I have written a lot about a company’s culture and brand. I believe it is crucial for every founder, leader, and manager to understand the significance of both of these concepts and how they communicate to the outside world what their company is about. Yet, words and pictures on a marketing brochure pale in comparison to the lived experiences of those who work for you or buy from you.
In a world that seems to be divided over everything, the soul of your business matters even more. You might have a very nice logo, but that symbol will only take your company so far. You might even have a great tag line, but that doesn’t guarantee success. All the work you do in marketing your company and creating its brand is what helps you attract customers and even prospective employees, but only the soul of your company, as it is eventually revealed, will keep them with you for the long term.
Can a company have soul? Apparently Henry Ford thought so, which is why his company donated to charities from the profits derived from selling cars. He also wanted to make affordable cars right from the start so that automobiles would be accessible to most people not just the rich. He was so intent on this that the Dodge brothers sued him because he cared more for his employees than the shareholders!
Some companies’ souls were already in place from the outset, meaning that there was a set of values that were important to their founders and those people decided to build a business around those values.
Other businesses have taken a company stand to communicate their social consciousness and solidarity (or not) with some of the biggest issues facing our country today, mega businesses like Walmart, CVS, and Chobani.
As I write this article, the soul of two major recognizable businesses were revealed: Nike with its support of Black Lives Matter by making Juneteenth a paid holiday, and Starbucks with its lack of support for Black Lives Matter by banning their employees from wearing anything showing solidarity with the movement. Stark differences and clear messages. Both companies will be impacted, I would predict, one more favorably than the other.
As more and more employees ask their companies to bear their souls and show what they stand for by addressing societal ills and as more young Latinxs continue to become small business owners, I hope we will see a higher influx of socially conscious Latinx small businesses spend time reflecting on their soul and putting their money into marketing materials that send out messages that matter to the general public.
Some business leaders who have no soul are okay with alienating many consumers and making less profit in order to stand on values that are contrary to human flourishing. However, smart business leaders know that having broad public acceptance and a sense of corporate consciousness helps to maximize success.
Businesses of all sizes can play a part in building a better world, if they choose to. Companies committed to creating a better world always come out winning and what better end game is there?