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May 01, 2014

Top Desk

Building Brand, Earning Trust

by Meredith Berkich

If a company has a clear understanding of the importance of brand identity, they will begin to unlock one of the most fundamental truths behind momentum. Knowing who you are, being recognizable and demonstrating transparency, is what earns the trust of customers and entrepreneurs alike.

There are many principles that have become central to the way I approach organizations and teams in building brand as well as team loyalty and pride. It starts with answering the question, “On what foundational persona is the company built?” If you ask more simply, “Who are you or who do you want to become?” and that is the foundation on which everything rests, what continues to be built will have the best chance to be sustainable and withstand the test of time.

Establishing and developing this “brand authenticity” is where many companies miss the mark. Either they don’t know who they want to be when they grow up—besides successful—or they simply change direction midstream. This can present challenges for the many stakeholders involved, since the simplicity of the company’s messaging becomes convoluted and potentially feels like betrayal to those who bought in to the original vision. There are few things that create paralysis within an organization more quickly than a lack of confidence that the cause or vision you are working for has morphed into something else. It can often take the form of a corporate identity crisis whereby confusion ensues, and the salesforce and staff ultimately disengage.

Avoiding this pitfall, simply by being thoughtfully aware of the decisions you make as an industry leader and how they relate to your business persona, will create an environment where people can thrive and grow to their full potential. In one of the most powerful books I’ve read, Autry’s Servant Leadership, the author talks about being “present.” At first read, I thought he was referring to being in the moment, tuned-in and focused on current surroundings. But as he further developed the concept, what Autry was referring to was about being “consistent.” The idea being that people need to be able to rely on the knowledge that the authentic “you” will show up and be stable and reliable; they need to know that what they will get when interacting with you—regardless of what day it is, or what the circumstances may be—is dependable and predictable. It clearly demonstrates people’s need to know the inner truth about a person or an organization to help them put aside their own fears and reservations, and allow them to genuinely trust and fully commit to the relationship.

Viridian Energy has held to the corporate identity of “affordable green” since its inception and launch, providing value to our customers’ pocketbooks and promoting significant lifestyle-creating positive impact on the global environment and world economy. Because of our laser focus and concise business development strategies, the foundation we poured years ago remains solid to this day and has readily withstood even the most challenging of times. As I think back over five years’ worth of product launches and the evolution of our value proposition, there is no point in our history where a casual observer would scratch their head and wonder if a product added to the lineup makes sense. In other words, we have been “present” in the lives of our customers, Associates and staff since Day One.

You will only earn the trust and belief of the people by staying true to your core identity.

As a result of earning their trust, we are now an alternative energy company that partners with hundreds of thousands of customers as they exercise their freedom to choose. Only after establishing ourselves have we been able to move forward and access one of the most powerful human drivers of behavioral change: the need for significance. To be a part of something greater than ourselves, to build hope that individual choices can have a collective impact that leaves the world a better place is what drives our growth most. This should be a core value of all companies, not just in the network marketing space. You will only earn the trust and belief of the people by staying true to your core identity.

This is where our product development strategies are most successful, as we strive to remain consistent with our brand. Our messaging supports and promotes an authentic passion for creating a new mindset for how we can properly utilize and support the planet. Taking responsibility as a company for our ability to influence change and shift paradigms must be at the forefront of our understanding. Viridian’s energy products are intelligent and responsible; the company either created or led the categories of green content, carbon offsets, energy-related research, and reducing the dependency on environmentally detrimental products and practices. All of our internal development holds to these criteria, or the ideas are shelved. They may be right for someone else, but not for us. It is too important and vital for us to maintain our core identity.

All companies in the network marketing space have the power to educate future generations of change agents, regardless of whether we are in durable goods, consumables, commodities or services. As executives of what is considered the original social network, painstaking thought needs to go into what exactly we are giving back to future generations. Like any forward-thinking company knows, it is our ability to have people catch the enthusiasm of the collective vision that drives growth and prosperity. We owe it to ourselves and the people we are empowered to lead to “be the change we want to see in the world.” To do this, it is imperative to “know thyself and to thine self be true.”

Meredith BerkichMeredith Berkich is President of Viridian Energy.