Nov 7, 2013

It Really Is About The Money

Mission, vision and values are important, but so too is the money.

On Tuesday I had the pleasure to emcee the Family Business Forum in Toronto. It is an event modeled after the TED Talks that brings together family businesses to share their stories. Each presentation is twenty minutes, and they’re packed with incredible wisdom and ideas.

Chris Clarke, CEO of First Affiliated made a profound statement in her talk, “People like to think family businesses are about the relationships or the lifestyle, and not about the money. That’s not true. They are about the money.”

The statement might seem a little trite, especially outside of the context of her talk, but it hit me like a ton of bricks. It really is about the money.

Mission gives meaning

The purpose of Whole Foods or Apple isn’t “make money.” They have a higher calling to bring exceptional value and results to their clients. And they are very profitable companies as a result of the great work they do.

Let’s not confuse that the purpose of business is money. That’s not my epiphany.

Great brands and businesses resonate with their clients, and deliver exceptional value. We choose them first, because of the quality and capabilities of their products and services.

The relationship between a brand and its customers is hinged on the mission. Consumers give “whole paychecks” to Whole Foods for a unique shopping experience, organic products and shared values. The brand experience is a perceived value that’s worth more.

Get paid for value

Chris Clarke’s comments on the importance of money is tied to results. Entrepreneurs and business owners bust their asses, take massive risks and sacrifice to grow successful companies. Why? Money.

Money is the gasoline of business and life. When you have cash in the bank you have freedom: freedom to make decisions, freedom to invest, freedom to breathe and look around.

Entrepreneurs don’t create companies to scratch out a subservient living. And they don’t invest in branding, sales and marketing for altruistic purposes. The wealth they produce is as important as the mission of their company.

Money is the proof you’re delivering value and helping others achieve their goals.

Branding accelerates wealth

According to Interbrand, Apple is the most valuable brand in the world valued at over $98 billion.

Interbrand develops its valuation based on the company’s financial performance, consumer influence, and how well the brand lets a company charge premium prices and deliver profits.

A valuable brand can charge a premium. It’s perceived as better, and customers are drawn to it.

And that’s the hook to Chris Clarke’s comments. Branding is about the money. We invest in refining, polishing and developing our brands so it is more findable, referable, memorable and desirable. And we invest in our brands so they make it easier to sell our products at a premium with less competition.

The ultimate measure of a brand is money:

  • Does your brand draw customers to your company?
  • Do your competitors avoid you, because it’s hard to displace your brand?
  • Do you avoid discounting and selling on price, because your customers value your products and services?

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