Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
January 5, 2012 8:04 PM

What Are You Fighting For?

There's an ugly truth about the business that most of us are in.

A friend of mine works at a fairly large company. It's a known brand. Over lunch, they were lamenting all of the corporate politics at play and the dynamics of the individuals, and how hard it is to get anything done. In fact, they were arguing that it has crippled the brand and that - more often than not - the final marketing initiatives are more about caving in to individual's arguments or worrying about missing a deadline. It's never about great work... it's about getting it done. It's a common story. You hear the same stories just by overhearing a conversation on the subway, at a restaurant or even when you have friends over on the weekend. In fact, it's rare to hear the opposite. We highlight the stories of teams working together well and everyone pulling together at crunch time as if they were fables from another time.

What are we fighting for?

Logically, the answer is simple: we are being paid (and agreed to that payment via our employment agreements) to serve the business. It's simple. We are fighting for the success of the brand. All too often, what you wind up uncovering is that most people are not fighting for what's right (or best) for the brand.

They're fighting for...

  • Themselves. They're looking to make their own mark. Whether it's to get a raise or rise higher (and faster) up the corporate ladder or simply because they think that their opinion is the only right one.
  • Their team. There is enough departmental politics in most companies to make the original entrepreneur who started the business either roll over in their grave or fall into one, if they are still alive. This ideology that a department (and not the brand) needs to win battles or control of something has to be one of the most infuriating concepts to think about. I've seen departmental battles last for years. Think about what that does to the brand from a personnel, energy and efficacy standpoint.
  • The agency. It's a story as old as the Bible: agency fights brand. Brand fights agency. In the end, they're fighting for ideas (and hopefully, what they think is best for the brand), but I've seen these types of battles quickly devolve into a battle of egos instead of vested outcomes in the interest of growing the business.
  • The competition. Individuals so hyper-focused on crushing their competition, that the brand's uniqueness and appeal becomes a "me too" product or just another product like every other product. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't worry or watch what the competition is doing, but this does mean that if you have something truly unique, spending all of your energy dissecting the competition can, ultimately, make you much more like them than you should be.

Nobody wins.

In all of those instances, you wind up sucking your corporate resources dry. You will eventually see turnover (which is both costly and time-consuming), you will lose focus and momentum and you will, ultimately, wind up loosing your job (maybe not this week or next month... but slowly, over time). Human beings are fascinating, but we often wind up causing ourselves more trouble than we think. Wouldn't it be an amazing world of Marketing if everyone in the company had one single and universal goal: to make the brand better?

It seems simple. It's probably simple to do. We just have to have the self-awareness and confidence to push that ideology forward... with everyone on board.

By Mitch Joel