12 Sep The Importance of Ethics & Integrity
As a branding agency, we’ve spent nearly 20 years defining corporate personas for our clients so that their communications resonate with their prospects and customers. The grounding influence of a well-executed brand creates predictability within an organization that yields improved customer relations, increased mindshare, and stronger affinity.
Consistent and compelling communication doesn’t, however, allow a company to deliver an endless stream of apologies without consequence. Equally important to how a company communicates is how a company actually conducts itself. Creating, communicating, and ascribing to a clear code of ethics and integrity is as influential to a company’s vitality as their mission, vision, values, positioning, brand pillars, and archetype.
Using ourselves as an example, Steel Branding, as an AMI accredited agency, has committed to abide by the spirit and the principles of the following manifesto:
We will tell the truth: In the work we create on behalf of our clients, in all of our business practices and within our agency, we will be transparent, clear and upfront. We will disclose any biases, self-interests or business relationships that might cloud our ability to offer our best counsel. This also means we will stand up for what’s right and not be willing to compromise our ethics and values.
We will honor our promises: Whether it’s a verbal agreement, a written contract or something in between – our word is our bond. This means we don’t enter into agreements lightly but when we do, we honor them, even at the agency’s detriment. This is true for all our relationships – client, employee, vendor, community partner or professional colleague.
We will hold confidences unconditionally: In our work, clients, employees and consumers confide in us and trust that we will protect that information. We must honor that trust and protect those confidences unless it would be illegal or immoral to do so. We will hold our employees to this same standard. Breaching a client’s confidence should never be tolerated.
We will keep learning: Our business is constantly reinventing itself as our culture shifts, grows and evolves. In the best interest of our clients, our employees, our agency and our industry – we must always be well informed, abreast of current business practices, cultural norms and emerging trends that pertain to ours and our clients’ industries.
We will run our agencies in a financially responsible way: Our clients count on us to stay in business and to spend their money as we told them we would. Our employees rely on the agency to provide them with a reasonable wage so they can build their future, and we were willing to take the risk of owning a business – we should also expect to enjoy the rewards. By maintaining AMI’s fiscal best practices, we can fulfill all of these expectations.
We will care for our clients’ organizations as if it were our own: There is no greater measure of success for an agency than their clients’ successes. If we work as hard on their behalf as we do for our own agency, the relationship will serve and celebrate us both.
We will be employers of choice – attracting the best of the best: The level of talent we attract influences our clients’ success. To find and keep the most creative and strategic thinkers we will be a collaborative, vibrant and energizing place to work. We will encourage growth and exploration in every team member and give them opportunities to make significant contributions to our clients, our community and our agency.
We will leave our world better than we found it: Agencies have the unique opportunity to help shape our communities, our profession and our little slice of this world. AMI agencies share our time, and talents generously as a gesture of gratitude for our good fortune and our understanding that our impact should be bigger than just the work. Using our talents for a shared greater good and encouraging our colleagues to do the same is a legacy far longer lasting than any campaign for any individual client.
Posting and regularly communicating the code of ethics our agency adheres to provides a touchstone for our employees to understand that we value and support behavior they can be proud to display. It allows all members of the Steel Branding family to make consistently good decisions knowing the company will support their actions. It provides an expectation of behavior to which our clients can hold us accountable and as such, is a valuable part of our deliverable.
Whatever your company’s industry, an organization likely exists to promote professional standards and ethics. For advertising and marketing, that organization is the Agency Management Institute and we hold our AMI accreditation up proudly as proof to our clients and employees that we conduct business ethically. Take a few minutes to find an industry association relevant to your business that publishes a code of conduct your customers will find valuable and then earn that accreditation. The benefits are worth the effort.