Theory, it would be logical to consider how much of the existing literature on LOS can apply to Branding Transparency, and whether any dual-discipline frames connecting pairs of areas already exist.
For example.
The idea that the brand works as a promise is now quite commonly accepted in most definitions of branding. Naturally, it is good to keep promises you claim and this has led to some leading-edge areas of brand research. These include “Living the Brand” (also known as “Employee Brand Reality,” which the Journal of Marketing Management devoted a special triple issue to), meaning connecting a company’s total investment in branding with leadership values and vision, and people manners and behaviours.
These organisational approaches to brand need to be transparent in order to add value. The people responsible for delivering on the brand promise need to continually learn how to do so. Organisational delivery on the brand was given a new focus through the corporate identity genre of Built to Last (Collins and Porras), and has this year been developed in Committed Enterprise (Davidson) whose practice contributions for forty years have championed the value of “offensive” (or proactive) marketing. In fact, the term “Brand Architecture” originally emanated from Gary Hamel’s early work on the strategic architecture of intangibles. Specifically, it mapped how leaders of global enterprises would need to compete in the future by fundamentally linking their core competencies and their corporate branding.
the problem with ROI
I really hate ROI.
Let me explain: It’s the dominance that bothers me, as if this calculation full of arbitrary assumptions is the rubber stamp to approval that an organisational initiative will succeed or fail.
ROI should never be demanded unless you are going to also ask in parallel for comments on Return on People. This second appraisal would permit all sorts of rehearsing of all the open people connectivity and learning system things that ROI buries as if they are invisibl — whereas I expect they’re the make or break.
What are some of the problems with ROI?
· What time period are we talking about? Is it possible that the so-called gain later destroys value over a longer timeframe? When you milk a relationship you sure do get a return after which you get a bigger loss.
· How can this thing be so separate? What else does it connect to? Are some things, like training, that should get higher ROI stigmatized because they don’t work in isolation, but only in connection?
· Is ROI the right approach? It makes it sound so all-or-nothing, whereas I prefer small-scale iterative experiments, many of which don’t need such analysis at their early stages because they really are not about a lot of “I”! Also, those who are practised in iterative approaches view large one-off ROI with bewilderment: Surely there’s a lot of potential return that’s dependent on iterative execution, so is the ROI model truly reflecting how much executional leverage there is?
One part of executional leverage is whether the whole thing works for people the way it’s expected. Many technology investments just didn’t go to this level of granularity, so the exercise got high ROI, while the reality got none.
In other ways ROI hides all sorts of assumptions. It gets to the stage where one suspects that the political power of the ROI modeller is to bless things that bosses propose and to cut things sub-ordinates suggest. I don’t think ROI models are open, inviting questioning, learning. I also suspect that ROI takes over rather than more detailed discussion of different alternatives regarding suppliers, process, solutions. Giving the work to whomever does the neatest ROI analysis (stretching the R assumptions most) is a mad, bad way to select consultants and suppliers.
In fact, so much effort can be put into the ROI that it can be forgotten that it’s not where the real work is. The real work is introducing the thing, but were the people who have to create fully informed about that, they would get by some ROI-assumed progress deadlines which were just guessed.
Did all this ROI ritualisation come in just because it’s so easy for anyone to do an Excel worksheet? Bad mathematicians put rubbish in, get rubbish out, and don’t even know what human assumptions were being made or completely ignored by the whole process.
ROI seems connected to a lot of other numbers auditing in transparencies which are increasingly being shown to have little to do with how human relationship systems really produce or destroy value. Above all, knowledge and intangible flows are about connectivity and dynamics which numbers models keep on ignoring because arithmetic is the logic for modelling how separate lifeless things count up. It’s not how human knowledge flows and networks produce value these days.
the proposed sig
Branding Transparency is proposed as a special interest group devoted to:
· Integrating marketing’s practices with other human relationship disciplines
· Clarifying which of these competitively build sustainable value
· Providing the possibility of evolving measurable standards towards organising value, transparency and responsibility.
In America, transparency (or “responsibility”) is emerging as a new area of competitive advantage — the focus of strategy and profit patterning. It directly provides a channel for mobilising both the monetary and the social value of Corporate Responsibility in ways that could go beyond mere “reassurance” audits of the triple bottom line. It would be timely to integrate a genre of marketing with the core of this field of research and leadership practice. The Journal of Brand Management is in fact preparing a Special Issue concerned with this agenda.
Win-win transparency — also called relationship reciprocity — is the one fundamental instruction common to all the world’s major religions. It represents the social good that can unite our world globally and locally in one human culture.
Initially, part of the academic work of Branding Transparency could involve looking at how we integrate various areas of our existing literature and frameworks. Specifically, it is necessary to address how the promises of a company’s total investment in branding are systematically kept in all stakeholder relationships. In effect this is about connecting the marketing disciplines most concerned with different stakeholders such as:
· Consumers
· Employees
· Business partners
· Society at large
Community is a key word in valuing and standardising best practices of knowledge management and digital marketing genres. If a subgroup of this SIG could seek to connect marketing’s established views across the community of stakeholder relationships with the organisational dynamics and innovations of the new technologies, this would be all to the good. One opportunity to do this is to explore connections with the European Union SIG on Knowledge Management and Emotional Intelligence, as well as their broader Knowledge Angel Network. Other opportunities may be revealed in the knowledge programmes funded by ESRC.
Moreover, practice networks concerned with understanding the new opportunities for Organising Creativity have renewed the demand that knowledge and marketing renew their organisational fusion as originally intended in Peter Drucker’s mid-20th century endeavours to coin marketing as the core knowledge-working discipline.
In terms of human productivity, research needs to be done on the hypothesis that it would be timely — as well as good for transparency — if the theory of brand marketing could be returned to a media-neutral view of the economics of communications.
It is also suggested that Branding Transparency could provide a forum for dialogue between practitioners and academics whereby practitioners can raise the most urgent challenges in the field to sustaining “offensive marketing” and ask what research matches these challenges. It is particularly important to do this now as there is widespread concern that the perception of marketing both as a social function and a business profession is at a low ebb.
For example, the theme of this year’s annual Marketing Society conference is “Marketing Under Attack”. This paragraph from the conference agenda can be regarded as seminal in scoping one of the big ideas connecting the interdisciplinary territory involved in Leadership of Branding Transparency. “There has never been a more testing time for marketing. We will all be massively effected by globalisation — either we are part of it or we have to compete with it, there is no hiding place. It creates tough new rules, benchmarks and challenges and it is vital we adapt to them successfully.”
Transparency is also a pivotal notion in the newest typologies of branding. At the macro level, these include nation branding (Journal of Brand Management Special Issue 2002). At the micro level, this involves personal branding. In the United States, tompeterscompany! argues that aligning personal and organisational branding is the key to future innovation. In Sweden, Managing Brand Me (Gad & Rosencreutz) links to the public choice of how open agency and profiling tools will define what medium we shape with the Internet. In London, Brand Manners (Pringle & Gordon) argues for empowering the self-confident organisation. There, the ultimate value of the new technology will be to change from “command & control” leadership styles to empowering every co-worker to take the lead when they have the closest information on stakeholders’ needs to action and to share.
Early discussions on brand transparency have been received with enthusiasm by risk management and conflict resolution experts as matching training tools they are developing and disseminating through e-learning modes.
There are clear research linkages between Branding Transparency and the Crises Reports on Intangibles Measurement. It seems fitting to finish with an extract from The European Union Report which concludes with the following plea.
<<The Intangible Economy Impact And Policy Issues:
Report Of The European High Level Expert Group On The Intangible Economy
· In our expert soundings, the growing disconnect between our established economic concepts and business models and today’s rapidly-changing economic reality was readily and universally acknowledged. At a personal level, interest is invariably high, but the professional appetite and commitment of policy makers to embrace change were found to be disappointingly low.
· In this respect, the responses most often encountered were:
a) Apathy, lack of interest
b) Active resistance to change
c) White papers and communications that embrace the rhetoric, but fail to address what is really needed to implement change.
· If the recommendations set out in this report are not to be implemented, we would strongly prefer it to be as a result of the second response. In other words, we would prefer a conscious decision to remain locked in to a 19th century institutional mindset, not least because this would constitute a conscious decision to opt out of the global competitiveness race.
· We would be disappointed with response a), especially if it reflected a lack of clear communication on our part and thus an inability to wake readers from their apathy. But what we fear most is response (c) — adoption of the rhetoric, but no real action. This is the easy option (hence our fear it might prevail), but it is dangerous because it gives the illusion of action without addressing the substance of the problem.>>
A measurement system aimed at open sourcing the simplest possible mapping standard for resolving these challenges is being written up as the Fieldbook: The Map that Changes the World, for publication in early 2003. As the three co-authors of this book are part of the UK brand thought leadership community, it could be interesting to debate how closely their transparency model connects with upcoming brand change research agendas. The transparency of these could help to make the world and its people communally more tolerant as well as energising their productivities as intrapreneurs, telecommuters and Internet-workers in the ways that were foretold by The Economist’s leading editorial journalists from the 1970s onwards.
top 10 brand consultancies
What are the top ten brand consultancies in the UK, or at least, the leading ones, in addition to Interbrand, Kunde, Added Value, etc.?
I personally look for brand consultancies that offer something unique, not size, which I guess gets muddied anyway by borders between traditional communications businesses and genuine brand consultancies (whatever that is). Going down this list before me:
· Kunde of Corporate Religion — that seems unique,
· Added Value has been around so long that I suppose I debate if they are a brand consultancy, but let’s include them particularly because of their internal marketing arm,
· Whilst not actually in the same market position, I suppose we should also include the other, well-established Value Engineers (
Some personal nominations using my “different” criterion:
· Springpoint (, headed by Fiona Gilmore, author of Brand Warriors, one of the UK consultants that understood corporate brand architectures early on.
· MCA Group (, as Kevin Thompson’s book Emotional Capital was a landmark one and he brings alignment to internal marketing and employee branding.
· tompeterscompany! (, because Tom is moving into brand as #1 business leadership agenda and his staff appear to provide “purish” coaching.
· FutureBrand (— maybe I should exclude them along similar reasoning to excluding Interbrand and corporate identity companies until someone says they want to select from this large group, but the position of Futurebrand does seem slightly different.
Some of America’s most respected brand consultancies barely have a UK arm as yet but there I would include Vivaldi Brand Leadership ( and The Brand Consultancy ( As for Interbrand, well, once you go there you have to admit all sorts of corporate identity companies. Don’t know where to draw the line. And I myself believe that brand valuation isn’t a reason for including someone in a brand consultancy list.
on brand as facilitator of transition from vertical to horizontal forms of organisation
I’ve always thought that a company’s major brands should be its primary horizontal ways of organising, along with:
· Project teams
· Intranet and innovation networks
· Communities of practices
· Integrated processes (such as those designed around customer interaction with the company)
· Identity/culture
· Intangibles measurement
This compares with traditional vertical strands of organisation, such as:
· Departments
· Business units
· Hierarchy within the “organigram”
· Most traditional measurement and appraisal systems
I would love to hear from anyone who:
· Thinks of brands in this same horizontal way.
· Is practicing or experimenting with how best to do this.
· Has any comments to make on this topic.
csr and the 11th newsletter
The idea of this newsletter community is that each month you can opt to contribute up to one question, theme, comment, etc. that’s nagging on your mind about how best to advance Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) or grassroots causes you care most about.
If you have a contribution, send it to me and I will collate into the newsletter which I will then post out to all of us. (Should you wish to exit from this newsletter group just tell me.)
If you have a contribution, you can choose to label its subject in one of three ways:
· “Anonymous” means I will circulate within this group but never tell anyone who it came from
· “Thinking-aloud” means I’m curious to learn, but this is off record, something I’m unofficially trying to take a second look at beyond current conventional wisdom.
· “Open” means you can quote me or circulate if you think that might get a diversity of useful responses.
If you want to include links in your contribution that is fine. Please try to keep to half a page or less.
As an example, here’s my April — nagger. It’s “open”.
From the perspective of an Internet economist, I am used to studying:
· Contexts where major economic or social benefits could be achieved by an Internet process designed to increase access, transparency, and transfer of knowhow.
· Which people, historically, charge tolls — both monetary and status-seeking — for sharing their knowhow in a particular context. The motivations of these experts need to be studied in order to understand whether they would support the Internet’s open exchange of expert practices, which can be expected to change the structure of professional knowhow tolls significantly.
My question:
· Consider the top developing world agendas, such as clean water, hunger, discrimination against women, maternal/child mortality, and safety.
· Has an Internet-based knowledge-exchanging process (linked directly to local reporting of project needs, challenges, livelihood-sustainability) been applied with radical results on any of these agendas?
· If yes, what is the bookmark to this community?
· If not, which Internet-facilitated community of interest might be easiest (or hardest) to involve professional experts in? Why?
In about a week’s time we’re opening the Value Standards community at Our aim is to unite disciplines in mapping a new kind of organisational measurability.
Using 300-word scripts, we intend to develop clusters displaying different disciplinary viewpoints of the whole system. Each script will be signed by its maker.
Regarding branding, I would love to feature scripts on different types of branding and the value sub-processes that each involves. In the future I believe people will understand that different types of brand (product, corporate, etc.) require very different system intelligences as well as actions and resources.
How would you script, in 300 words, the map of doing one of these brands in a way which sustained quality and value integrity for all its stakeholders?
Or what other types of brand merit their own map?
csr and baldridge
We desperately need to back CSR standards into Baldrige, as the the CSR supplier industry is too fragmented ever to enable benchmarking around the most urgent concerns in the world that global companies should be co-studying and co-leading solutions to
If anyone has any creative ideas propelling that, please tell me. This is a revolution whose time is long overdue, and that has imo very serious consequences on nation-brand USA, nation-brand “the world”, and also brand you/me.
csr and competitive advantage
Once standards have been systemised, CSR will become an organisation’s greatest source of competitive advantage. Reasons:
· CSR systems are entirely based on creating win-win relationships among all stakeholders — a more strategic long-term business model than win-lose.
· CSR quickly turns out to be cost-neutral by substituting knowledge-fluence for knowledge silos and economic modes of operation for wasteful ones
· The decibel level is rising on calls for greater organisational accountability. Investor confidence depends on it, which means opinion leaders from President Bush on down will continue to demand it. First mover advantages, not to mention reputation credits, will go to the leaders who help to put CSR-like transparency frameworks in place.
If the world’s 50 largest corporate economies do not commit to CSR — with particular focus on demands of the world’s 4 billion poorest — the system/environment pressures on world trade and peace will be perilous. In a networked global village, there will be more and more of a link between fair play and brand value.
Alan Mitchell’s book Right Side Up sketched how the consumer economics of many markets are going bust.
Among employees, for example, research indicates that most people feel disengaged at work and required to behave less humanly than in other walks of life. This contrasts frustratingly with the visions of self-confident organisation expressed by people like Bill Jensen (Work 2.0) and Donald Tapscott (a believer in the networked power of the ‘Net generation).
Or consider shareholders. The average pensioner at the end of this food chain is in increasing peril.
Or how about partners: Reichheld has some nice work on this. We need only to look at dotcoms to see how the world’s first big experiment in commercialising networked business webs went bust because of immaturity of partnering. The telltale signs were short-term greed and trust-destabilising, “fast-burn” business models that should never have been conceived in the first place.
chief brand officer association catalogue of community tools
Brand Architecture
A “good” brand architecture:
· enables people in an organisation to understand why relationships comprise a growing percentage of their total corporate worth.
· enables the leadership team to see how every major investment decision and strategy interacts with the brand.
A complete brand architecture involves mapping out how every stakeholder in a company is influenced by brands at key moments of value judgement. When people know how to use the brand as a filter for decision-making they can use it to inspire major, progressive organisation-wide changes. Have a strategic brand architecture firmly in place before game-changing acts of leadership are set into motion.
Web-Based Brand Action Learning
World-class transformation teams are generally connected to some form of online toolkit. It has the capacity to simply and continually update every phase of transformation projects. Learn from others who have used these tools and their knowledge of what works and how.
Brand Chartering
Do-it-yourself is the best way to make the brand real at the local level. Facilitate an action system that engages every person, business unit, country, and so on in a linked brand communications loop. Tailor the system so that the brand clearly filters and highlights important areas of knowledge, organisational behaviors, needed transformational changes, investment decisions, and yes even the business model. Tailor it to a paper or digital management style. Anticipate broken links — interpersonal or information-based — that brand leadership systems need to guard against.
4D Branding
Profile the four dimensions of the brand you need:
· The lowest dimension, “functional benefit,” suits product-based brand execution best.
· Corporate and global brands need the highest dimension, “spiritual benefit”.
· Social and mental benefits fall somewhere in the middle.
In the future, 4-D brands will be capable of leading organisational change. Futurise your brand by simplifying its DNA — vision, mission, values, styling, positioning, flagship product — so that the company can live it once you’ve taken the essential Brand Code “on tour” within the organization.
Refresh the 4D brand by intranetting such exercises as:
· concocting a brand recipe for every audience.
· creating a mental movie for being the best brand in the world.
Know why most company brands are still far down the learning curve as organisms of the network economy, and how the ideology of 4D branding can help you futurise just ahead of the competition.
call for papers, special issue of corporate reputation review
Leslie, Majken:
· Do you really think there’s “an abyss of uncertainty”? I see it more as 100,000 advertising people and accountants — through their brand valuation compact — in opposition to anyone who dare says that the external brand is minor compared with the total of brand reality inside, brand leadership at the top, and brand value exchange as a business model. None of these has ever failed in practice when the CEO has sponsored their use. 
· “There is a paucity of grounded, epistemologically sound theories about corporate branding and a dearth of empirically rigorous studies into corporate branding.” I learned a funny thing at the recent Georgetown Retreat. Aaker, Keller, Joachimsthaler and little me are all mathematicians by origin. That’s probably why the other three dare look beyond the conventional wisdom about rigor and theory. Its a crying shame that America’s MSI wasn’t named the Marketing Sociology Institute because when dealing with the system dynamics of 10,000 employees contributing to a global brand and all the other audiences, something reducible to mathematical scientific fact is the last thing in hell I (think we all) need to corporate brand with. I’m quite surprised if the Corporate Reputation Review insisted on such words.
economics 2.0
Thanks for the tip on Ormerod’s Death of Economics — I haven’t read it but looked at some Amazon reviews. Basically the map, intangibles valuation, Net as medium and way of working suggest we need an Economics 2.0 model whose assumptions start at the other end of such dimensions.
Economics 2.0 must replace tangible forecasts by constant systems scenario detection/simulation. The first and most crucial duty of the simulations is to surface assumptions by mapping them out clearly, rather than bury them with numbers.
In fact it is surprising, as a holistic theory, how far behind intangibles economics is. I think a map can facilitate a discussion of most critical dimensions of that. I’m really saddened how far behind The Economist, for example, is on this. This magazine in particular should have become a world centre of prediction-making from new analyses rather than old ones, not the least because my father’s 1984 book had already started to discuss the new economics of “Internetworking”.
When I am feeling rude I say that the Nobel prize of economics should be suspended until economists get over to the new planet where Internetworking productivity is real and everything else is dismal theory or celebrity perception. True! You could design an Economics 2.0 course for a 10-year old to enjoy life’s clues, then show them anything from old economics and they would ask you: Where did you get this economics of fat power? Is this what dinosaurs once ruled and killed themselves with?
Indeed, did Ormerod have a deathlist of opposites, or of things that no longer only model the way a tangible economist believes?
And in all this the dead hand of numbers — quarterly audits, business case forecasts, time (instead of connectivity) sheets, what’s a cost and what’s an investment, etc. etc. etc. — has a totally vicious effect on the potential for turning organizations into human relationship systems based on collaborative learning.
accounting disasters
If one was to believe in conspiracy theories, one would say that amongst others this is the disaster crossroad accountants took us down a decade ago. About that time the world’s largest corporate economies recognized that they were producing more intangible than tangible value. Accountants recognized this. They could have chosen to keep their quarterly numbers focused on useful things like cashflow, but that would have confined them to the minority area of static valuation. It also would have ended their monopoly performance presence in boardrooms and first access to consultancy pitches. So instead they made up more and more opaque accounting laws for estimating intangibles in ways that were not just misleading but fundamentally wrong.
Accountancy is numbers-based. Therefore accountants’ starting assumption is always separability. But intangible value derives from connectivity — from synergy in human relationship patterns.
The effects of this history of measurability have compounded awfully. Today, of the world’s 100 biggest economies, over 50 are now corporate — not national. And the rules driving the corporates are not just without any open governing responsibility but are biased towards the kind of dynamics that produced an Enron. This company catapulted into one of the world’s top 25 economies in less than 10 years!
How many more Enrons will evolve from these “legal” but nonsensical value measurement rules? Remember that much of what Enron did was perfectly legitimate in the eyes of the law, until it got on an unsustainable growth path. For example, it was permitted by US accounting rules to book years of forecast profits into a single quarterly period. This, and the numbers-driven reporting need of beating this each quarter, started back in 1992.
Organisationally, it was driven by a McKinsey alumni whose idea of a human system’s culture was to sack the percentage of least “numbers-performing” individuals year-in and year-out. The compound impact of that was to assemble a mass of human beings whose greatest competence was lying, and win-lose emotional hatreds of every kind.
When you also model how Enron started defrauding poor places like India of billions of dollars from early 1990s on, and was sponsored by the US government in doing so — “buy this from Enron or we’ll put trade restriction on you” — then in systems terms, one can draw the finding that accountants and Enron were one of root causes of 9/11.
The issues for accountancy 2.0 are argued a by book Alan Mitchell recommended to me, Profit Beyond Measure, by Johnson and Broms. Intangibles measurement crisis reports of 2001 take this further, including this downloadable one from the EU: udies/intangible_economy_hleg_report.pdf.
My forecast is that economists 1.0 and measurers 1.0 will destroy the world unless we start turning their laws round soon. Numbers are unnatural laws that are unsuitable for governing the best of human relationship behaviours by. That’s why the story of the map that changes the world is:
· Positive scenario: let’s open source maps and change every leadership discipline’s logic.
· Negative scenario: the world (worth humans living in ends.
I am not sure there is an in-between scenario. I would invite people who have stared at the map for a while and added in their own favorite topographical features to sketch for me what that could be.
the revolutionary challenge of it all
If you move over to thinking about the dynamics of Economics 2.0 you get to the stage where you believe the deepest experts in Economics 1.0 are blind and completely unworldly. And yet they are the powers that be! So how do you politely re-educate them and all their neighbouring professions which equally profit from the old numerical constructs ruling over us? And is there time for politeness anyway?
For sure, it sounds naïve when I say — but this is all I can think of — just put a map in everyone’s hands and hope the mass of the 1.0 uneducated become so simply true in the human analyses they come up with that the old professions feel compelled to listen, and fundamentally change their ways.
With economics, this is 90% guesswork on my part. However I have lived with that for a decade in my area of deep knowledge: corporate branding. And I have had very little impact in moving the huge vested interests in branding 1.0. Meanwhile critics without a solution like Naomi Klein are celebrated as world celebrities by the mass media (another deafening and blinding hand to constructive human senses).
So, also being a mathematician, the map is defined to be right by definition on the assumption of human connectivity. It’s time now to find converts who can apply and refine it. Branding, economics, and so on need resurrection and 2.0’s reinforce each other just as much as 1.0’s. We have to champion best use of the mapping standard as changing all professions around the same time.
By building in a way that almost all content can be communally and dynamically managed, we hope to connect enough opinion changers of every sort of professional or management framework persuasion to get human in the way they advise leaders to value organisational systems.
The target must be to downsize quarterly numbers auditing and models framed on these assumptions by a half, so that our tools can promote the other half of the way that leadership teams interact with organisations of human beings and relationship systems.
The competitive advantages of evolving to the 2.0 way are huge provided you have confidence in investing in medium-term responsibilities as at least the equal of short-term numbers. This is the basic proposition of all system dynamics, learning organisation people. Yet strangely, as far as I can find out, they have never empowered their ideas with one common mapping dynamic
One good use of the map is to overlay a book’s core connecting arguments on top of it. In this way you can learn more about what is already explicitly on the map. You can also add more topographical detail for that profession or application. Finally, you maintain a common translation framework for quickly translating one book’s body of knowledge to another. All of this is to draw professions 2.0 into a higher order of common intelligence than separated professions 1.0.
The game’s afoot, and we need many related creative games if we’re to change to a more humanly inspired world.
measurement mysteries
To be or not to be. What to measure, so that organisations and people are valued truly? This is the systematic question uniting all members and communities in standardising our map and worldwide practice.
Is measuring dull? No: it is about watching where our lives go. Questions:
· Do you know the four connecting organisational practices which determine whether a company’s future value will grow?
· Do you know the one measurement practice with no explanatory power whatsoever?
· Do you know which connections have the capacity to create social value including trust, commitment, emotional engagement?
· Do you know how to create a system in which learning is shared? In which actions can be prioritised simply?
For brand practitioners and others concerned with intangible wealth creation, it’s the great detective story of our times: how do social relationships create economic value.
valuation on the verge of a breakdown
Today we map and model because no common business language exists. Roughly speaking there are four core (and connecting) value drivers to consider:
· Efficiency: Structuring and changing an organisation so that performance standards are as high quality and low cost as humanly possible
· Relationship integrity: Responsibility for integrity of stakeholder relationships sustainability and learning dynamics as a system environmental interactions of leadership
· Uniqueness: Uniqueness of purpose and community, of vision and values: identifying a relentless desire to make a truly human difference
· Openness: Connecting people openly and knowledgably to minimise politics and lies. In knowledge-age companies, we people — our learnings and self-confidences — are a prime-time networking resource, not a cost. Commitment and emotional engagement cultivate worthwhile behaviours. Escort the industrial-age manager who timed and motioned people off the organisational map.
In the previous century organisations became measurable to — and were led by — a misplaced measurement monopoly: numbers summarising historic quarterly periods. Instead of connecting, they separated people. Instead of transparency, they hid assumptions.
Resulting big future shock: Historic numbers tell a company nothing about whether its valuation is on the verge of breakdown.
is marketing ready to lead?
“value strikes back” is what the marketing profession could lead other professions in doing if it wants to go back up the credibility ladders both socially and businesswise. Imagine what marketers could do if they took half the insight of the following books, which have more insight on corporate branding than many marketing books even though their writers don’t use a marketing or brand vocabulary:
· Built to Last (1994) by Collins & Porras, the classic book proving that alignment (identifying and valuing an unique purpose to preserve core and stimulate progress) is the most valuable thing company leaders can relentlessly do if they wish to sustain value delivery for all their audiences.
· Managing Interactively (2000) by Mary Boon, which explains how internal communications is the most vital thing a knowledge-age company can do, and clarifies how enormous are the possibilities/human qualities of interactive communications once you’ve got over that they require a lot more than broadcasting image campaigns
on the menu for brand transparency
Various ideas contributed include:
· personal brand
· brand issue leadership circles
· transparency valuation mapping and tracking systems
· brand humanity manifesto
· brand visual chartering
· brand honesty review
· brand learning loops
· branding transparency certification
never over
I am concerned that we don’t position transparency as something that will be done and dusted once corruption is swept away. My research into intangibles shows that what accountants have compounded over the last 10 years leave honest global boards completely blind of most value dynamics. This leads to the argument that we’ll live through a long depression unless we start rolling out system maps and getting every discipline to start specifying transparency activities it can do.
Partly because of the weird treatment I’ve had from academia — two weeks ago they hated the term “branding transparency” but now that Worldcom’s on their lips it is apparently suddenly respectable — and partly because the UK Marketing Society has managed to schedule a conference in mid-July on how to get closer to finance just when every other function is freeing themselves, I’ve been sketching some thoughts which are intended either to permeate professorial grey cells or blind them.
I have had three visits to Cranfield in nine months and been awarded the big brother back door each time even though I was directly invited to explain what I meant by new consumer or new valuation or revolting against the economic costs of old branding and marketing.
Old economists and policy-makers are completely inept. As one keynote speaker recently said, they are systematically so much in each other’s pockets that they dare not look forward any more. They feel a safety in numbers, which is actually the most terrifying of cultural risks, because we have no high-level investigators daring to ask the real questions, nor debating spaces for that which the mass media’s “balance” would ever cover.
Two personal conclusions:
· Academia, never again for me unless they have signed a contract that they want me doing my “future shock” role, and will listen before they go into their modes of this doesn’t connect with precedences nor scientific numbers, which of course was the shock I’d said from the first second I was trying to facilitate consideration of.
· Email and powerpoint presentations in real time are too blunt to communicate the systematic arguments for maps that change the world. That’s why we’re trying some experimental methods at In parallel, a leading journalist is editing the fieldbook with the stewardship of the one person in what is now called Monday-Wonderland (a trade joke amongst brand gurus for PCW grey suits who now call themselves Fresh as Monday) who is confident about human futures.
Apologies for the complexity of something which should be very simple and valuably human 2.0. It seems that in order to evolve beyond an industrial age, we the people will get the worst of both worlds before the best (if we get that far). The troublesome parallel is that the very immobility and lack of connectivity meant that Luddites could do the whole world much harm — but that’s not true of this revolutionary change era.
conflict & poor world resolutions
Two exciting pathways on my explorers’ mind of late:
· The people at are designing the content managing facilities for They are among the world’s leading experts in designing web communities of interest aimed at facilitating serious global conflicts between people involved and who care before mass media glares in. There are in my view clear parallels for resolving Corporate Social Responsibility Branding. In particular, global corporates should now be diverting some of their ad spend to narrowing poor world gaps as proof of better transparency (and once you’ve kept the promise, better promotion).
· I’m a fan of Trompennar’s & Hampden-Turner’s work, which suggests every conflict is an opportunity to find a higher value resolution. In their view, unresolvable conflicts are a sign of being stuck in a vicious system circle which could be turned virtuous. Whether it’s true that all conflicts could be resolved through better systems architecture will be interesting to explore. (I am pretty sure that most of marketing’s troubles as a profession stem from the perception that it adds more cost and risk than value.) In fact, when you start to walk the valuetrue map and observe the multitude of current organisational disconnects, the opportunities to improve the value of organisation seem to be tremendous and as easy as getting people to join the map.
If you view organisations as living systems of human relationships, as I do, then connectivity is the crucial measure of their productivity. Connectivity can be measured with maps that display clearly who is connected to whom, how, and why. Without them, a company cannot surface the weak spots where people’s knowledge, beliefs and actions are at great risk of being disconnected — or already are.
In map-less organisations, management complains about things like the complexity of the modern world. Stay blind to competitive advantages of simplicity that mapmakers enjoy, and shareholders will devalue your complex company.
The valuetrue community benchmarks weak spots in researching system transparency. Here’s a sample:
Intangibles Connectivity
· Intangibles are valued as separate assets. This destroys the connectivity of human processes through which service and knowledge values flow.
· Employees are timed and rewarded for separate transactions, not sharing knowhow. The industrial-style (“time and motion”) organisation commands and controls, instead of facilitating knowledgeable (“promise and emotion”) networks and self-confidences.
· Employees cannot see all the promises and matching value demands the company is making across stakeholders.
· Innovation isn’t road-mapped in a way that inspires interpersonal participation in making a difference.
Stakeholder Mapping
· Connectivity of stakeholder relationships is not dynamically understood. Result: reputation is at risk.
· Communally listening to and learning from stakeholders is given less weight than communicating at them.
Leadership Valuation
· Failure to consistently invest in what customers value (e.g. the business model of number-crunchers orders service companies not to invest in training people!)
· Immature process of valuing stakeholder conflicts. Sustainable priorities and responsibilities are ignored.
· The most powerful stakeholders compound their demands. No continuous assessment of loyalty erosion to community of stakeholders.
· CEO fails the interpersonal curiosity question: among employees I don’t know, whose skills most need to be interactively networked organisation-wide? Practice and innovation communities get lost.
· Politics and negative employee emotions reign as employees sense that organisation is making promises it doesn’t know how to keep. No organisational map to walk around.
· In an environment of smarter systems, your identity is despised.
transparency standards multidisciplinary catalogue
Do you represent a human discipline profession? We invite all experts or passionately curious to join in submitting a slide on how transparency will change their practice.
Meanwhile, in six areas of early research feedback — strategy, brand marketing, creativity, knowledge management, net and web futures, elearning and appraisals — transparency changes just about everything that needs doing.
This comes as little surprise to valuetrue cartographers who are concerned to change business worlds with the three-in-one human learning connectivities of:
· getting professions to teamwork seamlessly as equals
· relentless passion for integrity and dynamics of serving all stakeholder relationships
· conflict resolution at the heart of the business model
This is also to be expected since transparency unleashes what the European Union calls the Angel-networking values:
· build on smart relationships
· act as a living system
· to be open, transparent, excellent, think big
And then there are the case studies of those professions that business newspapers are now calling least trustworthy and most opaque professions. Those whose business case self-centredness cause them to try to rule over organisations and short their systems until they have pushed the living relationships of organisational value so far that society has had to take over, and call for a wholly new responsibility standards of leadership.
Clue: those professions who are least willing to change their own business case have no right at all to prescribe the new multidisciplinary transparency standards.
how to understand branding so as to facilitate transparency
Key definitions of branding appropriate to Transparency Research include:
· Brand as promise that aligns the organisation
· Brand as stakeholder/relationship capital
· Brand as communal organising charter of common purpose and action learning
· Brand as investment architecture connecting other intangible investments and human relationship system decisions made by the board
· Brand as 2 — way communication and research channel of value demands of stakeholders
· Brand as cultural/emotional code of service values
dimensions of the measurement crisis
Tangibles measurement systems over-rule all other knowledge systems and cultural values. It is lack of appropriate measurement, not lack of technology, which is delaying new economies of the Imagination Age.
The measurement architecture which we choose to design will have huge business and social consequences. Get this right and we’ll enable humans to be as productive as their hearts desire.
win-win vs. win-lose
Dynamic and networked win-wins energize value productivity.
Win-loses energize value destruction.
The biggest risk is operating on a win-lose business model. It literally causes hatred. Not only that but the injured party may actively strike back and/or coopt other stakeholders to devalue you.
Leaders enable customers to add their own value to the transaction.
A critical difference exists between a transaction and a promise. The former are over right away. The latter are valid for much longer. Don’t you think that a brand promise should be kept for at least 3 years into the future?
Brand value in a networked, transparent world means caring about value wants from the stakeholder’s own viewpoint — not just the value the company wants to provide.
In addition, value may be monetary, or not. Moreover, if monetary, the question may be whether the customer can make money from your brand as well as vice versa (e.g. in the case of many knowledge products such as software).
In a relationship exchange, a change of value delivery to one stakeholder group usually affects other groups even if the effect occurs on a time lag.
brand energy and the networked stakeholder
Trends like globalisation, ‘nets (Inter- and Intra-), and transparency make a new communal dynamic core to the value audit of intangibles. Be prepared for web-like relationship impacts within a stakeholder group. You no longer have passive individual stakeholders but energetic fans or foes.
Brand Energy is to relationships in the networked age what awareness was to transactions in the age of advertising.
Marketing multiples relationshp value for all of a company’s stakeholders by organizing transparent value exchanges. (See writings by Drucker, Levitt)
If you are foolish enough to continue believing in opaqueness you will do things like transaction gains for a few short-term insiders, destroying value for all other stakeholders, including pension shareholders, society, employees, and customers alike.
making the commitment
Unfortunately there are many ways that a company or its leaders can lose transparency. Of course this causes waste, and over time puts the value of the whole organisation at risk.
As it rapidly becomes the “cause celebré” of our times, the danger is that governing bodies will congratulate themselves for correcting the most extreme abuses of transparency without remedying ones that make organisational systems chronically ill.
In other words they may correct the extreme frauds of 2000, 2001, and 2002 that have enabled some companies to pretend they were worth billons of dollars when they were worth nothing, but fail to map more detailed aspects of transparency which ultimately explain whether an organisation will be a productive or destructive place to work for most of its people.
Over time it is the transparency system failures that depress us all economically compared with what could have been. For example, if many of the dotcoms had been in a less titanic financial and promotional rush, the ‘Net’s sustainable business and social uses would look very different — and humanly exciting — today.
lost transparency register
Please help us extend this list of transparency issues — e.g. email in types of lost transparency not registered below, or stories which show why transparency is something we must all take responsibility for championing every day and in every simple way.
Roughly in order of immediacy of abuse:
Outright at the top or pressure caused on any person to gamble uncontrollably with a company’s resources (sometimes in ways that the organisation has institutionalised as not gambling though anyone else in the world would spot the addiction)
Failure to question integrity
Not asking whether a leadership process lives up to its name in a sustainable way or over time betrays the promise its name implies. In fact, every term that purports to be about relationship value — e.g. “Shareholder Value Analysis,” “Customer Relationship Management,” and so on — needs to be mapped. Does the organization use the promise of the name to transact with their stakeholders until promises become lies, and relationships explode?
Failure to measure productivity
Compound failure of auditors to map what drives sustainable productivity due to a measurement focus that is largely careless of future system dynamics, and which permits legislation of complex accounting principles that become more to do with preserving their administrative grip on big business than modelling how the integrity of relationship value is produced or destroyed. Technically this area of lost transparency is known as the intangibles measurement crisis.
shareholder value analysis
Consider the misleading cases of Shareholder Value Analysis in detail. There are cases of SVA which have been:
· Corrupt, meaning complex schemes that have hidden illegalities, or just buckets full of lies and betrayals
· Technically legal but only in a few insiders interest to the detriment of every other shareholder
· Precisely right within the boundaries of the short-term model but either systematically destructive of human relationships or involving huge risks by delaying an investment which should have been on the organisation’s critical list.
The crucial question to map: Is SVA being applied to the benefit of all shareholders including pensioners or just to a small segment who have most to gain from short-term volatility in the share price perpetrated with no care about the risks of destroying shareholder value in a year’s time?
This question needs to be asked in the light of what reward schemes are in place that may incentivise a few individuals with hundreds of millions of dollars if a short-term goal is met irrespective of all subsequent consequences.
the courage to look
Please note that when you compound something that is out of focus 40 quarters in a row, something that starts with small disparities between numbers and how human relationships are cultivated, it becomes over a decade of vicious misrepresentation of every way in which stakeholders would truly value an organisation.
Today, the likelihood is that most big businesses have lots of lost transparencies lurking all through the system. Some of these disconnects are stocking up big risks, some make the organisation an emotionally depressing and politically a lying place to work in, and some simply distract the organisation’s spirit from relentlessly innovating or doing good in the world and its environments.
All of these lost competitive and social advantages can be mapped by leaders brave enough to do win-win analysis transparently. This means being openly prepared to confront any win-lose conflicts such a relationship audit surfaces.
slaves of business administration
The misguided auditing monopoly has caused most of the human relationship disciplines to become disconnected from each other. The result is that they are unable to make knowledgeable or social arguments for resources that go beyond the time and business-unit divided cases framed by MBAs.
Another way to put this is that many MBAs have been trained to be disaster areas in anything that connects to:
· the system dynamics of human relationships
· simplifying knowledge-sharing and actions
· communities that learn
In short, they don’t “get” practices and personal networks which are the defining economic productivities of our future. These are opportunities to grow not only economically but also socially — in fact the two go hand in hand.
As people and organisations we can and should be proud of and passionate in energising with inspiring human behaviours.
Transparency means that all employees should have open access to how relationship systems are mapped. They also need to know what particular stakeholder segments most value your organization’s delivery on its brand promise at any given time.
Value, as any human being innately knows, productively integrates short-term gain with things that inspire trust, learning, good spirits and other things that make our human race and whole world special and interdependent. To licence organisational forms that do the very opposite is not only irresponsible but destructive. Do this to the nth degree — as numbers measurements have — and it won’t be just organisational bubbles that burst but whole societies. That is why transparency must be the most public of all agendas if we are to enjoy an age where every human being’s powers are becoming increasingly connected and where relationship trust will prove all the world’s leading religions right when they claim transparency — in the form of relationship reciprocity — to be the golden rule connecting everything else that human beings can or will do unto each other.
open letter to a senior european academic i disagree with — 1
Let’s start by being absolutely frank about why I can at the same time bear you no personal grudge but want nothing more to do with your academic system unless you find a way to accommodate my wishes on this. My request is not an unreasonable thing since I was proposed as the SIG leader on this and have been utterly consistent that all I wanted to talk about was a practice-led value revolution. Let’s also be clear that I prize intellectual argument as long as it is openly debated.
If you actually audited my writing on brand since 1989 when I wrote the first whole book on brand ever published, you will find that I have helped coin most of the terms that moved the brand from advertising-only territory to the centre of brand leadership and the intangibles economy.
By “helped coin,” I mean explicitly contacting strategic gurus to get their joint permission to scoping a term in language that connects the brand with their constructs.
Connections work through ambiguity, getting different disciplines to resolve the tension of ambiguity they first see in a new pairing of names: Brand Architecture, Brand Reality, Brand Living Script, Brand Identity System & Essence, Death of Brand Management and so forth. This is how translation of ideas works in practice worlds when evolution dictates we have to change fast.
I find it absolutely disgraceful how few times academics actually refer to my source work. Usually for one of two reasons: he’s not in our country (the USA academia does this to Europe’s academia in a way that even some of your own protest) or he’s not in our system.
The main topics of modern corporate brand leadership, as a curriculum, were developed first by myself or my friends and with strategy/economics sponsors or by translating constructs already in use in Japan, and none are systematically referenced by academia as such.
I have long ago given up wondering whether I should have taken more aggressive legal action about this and on balance decided it is part of the cost of an open source policy though a disappointing side effect of how academia no longer guards the chronology of where concepts evolved, and blurs this by slightly changing terms so that it might take you a little time to see where one topic was rooted in another.
However, what I will not accept is any suggestion that I do not have a right to scope the next new topic of Brand Leadership that practitioners are begging for so that our profession doesn’t end up being completely humiliated by Naomi Klein and other human good critics.
It is also not the first time that a resident of London Business School has called my efforts “silly” in striving to innovate new connections between brand and other disciplines. It happened when I was assembling a special issue on Living Brand Reality and was told “we don’t wish to contribute to such a silly subject.”
Bottom line:
I am not of the mind nor mood to be blocked by anyone from a right of freedom of speech to debate Branding Transparency. If your SIG structure is not inclusive enough to permit this, let’s terminate this whole process’s spending of my time now.
Do remember please that I neither get a cent nor any status credits from all the publication paraphernalia that Journals etc. put in place to make competition fair within your system.
It happens too that the practitioner members of the editorial board of a journal like JBM are close to the point of collectively revolting at the way our voices are increasingly restricted in a journal that originally we did the most to found. (Look at the sequence of the contributions to the journal in the first 2 years of its being if you need to verify that.)
Your system of academic science and precedence destroys connections with Brand Practice challenges — at a time of huge economic and structural changes in the media themselves. as well as the knowledge-circulation possibilities of organisational identity and values — in ways that are depressing.
And when it comes to the topic of brand and intangibles valuation and measurability, academia has been a silent conspirator in the destruction of intangible economics which a proper practical framing of Branding in the boardroom could have avoided.
Where it has taken research funds from accountants to try to spin Marketing at a Crossroads (Coopers & Lybrand 1994) and to perpetuate numbers as the monopoly measurement profession governing organisation, it has taken ignorance of the relationship capital concept of branding to the stage that causes Enrons — financial untransparency of the most hateful and greedy kinds.
I can model these things because I have a first class degree in mathematics, and I know that numbers were never intended to be the model for representing the system dynamics of human relationships of a connected networking and global age.
· model separation not connectivity
· compound past static snapshots not sustainable future value dynamics
· professionalise the legality of burying of assumptions (not their communal win-win surfacing of conflicts with real life problems)
· legitimise command and control power systems through profiting on people’s ignorance not open transparent productivity.
To update the history of Rome’s decline and fall, numbers is the fiddle on which our civilisation will be ruined unless we start talking up Branding Transparency.
It is fitting that a Big 5 numbers company dies on its own relationship incompetences, and timely to promote a debate of Branding Transparency now while one of the world’s top strategy gurus promotes the term Transparency Strategy.
(oh lucky man that he is that residents of academia are not querying whether that coupling of terms has ambiguity and instead he has multimillion dollar corporate syndicates egging him on — — and presidential support for the quality of transparency standardisation — see
I am attaching the Brief on the purpose of this SIG which I request to be circulated in Nottingham conference materials so that it can be debated and then torn up if that is the will of your majority. As you may read I have added a front end to it explaining the research context in which this is already regarded with respect and dedication.
Either we go ahead with this scope along the terms chartered in the attachment, or deal me out of your UK SIG altogether. Please and thank you.
sincerely, chris macrae
open letter to a senior european academic i disagree with — 2
We gave 2 important talks yesterday at the Academy of Marketing SIG, codenamed Branding Transparency, on the status of marketing in organisations, and whether organisations have a transparent system that sustains value creating for the people they serve. I must go on record of saying that two minute talks are not the mode of communication on this topic that I usually accept because my experience is that no serious meaning can be negotiated in that format alone, especially in front of an audience of highly disciplined minds. And this is why I have taken the time to write you quite a long mail contextualising one simple question which is core to our mutual understanding.
In your talk, I counted the number of times you said you see Chris we are talking about the same problem and solution: 13. In the other talk I attended (by some fluke) the myth that my 15 years of practice literature on brand leadership matches your academic definition was also explicitly referred to (at least it’s a myth to me until our languages connect in terms that my poor brain feels happy about).
So that academics never have any residual doubt about what I map brand leadership to integrate in the way its power touches everything an organisation does: kindly visit and see the Medinge communique posted there. This language is not how the average academic is teaching people to refer to my work on the productivity of intangibles, and I happen not to like wholesale mis-referencing. (It leads to the extreme ignorance of understanding in the way the business media alternates its reporting from Nologo camp to Prologo camp and nothing deeper about the human condition that business system transparency organises.)
Unfortunately my slow-to-process mathematical mind, when reflecting on system details of a global organisation scale, does not parse things well in real-minute time periods. I think I only definitely agreed with 2 of the 13 things your talk said we commonly work on, but this mail is about trying to improve that batting average. It would be useful to do so since the topic of transparent wealth creation is the business challenge of the moment we are at. (My father, a leading economist, also thinks it’s the defining social challenge of whether we ever get to a networking age but then what do futurists know other than their records of guessing vaguely right — see
Even if the challenge is smaller, it is the one that our career reputations are openly about trying to do some good in addressing.
Here is where I think we agree:
Currently, marketing has little authority with the CEO/Board. There is an axis of trust and common language between the CEO and CFO which commands “the way we do things around here”. Moreover what gets measured is what gets done — so things like vision and values and all other learning organisational brand glues, if they are unmeasurable, are valueless constructs because their talk never gets walked.
I believe that our 11 fundamental areas of disagreement stem from whether we see the same picture and what forward interpretation must be progressed with such a pictured state of affairs.
For example, you say you must know the picture the CEO is sitting in and talk a language (s)he can use: your constructs of “inward cash flow” and other metrics being a way to give more granularity to cash flow as a core process every CEO must understand. In comparison, I heard you also rubbish — with due irony — the possibility of values-based approaches succeeding given the natural conflicts that circulate inside organisations.
I say that an organisation that doesn’t control cashflow is dead but there is also more to life, economics, leadership and value creation. Cashflow well-done gives permission to invest in and organise doing “marketing-more”. This is about putting deep human relationship integrity in the core promises a company makes, not making gestures and projecting images reflecting corporate responsibility.
Moreover, society as a stakeholder does not get called in often to judge organisations and professions but when it does, it is the ultimate judge, and has the absolute right to declare that the reality of a billion-dollar reputation has become such a rotten state that it is worth nothing.
When David Maister, the senior guru adviser to big professional firms, candidly says the definition of the professional has in the last decade become: “to monetise as fast as possible,” an informed public can ask if that is the essence of professionalism they wish in their midst. I would prefer that professions are valued for open transparency and will side with every social movement that believes human beings are most creative in useful ways where relationship reciprocity is respected.
The Internet — as envisaged by economists since 1984 — turns out to be more than a jolly useful responsibility tool when used by socially concerned people who have integrity in the conflicts they would like to see resolved. It also turns out that strategy gurus have started to craft a CEO language of how transparency can be turned into competitive advantage (
It also turns out if you look at the writings and culture of The Economist up to the time (1988?) that it put the brand dead-centre of the leadership agenda in the year of the brand, that transparency was the implied assumption backing the ideology of free competitive markets. This was the issue the paper made its name on in going from a 4th ranked national weekly to arguably the top ranked global business magazine.
I have the distinct impression that the trust states with which Boards sit in relationship to their whole organisation has become dysfunctional. This is based not only on having met Board members myself but from interviewing human resources, knowledge management, and intangibles valuation researchers who are at the top of their fields. This is the core of the transparency crisis. And it is not, in 99.9999% of cases, because of any corruption on the board’s part, but because of the information flows that they can actually see — which have become professionally legislated to be less and less about people relationship value over a decade when this pattern has become the main source of competitive advantage. (85%, if you are to take the market’s assessment of this is case of S&P 500 Index).
We seek to downsize the attention given to quarterly numbers auditing by half (it should be 80% but then half sounds less frightening a paradigm shift to CEOs and enough for transparency strategists to prove their case for open professionalism) so that true attention can be networked around an organisation on how relationship value productivity is won or lost.
This distinction matters because our point of argument revolves round the following question: How dysfunctional a state must the group of 10 people in a board — who govern 40,000 employees and through them serve millions — be with the rest of their organisation before things change from saying, “we must speak their language” to “we must find a map which helps them change their language.” 
Today, what is deemed as measurement overtrumps all other sharing of learning and actions in an organisation of knowledge workers. Peter Drucker has consistently warned that we have not understood the living significance that measurement has, if we wish to grow human productivity beyond the mechanistic cogs of industrial age to something more inspiringly productive of every human being’s right to make and network a difference as best as we are each able because we have transparent information links that communally put us right. He also said that (circa 1950) that he separated the discipline of marketing to look after something a little bit more systematic in value and its time dimensions that those who are part of the cost of counting. Our profession should either abandon the organisational map altogether or get back to what our founding contract within organisations was defined to be.
sincerely, chris macrae
what if a profession doesn’t openly roadmap the future of its transparency?
OK, this question may not exactly roll off the lips too well, but I got 3 emails yesterday which surfaced it:
· The latest of an absurd series of conference-selling mails from my own Marketing Society. This one’s announcement appears to be on how Research International has proved global branding doesn’t exist!
· Earlier in the day, Paul sent me a mail on how a downturn in McKinsey’s business may force it to question its own business model. Interesting if pure management consultancy is going through a transparency crisis when we’ve already seen that the Big 5 who were traditionally accountancy co-branded feel they must make an exit from crisis — at least that’s how I interpret PWC becoming Monday.
· Before that, having been relayed an email of a recent New York Times article which asks: Is accountancy helping capitalism to commit suicide? The thought that raced through my mind: it will be disastrous if policy makers see the transparency crisis as only being about cleaning up outright corruption.
I would like to suggest that professions compound transparency problems, turning them into system crises, when — confronted by an irreversible change — they seek to avoid changing their business model however much it (and society) is interdependent on the change.
Worse, as professions they use their powers to legislate professional correctness so as to obscure understanding of the organisational impacts of the change even as the whole world (outside the profession) is busy accelerating it.
Accounting as an example
In my view, the big story of the transparency crisis is that something like this happened to the whole global accounting profession about 10 years ago. As intangibles — meaning humanly interconnected processes — took over in explaining the majority value of an organisation’s productivity, they failed to say: “Sorry, but numbers can only report half of what’s now shaping an organisation’s performance.” Instead, their vested interest — in maintaining a gatekeeping monopoly to all boardrooms — legislated more and more bureaucratic coda on how to force-fit one numerical algorithm to all sorts of different dynamic contexts of relationship capital, and bred more and more of these algorithms by their professional book. For example, Enron compounded one of these algorithms 400 times to take all its loss-making units off of its books.
In fact, the accounting profession has created dozens, if not hundreds, of these technical laws so that its audits could appear to continue to represent the whole company’s performance. In the real world, this profession’s definition of “productivity” and “value dynamics” is lost in the growing presence networks and other human process connectivities. In the process, either all meaning is lost or it is so opaque that it is blinding most honest boards as well as the few corrupt ones.
If this argument is correct, corruption is only a minor chapter of the transparency story. The big one is that we’re condemned to the depression of system-failing organisations all around until we map our way out of the numbers-audit-monopoly view of measuring corporate performance.
Management Consulting as another example
Management consultants have significantly compounded the problem caused by accountants, both as allies to “precise-numbers thinking is all leaders need to control” and through their main additional product of “cut costs by cutting down people.”
Whilst this was originally of some value in over-fat and pre-digital organisational mountains of paper, this product’s business case has been perpetrated too long. It sells itself on the inevitably improved results in the short-run, before medium-term vicious system impacts kick in, by which time the “man-con” has moved on to slicing off another part of the company.
Surely there is an outright contradiction between claiming we’re in an age where productivity is most dependent on connecting knowledge workers and the traditional management consultant’s flagship service of people-cutting.
And then — not to be outdone in the hard and costly addiction of numbers-administrators — there is our own Marketing Society, whose lack of a transparency vision for the profession has devalued our reputations versus other professions as well as our social credibility. Surely, only our Society could still be promoting a conference on how marketers must be made more accountable to financial measurement just as all other professions are distancing themselves from numbers men. Or only our Society could team up to deny the existence of global brands — with a researcher that makes money by accentuating local complexity — when every driver of business is being amplified by the dynamics of markets seen through a worldwide context.
Worse, by failing to share a transparency roadmap of our profession, we fail to seize the two great change advantages that could create a genuine reality of marketing value-add:
· the value exchange stakeholder mapping system that every company needs to be transparently measurable to
· the investments in brand architecture that drive how organisational leadership touches everyone.
As always, powerful economies — of which the world’s hundred biggest comprise 51 corporate and 49 nations — may touch human beings in good and responsible ways, blindly uncaring ones, or absolutely evil ones. The truth is that global brands are instruments being played everywhere that organisations and leaders exercise system power. The global branding question is, “What tunes will these systems be used to play?”
As one final irony, please note that professions too are global brands. Shall we grow the world in good ways or destroy it because our professions were too ignorant to dare question their own transparencies?
do you know how to make social capital your company’s core competitive advantage?
Social capital, also known as relationship capital, is set to be this century’s core driver of competitive advantage among large companies. Social capital is also the means by which corporate leaders can make the knowledge economy tangible for everyone the company employs.
There are three main levers to clarify when it comes to social capital: purpose, knowledge and measurement. Many executives, including those in the leadership team, HR and marketing, have new roles to play. It is likely that the role of HR in value creation will soon be much greater than ever before.
Linguistic confusion, together with the fact that social capital involves a new, multidisciplinary approach, helps to explain why this source of competitive advantage has been slow to develop in many companies. Consider the word “intangibles,” which many boardrooms now claim to be their largest asset. This word’s unglamorous ring comes from the last century when accountants coined the term to mean “what we can’t count precisely” the way they enjoyed doing for each separate tangible asset.
In fact, two different measurement worlds are drifting apart.
· One is for anyone who wants to grow companies or to promote industry’s future productivity, as the EU does with its current request for proposals on new intangible measurement systems.
· The other is for those management accountants who cling to their ancient nostrum of separability even though the only way to make intangibles work is by connecting them together.
The truth is, intangibles are never the sum of their parts. They are always far more or far less than the sum depending on how brilliantly cultured their connections are. Logically, this should not surprise us as almost all intangibles involve human relationships, or other intellectual capital components which only have a value when being applied (“socially”) to connect human beings.
“Unique purpose” is now known to be the most valuable of the social glues that can be used to keep large organisational systems fit. This discovery was made by organisational development experts Collins & Porras and published in their 1994 book Built to Last. Comparative analysis revealed that companies which constantly stimulate progress round one core human purpose produce, over a generation, an order of magnitude of greater wealth and social benefits for all their stakeholders to enjoy. Company purpose is lived in everyday relationships between co-workers when fit and distinct values are embedded through the company’s culture and systems.
Purpose also aligns a company — or a community — so that people are both proud to share knowledge, and passionate to action it in pursuit of the overall human cause. The perfect information technology of your company’s knowledge management system will be powerless if employees fail to share the purpose-driven spirit of knowledge-sharing.
Moreover, simplicity gurus in the USA have confirmed the ever-growing human priority of purpose by observing that knowledge workers must now be ready to encounter a doubling of information every three years. Without purpose instinctively simplifying which information people select to use — and circulate — knowledge workers will drown in the waves of digital information that ‘nets of all kinds are increasingly propagating.
Both purpose and knowledge ultimately get over-trumped in a corporate context if the company employs measurement systems which are all blind to social capital.
Adding to this complexity is the fact that the measurement standard which companies need to grow win-wins between stakeholders over a relationship time — three to five years out — has only just begun to emerge. A win-win is measurably achieved whenever gain of value for one stakeholder results in gain for another. For example, in a great service business where customers are delighted, front line employees also win as it is more rewarding to serve happy customers. Win-wins represent the gold standard in connecting intangibles which will sustain growth.
The good news is that the pure mathematics of the missing measurement code is very simple:
1. Specify which stakeholders your company is promising to deliver value for over the relationship time.
2. Segment these stakeholders to the levels of detail your knowledge organisation will need.
3. Understand what “value” is from the perspective of each of these stakeholder segments.
4. SWOT the win-wins and win-loses between these value wants as delivered by the model of the business you currently operate.
The devil of any pan-company measurement system is in the applied details. But further good news is that European networks of (brand) value exchange measurers are trailblazing the necessary communal practice, as you can see from links such as Unlike the Baldrige quality movements of the late 1980s, Europeans are leading the world in benchmarking how value is exchanged.
Here, I have space to introduce one example of how companies are using this measurement system: innovating extra value by developing fitter organisational designs for our networking age.
Consider a worldwide company, and those capabilities it needs to be world class but around which it cannot afford to offer full employment to all of the world’s best people.
Consider also how many of the world’s most innovative people no longer wish to be tied to just one organisation — the class of people Americans have christened “Free Agents”.
A critical part of the organisational design of this company should measurably revolve round the distinct value needs of 1) its core employees and 2) the world’s most appropriately qualified free agents.
Moreover the company must not only track its performance on separately delivering value to both of these working stakeholders but also connect win-wins between them. Failure to connect this will mean that core employees will not engage optimally in networking with the free agents. Furthermore, any teamworking expected between these two types of workers will neither be as productive nor as purposeful as it should be.
Stakeholders are people groups which your company promises to communally grow value for over a relationship time: typically, shareholders, employees, customers, partners, global & local society
Value is what consistently grows a relationship from the viewpoint of the stakeholder. Brand Value Exchanges are orchestrated by leading companies and involve not just money but human needs and longer-term aspirations.
Win-Win is achieved by delivering a value want of one stakeholder so that it positively connects to a value want of another stakeholder. (Contrast with a win-lose where delivering value to one stakeholder takes from another stakeholder.)
Purpose is the unique human idea around whose core spirit everyone in a company is aligned.
Values are internal beliefs that characterise purpose when they are faithfully acted on, and need to be embedded pervasively in a company’s culture.
Knowledge is the understanding, focus, action, and simplicity that enables knowledge workers to produce and exchange value.
Measurement is in its pure form a logical system precisely matching a performance specification. In its applied form it is also the knowledge which is interacted due to its communal direction and vision.
SWOT is an open process of auditing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Most business experts agree that Coca-Cola is the 20th century’s most valuable brand. Such a valuation is usually interpreted by the business media to mean monetary value belonging momentarily to a company’s shareholders. But a much bigger picture needs to be understood by every marketer and company who wants to achieve sustainable growth. Let’s look back with hindsight on its history of value creation.
Coca-Cola makes a natural starting point not just because of its brand valuation but because every reader will know something about it: Linguists say “Coca-Cola” is the second most commonly recognised word after “OK”.
· What did this company do that is unique and generalizable?
· What did they do that everyone valued and what actions did they take that may have only benefited a few?
· What would work valuably again in the future and what wouldn’t?
Questions like these applied to the present tense will increasingly be worth your while rehearsing in the case of any company that you invest your loyalty in.
Classical marketing textbooks describe how Coca-Cola went from a product of one of the highest-volume market categories which people repeatedly buy, to a socially admired image in which consumers find friendship and other emotionally valued meanings. A typical condensed summary reads like this:
Tangibly Coca-Cola is mostly sugar and water and a lot of fizz. Its precise recipe has been locked a way in a company vault for nearly a century and tuned to human taste buds so that if a worldwide opinion poll was held, Coke would likely be elected as the most refreshing taste on the planet. (In its classical form, of course, it’s chock full of calories: a healthy benefit for undernourished consumers in a developing nation but a not-so-good thing in developed countries where most people need to watch their weight and take care that sugar doesn’t prematurely rot their teeth.)
To this Coca-Cola’s experts in mass marketing communications have for more than a century consistently added to the brand’s character. From its founding days it has been supported by:
· a lot of top-notch advertising
· a huge distribution drive “to be within arm’s reach of desire”
· a very clearly designed system of identifiers including 2 names
· its own character scripts
· the most stylish mass marketed bottle
· the colour red
· mythologies such as Coca-Cola-dressed up Santa Claus in corporate red livery at a time when Santa’s wardrobe was far from uniform or memorable
· early and integrated adoption of every new medium
· the commitment to be visible at the hugely emotional moments of popular history — from sporting ones like the Olympics to close links with Hollywood’s produce to sampling Eastern Germans as they crossed through Checkpoint Charlie the day the Berlin Wall was dismantled
· a heritage of friendly images that transcends generations so that every new group of teenagers feels that Coke is the Real Thing to be seen with.
The marketing profession has sold itself to this kind of analysis of what its practice can do. Seemingly it reveals the corporate power to be gained by turning Coke from a product to an icon loved by consumers and praised by business gurus.
The trouble with image-making, however, is that there is only so far that this school of marketing thinking can go before it takes over from reality. By failing to anchor Coca-Colain the context of a value exchange, there is a risk that the big picture of what matters most to humanity goes missing.
Lets’ take a quick tour of how Coke’s 20th century value exchange actually included the following highlights:
· helping to build America’s modern infrastructure
· helping Americans to identify with their founding father’s vision of freedom and right of every man and woman to make the most of themselves and each other
· helping the youth of the world to translate those parts of the American ideal that are most relevant to their own dreams and vision of what their generation could contribute
These highlights were achieved in part because Coca-Cola was the biggest champion among a tribe of consumer goods brands which set out to develop an extraordinary economic system, and in part because of the visionary spirit of Coca-Cola’s founding group of people, most notably a man called Robert Woodruff.
In the developing United States of the early 20th century, Coca-Cola was one of the first businesses to commit to the system of nationwide branding. It had demand for more units of product to distribute for everyday consumption than could traditionally be handled. The emergence of the nationwide fast-moving consumer good required the building of huge infrastructures, both logistically (e.g. interstate highways) and media-wise (e.g. Hollywood, TV, national sports sponsorships) — in a country the size of a continent, and whose states started the century at incredibly different stages of development.
In effect, Coca-Cola was helping to create a new social and economic system. In his history of how mass marketing developed what was once the hugest win-win value exchange known to mankind, Alan Mitchell says this:
<<This wasn’t just a win-win system. It was a win-win-win-win marketing system.
Mass advertising and distribution created for manufacturers the confidence and demand that enabled them to invest more in research, development and productive capacity. This created powerful economies of scale and ever lower unit costs. This delivered consumers a double whammy of benefits. First, their lives were made easier by better cheaper products of incredible value compared with older handicraft methods of production and distribution. Second, they benefited from an increasing range of good quality news and entertainment at a highly subsidised rate — subsidised by the advertising that powered the growth of the media. Media owners benefited hugely because this advertising made rapid expansion of their business possible. And so did retailers who benefited from the demand created by advertising and the excitement of a never-ending stream of new products, promotions, offers etc.>>
Coca-Cola championed this system, and together with its networks of bottlers it accelerated some of the most valuable ways the system worked. Enter Robert Woodruff, mastermind of many of Coca-Cola’s best ideas during the first half of the 20th century. His biggest idea was soon to percolate through the entire value exchange system and for decades it added value to both sides of every human relationship made in Coca-Cola’s name.
Woodruff had observed people of the developing nation of the USA going through various periods when times were particularly hard. He believed that everything done in Coca-Cola’s name should produce as much to uplift people’s happiness as possible. Uplift provides a win-win currency. Robert’s inspiration was that if everybody could see that Coca-Cola was genuinely providing customers with a moment of joy, then selling and distributing and bottling that joy becomes more motivating for everybody whose working livelihood is linked to serving Coca-Cola.
Woodruff cultivated this idea in the most extraordinary social settings:
· America went through Prohibition with Coca-Cola as the closest thing to a legal libation.
· The country went through the Depression, with Coca-Cola cheerleading the human spirit in adversity.
· It went through the factorisation of workers, with Coke declaring every worker had the right to a “pause for refreshment”, and supplying vending machines so that Coca-Cola breaks could be institutionalised.
· And then there was the Second World War. Robert personally lobbied the war ministry so that in the supreme fatigue of war, every GI had a right to refreshment. And so it was that Coca-Cola got subsidies to follow American GIs wherever world war took them, delivering Coca-Cola at 5 cents per bottle.
· After the war, Coca-Cola was the nearest thing to a commercial hero at home, and in liberated countries Coca-Cola had the contacts and licence to uplift people as they went through the hard times of rebuilding the societies human beings need.
Something strange happens when a product — or the company that lives the product — provides you with steadfast moral support over many years and is socially recognised by all your peers in the same light.
In Coca-Cola’s case, across the USA this seems to have stretched to giving people self-confidence, a security in big things, a renewed belief in the American vision of individual freedom.
In the rest of the world, the outside identification of this relationship looking in, corresponds to the American Dream, the way the world looked to the USA for leadership over periods of the 20th Century. And in any survey of what the rest of the world thinks of as Americana, Coca-Cola is invariably the most frequently mentioned brand icon.
On at least one occasion, in fact, Coca-Cola explicitly felt the need to play the American ambassador by giving voice to what the world’s youth wanted from America when the White House was out of tune with this. In terms of value destruction for American youth, the Vietnam War was the US government’s worst exchange. In contrast, pop music and Coca-Cola’s “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony” provided an extraordinary image for what youth wanted the identity or ‘dream’ of America to return to. 
brand value exchange: make brands serve humans
We want to develop a more productive world where we build relationships that people value, with brands you trust, where employees feel good to work and branding is not a dirty word.
In our view, branding means (or should mean) building relationships that all stakeholders value. In our view, this clarifies what brand leadership systems do and should be measured on. Our communal experience shows that brand knowledge is most simply networked and energetically actioned where everyone believes in making business human again.
By a meaningful human relationship, we think of a mutual offer of loyalty. One in which I trust you to give some value to me and to take some value for you. Or in the strongest cases, where each of us feels devoted to giving something of value to the other. In the best exchanges, people help each other to create more value than they would have achieved without relating to each other. And there is open recognition that value may evolve on various dimensions, not just the monetary kind.
Moreover, if any relationship is to grow real human meaning, the exchanges it involves should be done over time in a way which is consistent to the trust shared, inspiring emotionally, and above all caring of my living needs, and of yours.
Of course, a communal identity such as a company which leads its industry has millions of human value exchanges to look after. Moreover, these involve different groups — such as employees, customers and owners — whose needs and expectations may vary and introduce conflicting tensions. But nevertheless, great brands and great leaders should be increasingly concerned to grow exchanges which have unique human integrity.
Integrity and growth of a value exchange demands a core focus on building “win-wins” between different people and stakeholder groups. Trust starts to erode, with the risk that lack of integrity will quickly become publicly visible, wherever an overzealous attempt to give one group of people more value is made at the serious expense of another group. Trust gaps will become greater and greater corporate risks as people with a shared stake in part of a value exchange become communally connected by the Internet.
In view of the economic and human importance of this subject it is surprising how poorly understood value exchanges are among most early 21st century leaders. In fact, we contend that the subject is often more poorly understood by business professionals than ordinary people. Naomi Klein, author of No Logo, is an ambassador of the ordinary human being. Her analysis headline is that global brands are bullies. If by that she means that many global brands are currently suffering from leaders who over-eulogise financial numbers, short-term results, and value appropriation for themselves and shareholders then she has a point. However, we don’t think she or anyone can resolve the human opportunities and risks of globalisation without developing a deeper and broader understanding of value exchanges.
Issues revolving round fairness — equity — of a value exchange explain part of the current poverty of understanding. Another explanation is that the ways for businesses and people to create value are changing faster now than any time in the last century. Intangibles — which we prefer to think of in terms of the natural connectivity of human ideas and exchanges — attract value in different ways than 20th century tangibles (which we were separable innate things). Networks of partners produce different value dynamics than separate organisations or isolated stakeholders. Knowledge, at least in a lively and fast moving commercial sense, only has most value when it is simple enough for many people to action and learn from.
Through the Internet, we, the first generation of the 21st century, have extraordinary new privileges to organise and play with value creation. But new privileges are scary until humans agree on a language for agreeing some minimum levels of common sense. Value exchange is an intrinsically human subject which everyone should feel able to talk about, not a rarified coda that masters of business administration use to rule over the way the world does business.
leaders as conversations
I wonder how the cluetrain manifesto would change its words but not its spirit if it revolved round the ideology that “leaders (CEOs) are conversations” as well as markets. Muddled as we brand authorities are by old language, the emerging genre of personal branding launched by Tom Peters at and Tom Gad/Anette Rosencreutz at is fun because before ad agencies have blinked we’ll have moved the budget away from branding product to branding people and networks, and transparent people won’t actually like be accounted for by the old numbers or imaged by the TV-spot media very much.
why not ask CEOs to help build a better world?
As a person you know you cannot travel very far without maps to orient our senses. Similarly organisations, being communities of people, cannot learn to serve much sustainable value or system good without listening to their stakeholders and mapping who represents what humanly motivating truth or need. The transparency crisis of global business today revolves round something you can test in 2 minutes if you know a CEO in any of your stakeholder capacities (shareholder, customer, employee, social, business partner).
a totally different picture of brand
What I’d really like is to come to an open acceptance that the people I am working with are building a totally different picture of brand, or the system evaluation of organisational leadership. The transparency crisis is about opening CEOs minds to a second common language of corporate governance:
· One that networks human relationships and system behaviours in truly valuable ways, open to every sincere person’s inspection and participation.
· One that my father started crusading for at The Economist in the late seventies when he started to picture with other futurists an economic shift from Internetworking to be bigger than that of going from agriculture to industrial provided we found a way to use new technology’s global connections for good before bad.
Today in more granular detail, this idea of a second language of business leadership is one that every top guru of an intangible discipline (eg Sveiby in Knowledge Management) writes books on — profiles 18 dimensions of how a new managerial language must be permitted conflict space with the old.
As a personal observation, I find it a bit sad that marketing is the one human relationship discipline which seems not to have promoted a top guru towards this second language. That’s not my finding — it’s the view of the 3 heads of reporting on the intangibles measurement crisis (Brookings, Stern, EU) all of whose research conducted in the two years up to the summer of 2001 found experts from every human discipline who testified about the need for a second measurement language except from marketing/branding. In part, these experts wrote off branding’s contribution to intangibles as being as opaque as most mischievous calculations through brand valuation algorithms which were never what most of the world’s top brand leadership authors ever condoned.
Of course, once all of the above is input into our conversation there are at least two credibility questions:
1. Is the picture (of the common language’s framework mapped at logically coherent?
The shorthand reason why our network’s research could be is that it builds on many overlapping expert’s career experiences in practical contexts. Amongst these is mine, which includes years of experience at the coalface of researching global marketing processes and benchmarking system patterns and is mathematically blueprinted. It’s been fully audited for its logical connectivities with my mathematical mind, which isn’t better than other mathematicians but is as purely rigorous as other people who have first class honours and distinction in maths.
2. Has the system got a chance that enough people will listen to it to make it standard wisdom as opposed to heresy or an abstraction that’s too much to bother with?
OK, so we need some marketing of what human good is about. Let’s say that relationship reciprocity is the rule that unites all the world’s top religions, so may your god be watching we don’t want to audit ethical bottom lines but embed them in the organising fabric. I suppose the hypothesis is that this is the primal duty of transparent leadership until someone else rebuts that.
The dissemination problem raised by questions 1 and 2 is that they take much different process than one powerpoint presentation and an audience with little common language (preparatory for the new system) to totally cross-examine. So I don’t even want to go there unless the examiners are prepared to commit to something much more involved in time than that.
brand disvaluation
As a mathematician I have previously avoided so-called brand valuation methods because I find putting precise-looking numbers on people connectivity offensive. In spite of all our work on brand connections, we can have little pride in how the average practice of branding has become more costly and less corporately responsible.
smart people
I thought I should do a quick mind dump on those that come top of mind in advancing positive aspects of transparency. (Apologies in advance for the fact that this isn’t complete, it’s what occurs to me this Sunday morning, so please fill in the errors of omission if you will.) You may already know all these links, but equally so much of my current focus is to show that the most admired 1.0 monetising professions also became the least transparent organisers on earth that there might be a danger of forgetting the positive threads that make old professional dinosaurs anyhow.
· Undoubtedly the professional leader in framing transparency as the new competitive advantage is Don Tapscott, at Don is one of the most detailed researchers of the Net generation, and transparency is the essence of what they assume the Net will bring to work and social and globally responsible lives. Whether we use the word transparency or not, I think that all the most passionate advocates of an open networked world are implicitly assuming transparency culture existing so that the clued etc. gain ground. In particular, if the architecture of agents that connect our profiles is not kept as openly transparent, all of the unique qualities of the Net go out of the window and as a medium it may become as dumbing as mass media.
· Sveiby’s work on the new values managers will need to grow people in the knowledge age seems seminal to me.
· Barry Carter’s work on win-win is crusading, and nobody can architect transparency without both being a competent win-win analyst and knowing that relationship reciprocity is the common golden rue of all the world’s leading religions — a fact we’ll probably need if our race still exists in 2020. Don’t start nailing transparency everywhere you breathe and many kingdoms will be lost forever.
· Another leading professional adviser is Bill Jensen, author of Work 2.0 (specifically the manifesto of how Net generations would design organisations so that their careers develop through all the smartest qualities Nets and e-learning bring) and Simplicity. Simplicity is about reducing all the complex paradoxes of old organisations, most of which are worsened by hidden agendas. Bill is also real interesting to contact right now as his next book invites everyone to write a letter along the lines of if you could tell your 5 or 12 year old year old the hardest real-life lessons you have learned from work in organisations, how would you write that memoir so that he or she could read it at an appropriate time and not have to learn the hard way about career development etc.
· We could get very deeply academic — e.g .Manuel Castells and Francis Fukuyama both blueprinted why new economies will always be dead ducks unless a cultural infrastructure of trust is built first. Their view is quite unlike the one our old economy has Pavloved/conditioned our human race to.
· Two economists who probably know this are Green and Stiglitz.
· Chris Kimble and Andy Swarbick know virtual community of practice and social capital more than other Brits.
· Helen Baxter hosts the EU’s, whose emerging subnetwork “the knowledge angels” is chartered on these principles: “build on smart relationships, act as a living system — to be open, transparent, excellent think big” which are close to perfect online communal values to epitomise transparency.
· Livio Hughes is the greatest architect of community that I happen to both know and live quite close to.
· David Rainey is researching why intranets have not really flown yet and has previously several years experience in consulting how to build them.
I better stop soon, but if you feel like it please introduce yourselves, and correct my errors because another aspect of transparency is to lob a mail to people who are more expert than you and hope they correct its major ignorancies.
Maybe transparency is also about what each person needs to e-learn next in the next area they most passionately want to meddle in, and having the cultural permission/tolerance to permit that as a key good practice of transparency that was regarded as a worst (most exposed) practice in 1.0 non-transparent organisational ages.
· Oops, Christine Harmel taught me that meddling is a new pursuit towards excellence.
· David Firth branded corporate fool as a truly good process.
· David Weinberger, whom I unfairly see as the man of the missing link, and any missing organisational link is a risk to transparency lost.
· Julie Anixter is my Tom Peters contact.
· I believe that with Annette and Thomas Gad the secret for brand gurus to build a transparent age is to ignore the branding of products by mass media as much as possible and to promote the branding of people networks where each person passionately and transparently has an issue in life.
These last three are the experts in why that’s the way to go
Reforming branding reminds me:
· Journalist Alan Mitchell first got CEOs to confess that old markets don’t exchange value for customers any more, and wrote the book Right Side Up on how to transparently reform this. (But then it turned out the CEOs didnt care much because they were still swimming in the old measurement cesspits.)
· Christine Arden & Danielle Blumenthal run the two most transparent brand reformation webs at and
· Tom Kitchin and Simon Anholt know some very different things from many of us about brands, including how they work at national levels.
· Steve Yastrow’s transforming buzzword is harmony — presumably a siamese twin of transparency once we amplify them more.
· John and Alan Moore are an unusual duo who believe in design creativity but only where there’s trust between all the creators, and yes great design always helps people exchange, simplify, use in ways that are mainly transparent.
· Jack Yan reminds me of that as a world class designer and the most socially concerned one I know.
· Oh yes and then there’s Temi, who would like to bring transparency to the way academia teaches marketing, bold lady, take care because I know how backstabbing works in organisations 1.0 but don’t know how it festers in academia 1.0 (which often seems to me in the area of marketing to promote science where there should be social, and to multiply terminology so that each professor copyrights a personal following, and to plagiarize the biggest transparency value constructs until their original meaning has been evaporated — but then I have this bias against most things that academia sponsored often by hard MBA disciplines) .
· Marketing’s greatest living heroes,like Drucker & Levitt, had chartered its origins as the number 1 organisational pursuit towards value transparency. Perhaps if we scope a discipline to be too big, it becomes a magnet for the greedy to enter through Trojan Horses and turn systematically vicious.
· Oops there’s the whole field of system’s theory, dynamics, learning organisation which is probably now where value marketing could have been but equally in danger of being usurped. However I’m too much an amateur in this genre to be able to introduce you to its angels.
Final clues of this peculiar flow:
· Never get drawn into a theory or practice without asking where the writer is coming from (has the frame got a vested interest in selling some specific industry?)
· Know that society must be openly involved in debating any new medium that might become powerful becauae media are the world’s 2nd least transparent systems unless their ways of exchanging value are both publicly understood for now and expertly foresseen where they will lead (mass media celebrates laers more often than truthmakers, and spins ever more viciously towards this inhuman role modelling).
· Government is of course the most dangerous of all human inventions I can think of unless its transparency is systematically evolved for our transparent networking age, but please don’t think a word like democracy is necessarily transparent just because it sounds ideal. Systems spin more subtly than that because we humans are better at spinning than questioning exactly what the spinning dynamics we are perpetrating will be leading to. Science fiction writers have often been better as transparency scenario makers than strategists.
(Hurrah I come to a full stop!)
I would like to believe that we could soon start certifying people and companies: Would it not help to be one of the first certified in Transparency Relationship Management (TRM)? In my view, most Customer Relationship Management (CRM) deliverers abuse TRM standards so much that they are only installing transaction systems, not relationship systems. I take this example because part of the idea of this standards process is to differentiate who really is supplying the Relationship word and who is not. Across the value true map we have lots of other monkey language: like when is Shareholder Value Analysis for all Shareholder Branches including pensioners, and when is it just for the segment that gains from short-term price volatility however much that weakens the longer term organisation as a value developing system?
In the future, a quality-standards government institution like the U.S. one (NIST controls how quality standards are benchmarked) could merge quality and transparency. Do you agree?
In any event, what is the route we should be taking to promote the idea that organizations serious about transparency need a common profiling structure? How can we get them to benchmark as the best way out of the value transparency gap that is currently disgracing the corporate world both as an economic and a social form? In short, how do we propose that Transparency Relationshp Management (TRM_ provides the pathway from the rotting form of Capitalism 1.0 to Capitalism 2.0?
Equally how do we require that all professional disciplines start reappraising what should be the difference between their monetizing and rival 1.0 behaviours to 2.0 behaviours which should openly connect understanding with each other?
network as emerging brand leadership typology
The key thing to note is this (and it may sure be obvious but it sure isn’t valued by 99.9999% or organizations and their measurers as of today): Intangibles productivity is mainly about human connectivity.
Yes, if we like we can say that promises harness connectivity, but only ones that are keeping their relationship of trust, not breaking it by being created separately from organising reality. We can’t use promises that are only effective in the short-term, to draw attraction to me(-toos) and so please those making quarterly numbers cases but destroy all longer-run value.
Now, some very tricky numbers person circa 1988 suddenly equated brand with all that connectivity, i.e. all the goodwill that could not be tangibly counted. It would have been better if a new word had been reserved for this connectivity because then ad agencies wouldn’t have pretended it all spun round whatever they executed (which to be fair to them was what the brand word in the West meant before 1988).
So here we are today with one hell of a transparency crisis. Accountants and ad agencies are typically the two greatest destroying forces of value sustainability because they want to Lord over it in their own separate ways. In fact, we are talking about how 85% of value is connectively produced in worldwide companies but how up to 100% can be destroyed by lousy connectivity. It is this organizational connectivity, which incidentally I would call organizational leadership but the press( following Klein) like sheep tends to call brand or logo which has become a total system failure of organisation 1.0.
Please understand this matters because corporate responsibility crisis is not just about the corrupt few but the blind many in boardrooms today who just do not map the value system connectivity (which we have no word for now and some say we should not call brand).
Join our standards community at and map this thing without a name and which is very hi-touch even if its humanly living/flowing rather that tangibly inanimate. You can call it by whatever disciplinary value title suits you as long as you embed infectiously in every other discipline too. If in so doing if we downsize both the numbers auditors and TV spot creators by half, I will be comfy that leaders have re-found unique direction again which is worthy of inspiring those all around their organisation and market system of exchange.
And then pensioners can have pensions again and other good things that flow from productivity having system patterns rather than drunken quarterly walks to the cess pits of numbers.
conversations create transactions
I do not care whether we use the B-word or another. But any company — or leader — of an identity under which people are going to purposefully commune spending lots of their time (and sometimes money) needs a model through which leadership connects communications, actions, learning, competences, whatever makes it offer unique service competences and products in a way that everything is harmonised. Moreover the resulting pattern must evolve towards truly and uniquely useful goals for all who invest a relationship in the whole.
The people I network with construct brand prototypes round any sort of human identity fitting the economics, productivities, leadership goals and transparencies of that typology making no assumption as to what its main executional medium etc. would be. Now if you have another word for all that detailing as a mega-connected process and indeed as a communication tool involving the participation of all who get represented by a nation, then let’s use your word. But to say that it is better to let the connectivity design happen by default is a systematically disastrous claim to make.
typologies of brand
As one of the founders of the Chief Brand Officer Association, I can state that one of our policies is to promote new typologies of brand in every way that our expert community has access to.
Our reasoning is that new typologies help demonstrate that branding is essentially a human instrument of organisational leadership and purposeful identity; consequently usable for good or ill.
Moreover, we seek to demonstrate that increasingly value is constructed by branding through methods where television advertising has only a bit part to play, not the one that lords over all other ways of creating nor the economics of the whole’s competence to promote.
Equally true brands earn communal trust through transparency standards of measuring system relationships and refuse any attempt to submit to the monopoly measurers view of being quarterised by numbers.
Over recent years we have played a significant role in progressing the following system constructs of branding:
· Corporate Brands as learning or living scripts involving multidisciplinary participation and relationship transparency
· Nation Brands
· Personal Brands: including people’s issue in life as a personal network
· Brands that are organised to respect global and local conventions and cultures as one and the same process of community building Relationship Capital paradigms and webs of partner — and new medium — branding
· Brand as overall community gateway
· Brand Architectures which may mix the above in their co-branding strategies across or within companies
We would very much like to welcome the discipline of the “network as brand” to our directory of typologies, and to help research and develop the idea.
weakspots and the future of measurement services
When I look at the map, I start seeing weakspots; typical disconnections; I already have about 20 and expect there are many more; this is rather as if an engineer had a blue print of say an aircraft’s weak spots and advised the organisation to keep on maintaining them.
There are definitely rules of the map; system things that can cost you an awful lot if you do not understand the whole structure; so it cost Andersen almost everything not realising that stakeholder relationship capital (or reputation) is at the extreme of bad relationship behaviour so connected that one rotten relationship can ruin the whole.
In these and other ways I would sure like to develop ‘measurement’ services and start co-promoting them at and via whomever wants to take the frontrunning of them as a possible business service. We seek to be an inter-activist community: quite simply this means we need a lot of help from you — if our cause chimes with the future you would like to map. And in return, we will try to provide you with links that help you with great content and who is doing what.
and the new god hired an accountant
and the accountant said to the new god, “it is big that you plan to go from nothing to one of the world’s 30 biggest empires in ten years, and the good news is that there are as yet no accounting rules on the estimated future value of the next 20 years of the miracles you have shown me, so I professionally authorise us to write up how to compute that.”
and the accountant said “now I have excelled myself with numbers which show your bottom 20 per cent of disciples make too few converts; so on taking the advice of a management consultant you should sack them; and make this an annual ritual and hire this consultant as your chief executing officer, and like me he’s a perfectionist with numbers”.
“but journalists and analyst networks like to propagate stories to the chattering classes about the soft side of the values of miraculously performing organisations, so let us put 5 words up on our web site as the holy grails we will advertise and viralise. This is how I audit the metrics of marketing effectiveness and I can help you count large budgets allocated to this as an investment as long as you only use the recognised accounting forms of communication to brand the value.”
“one more organisational consideration: the training of disciples has been written down by some of my professionals as a cost so I have to advise you to minimalise your spends in that area of human communications. But note how this also reduces the risk that anyone could question whether we live our values.”
“and I have found some governing politicians who will promote you abroad in the poor world as being as pure to our nation’s spirit of free enterprise as apple pie; and if the poor world do not buy when commanded to do so our nation will sanction them, and they be exposed as bad debtors.”
how would you end the story?
continue the conversation
If you want to know more, visit, or email chris macrae at You can also find chris’ Brand Chartering online at
Photo via Wikipedia.

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