I heard the most remarkable thing the other day from none other than the brilliant Alan Greenspan. When questioned about his feelings about the current financial crisis, he said (I’m paraphrasing a little here) that he believed that self-interest in protecting shareholders would keep corporate executives from taking unnecessary risk.

First, with the increased deregulation, encouraged by Mr. Greenspan himself, there was less exposure to risk.

Second, and more importantly, executives of public companies generally are not incented on long-term corporate health. Instead, the focus is on short-term corporate gains. Shareholders are different from investors. Investors take a stake in a company with, generally, an eye toward the long-term. Venture capitalists are excused from this consideration, as their main function is to get companies in a position to sell. Shareholders, on the other hand, buy shares hoping for them to perform a certain way before selling them again for a profit.

Thus, executives are compensated by their ability to maximize that value. That is what drives their self-interest.

If you want to mitigate your risk as a shareholder, create a compensation plan for the executives that adequately reflects that desire. But that will only work if you are more concerned with the long-term health of the company and not the quarterly profits. That means sacrificing a little now to build something for later.

As we have learned from the current crisis, there simply aren’t many willing to do that.


What Determines a Brand’s Value Part 3

Here we have arrived at the third and final set of components making up a brand’s value. You can find the first twelve in my posts from Monday and yesterday.

Your staff and intermediaries. Everyone who touches your product, no matter how much or in what way, impacts the value of your brand. That includes what they say and do, even when they think they are not on the clock or doing so in confidence.

Assessing your competitors. The only way to compete is to understand who your competitors are, what they are doing and how it affects you. Having a fuller understanding of the main brands fighting for your customers will give you a better prediction on how they will react to the moves you make, if at all.

The current brand and product life cycles. A brand life cycle and a product life cycle are not going to be the same. One is going to outlast the other. Which one depends on the industry, the market and the company. Planning accordingly will go far in optimizing your brand’s value.

Your processes and procedures. You must have processes and procedures in place that detail what happens when, how decisions are made, the way information flows and who is accountable for what.

Having evidence of your efforts. We all want to know that our efforts are paying off. For that to happen, there must be specific, measurable goals—that you can actually measure. If not, you may be wasting precious time and resources.

Proper alignment of brand goals with the organizational or ownership goals. The way in which you manage your brand must align with the organization’s or owner’s goals. Bad things happen when there is misalignment, such as poor decision-making, improper spending and diminished brand value.

If you take all 18 of these together, then put the brands value at the center, you create a paddlewheel. And as long as each paddle (the components to the brand’s value) is properly weighted, the wheel will continue to turn efficiently and effectively. This, in turn, increases the actual value.

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