Markus Gull

My current tantrum.

These days on a television news programme. An expert guest in the studio reports on agreements concluded between the government and companies for the benefit of so-called consumers. Thereupon the following dialogue ensues, mutatis mutandis.

Interviewer: "What is the sanction if someone does not comply with the agreements?"
Expert: "None."
Interviewer: "Then why should someone stick to this agreement if there are no sanctions?"

I can't remember the expert's answer, at least it wasn't the necessary one to such an incredibly stupid question. For example: "Can't you think of anything better, Madame, than to shove an entrepreneur through to the viewers under the rhetorical crack in the door?"
But I remember throwing a tantrum. - Yes, that's right: why should anyone abide by agreements if they are not threatened with punishment? Great question!


Perhaps because the essence of an agreement is that you stick to it?
Maybe because you don't give a shit what the end result of your own work is?
Maybe because work has a bit to do with participation in shaping the world and not just with life's suffering that makes you miserable from I don't like Mondays to Thank God it's Friday?
Maybe because quality is not defined by what you are forced to do, but by the fact that you see that it is good? And it is good!

I have read that about 95 per cent of people are dissatisfied with what they do, namely with their work.
95 per cent? That's practically everyone!
Then it's no wonder that the shelves of bookshops are filled with literature on "finding your purpose" just as quickly as the corresponding services appear on the WorldWideWeb.
The search for meaning is taking hold. At work, where we spend most of our waking hours, it seems to be mostly fruitless.

Why good, when it's enough as it is?
Because it "doesn't matter", as they say in Austria, because that's how it works?
Because less passes for more until someone catches me doing it?
Because there are no sanctions.
Almost everyone is unhappy with what they do, but still we're all doing well, aren't we? Actually, as is often noted here.

This reminds me of a TV series by Helmut Dietl from 1979 and its main character, the unsuccessful writer Maximilian Glanz (Towje Kleiner), who spent ages writing his novel: "What's the reason why individuals don't feel good, although we're all doing so well."
The series is called "Der ganz normale Wahnsinn."

What is it that makes individuals stick to agreements when they would otherwise not be punished at all?
Perhaps because he recognises the meaning in his work?
Perhaps because it understands why it does this and that and where the true value lies in it?
When that happens, there is usually a brand story behind it.

Yes, I don't know of any powerful brand, any company that is successful in the long run, whose raison d'être is to make money.
A brand story has a lot to do with marketing communication on the surface, in fact it is created much earlier. A brand story is created in the founding dream. That's where the vision and mission are born, that's where the meaning is born.
And this is exactly where it is decided whether a brand story can be successful externally: in the company itself.Peter Drucker described this phenomenon in a beautiful sentence: "Culture eats strategy for breakfast". - And vice versa.

Brands and companies that have clear values and understand the significance they can have in the lives of their audience, beyond the product benefits, these brands are not only ahead emotionally, but - almost automatically - also economically. I call these brands Brands with Benefits - brands that have meaning and significance, i.e. a real brand story, not just funny commercials as a result of the usual storytelling nonsense.
For more than ten years, these relationships have been investigated worldwide, and the result is clear: Brands with Benefits beat others -... for example in the KPIs, in the Share of Wallet and in the stock market performance massively.
Values and meaning make up the why, served up bite-sized in the form of a brand story. This is the engine for employer branding, for marketing, it is the perfect management tool, even the compass for innovation and expansion. The authentic story of a company is its DNA and the source of its success.

God knows, Unilever is not a company that became famous for hugging trees. But they realised this a few years ago: The two Brands with Benefits, namely Dove and Ben & Jerry's, are growing twice as fast as the others in the portfolio. And they launched a corresponding programme for all Unilever brands. "People increasingly care about how the decisions they make affect the world we live in ... Brands with a purpose are at the heart of Unilever and we believe that the small choices we all make every day can make a big difference to the world we live in," said Unilever CMO Keith Weed.

Accompanied by the hope that it will not remain with well-selling campaigns, but that the company's attitude will be activated and probably also changed. - Brandstory can do that, too.

BlackRock is the largest investment firm in the world, and there is not a single known case of its quarterly figures being discussed over vanilla tea in an armchair circle. However, a Letter from BlackRock founder and CEO Laurence D. Fink recent article has been doing the rounds in which he calls on Corporate America to do more than generate shareholder value if it wants to do business with BlackRock. "Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose ... To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society."


By the way, this does not mean philanthropy and CSR projects. That is also enormously important but too short-sighted.
What big, fat companies are slowly coming to understand will sooner or later filter through to all television journalists: Companies without a purpose are pointless. If only because their employees do not see any sense in their work.
There are no sanctions for this, but there is a severe punishment, at some point: failure and downfall. And for everyone - for you as a solopreneur, for global corporations, megabrands, SMEs or start-ups. Brand story is not a question of company size, but a question of attitude.

So if you are looking for happiness in life not only in the generation of shareholder value and talk about price, but want to engage respectfully with your audience, remember the sentence my grandmother, the old Storydudette, wrote on the toilet wall of the New York Stock Exchange with Milton Friedman's nose blood: No Story. No Glory.


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