The “Occupy” protestors in New York, London and multiple cities around the world are a clear reminder of the weakness of the brand of ‘business’.
Whilst the fault for our economic frailty used to rest solely on the shoulders of banks, we’re now seeing an increasing disapproval of business overall as protesters question the fundamental principles of capitalism and commerce.
These are not easy times, and they’re not easy questions.
The protests show an evident sense of anti-business tribalism that is comfortable to cast blame, but solutions to deeply entrenched economic problems continue to elude us. Maybe a more radical solution is necessary, but whatever transpires, people will need to feel comfortable to work together to solve problems, and ultimately it’s difficult to see how business won’t play a key role in providing the answer. However, it must be the business that creates support and admiration, not suspicion and cynicism.
Business needs to open its doors and fully involve the public in its challenges if positive solutions are to be achieved. In this context, businesses may do well to regard themselves as politicians seeking votes, not just enterprises seeking sales. The future requires more admired businesses, for the sake of commerce as well as society as a whole.
As a first step, a deeper consideration of the business through the lens of the brand creates an objective view of the business’s social, as well as its commercial value, to become increasingly clear.
Graham Hales is CEO, Interbrand London