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Brand values: reporter or columnist?

by Randall Craig on December 16, 2016

Filed in: Blog, Branding, Make It Happen Tipsheet

Tagged as: , ,

Would you rather be a reporter, or a columnist?

Reporters have a great combination of investigative skills, communication skills, moxy, and pluck. Columnists are made from the same raw material, but they get paid far more.  Why?

Readers care more about what a particular person is saying than what a generic person says. Said another way, a staff reporter is generic, while a columnist has a brand. This is true in just about every field of endeavor, and is doubly true for your organization:

  • You will pay more for a “name act” than for a no-name band.
  • You will pay more for name-brand computer than a clone.  (And you’ll pay more for an Apple computer than a name-brand Windows computer.)
  • You will pay more for a name brand advisor than a no-name one.

While price itself is part of brand signalling, the underlying brand question is how to imbue value to your organization’s brand.  The answer has nothing to do with your strategy, your marketing tactics, or your logo.  Building brand value is directly derived from your organization’s values.  This means:

  • Having a clear set of underlying values.
  • Communicating these values, internally and externally.
  • Living those values every day: from the leadership team to the front line to any volunteers.
  • Building processes and systems that reinforce these values.
  • Rewarding values-enhancing behaviors.

Missing even one of these bullets renders them one step short of useless.  A case in point: large organizations have codified values (as in “mission/vision/values”), often generated through a strategic planning process.  But ask anyone in the front lines what these values are (let alone what they mean), and you will likely draw a blank stare.

This week’s action plan:  What is true for the organization, is doubly true for you as an individual.  This week, spend some time looking in the mirror: have you even considered writing down your personal values? And what are you doing to live your values, and thereby grow your personal brand?  Do it right, and you won’t just be a capable reporter, you’ll become a great columnist.

Marketing insight:  Organizations that are strong on the inside are also strong on the outside.  The more aligned each person is within the organization, the more powerful the organization’s brand will be.  This has implications for recruiting, orientation, management style, client or member service, support – everything.

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Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)



Randall has been advising on Digital Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of eight books, including Digital Transformation for Associations, the Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business, and Social Media for Business. He speaks and advises on Digital Transformation, Digital Trust, and Social Media. More at

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