To be credible, SMEs must demonstrate consistency in their messages and actions. (Photo: 123RF)
GUEST BLOG. It was while talking with Christiane Germain during a recent filming of “Dans l’œil du Dragon” that she made me realize the importance of consistency. Indeed, both in business and in our lives, consistency is often relegated to oblivion the minute we realize that it requires us, in some way, to be respected.
Lover of the French language, I love the power and impact of words. Linguistically, coherence is a notion that makes it possible to relate several statements forming, by the same token, a discourse. It is the interrelation between its different statements that makes a discourse coherent.
Whether in business, politics, education, or anywhere else in life, consistency is of paramount importance to the credibility and integrity of a message, the person sharing it, or the product or service that we’re trying to sell.
In the business world, it is no coincidence that the companies recognized as having a deep coherence in the message they share are those among the most respected and admired. Whether it’s Patagonia clothing, Prana food, or Ben & Jerry’s ice cream parlor, for example, their customers immensely respect the fact that their “boots follow their lips.” Cohesion is perfect between what they advocate as values and mission and their daily actions.
In the political world, the logic remains the same. Although we may not agree with any position or direction, we can only respect the political leader who is consistent in his messages and in the actions that flow from them. Moreover, the lack of coherence is the main reason for the current cynicism towards our leaders. By dint of empty words, broken election promises or actions contrary to expectations, voters hate blatant inconsistency.
To know itself
In business, consistency requires companies to define a message as well as a clear approach. To do this, not only must you know yourself well, you must also and above all be prepared to assume your choices, regardless of the circumstances.
Indeed, although it is always appropriate, it is rarely when life is a long calm river that coherence takes on all its importance, but rather in the middle of a storm that it proves to be formidable.
Let us remember the position taken by the equipment supplier Nike during the “Colin Kaepernick crisis”. Following the ostracization of the football athlete who “dared” to speak out against persistent racial inequalities in the United States and despite the highly sensitive subject which is tearing society apart, the company has chosen consistency by taking a stand for the right of athletes to express themselves.
” Believe in something. Quit sacrificing everything. (“Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything”). This was the message inscribed on a large format photo of the athlete deployed massively during an advertising campaign that will mark history. Admired on one side and attacked on the other, Nike had shown courage by risking alienating a good part of American society.
Courage and Will
As a consumer, consistency is just as important. Without it, we simply cannot tackle the fundamental problems of our society. The example of buying local or protecting the environment is particularly striking.
How many people around us say they do everything to encourage local businesses only to turn around and buy a product, most of the time Chinese, for the simple and good reason that it is a few dollars less! How many friends tell me they are very worried about the environment, demonstrate as soon as the opportunity arises, criticize western oil, shale gas and everything that revolves around it, to then buy a huge SUV.. .
Please note that I am not here to judge anyone. No one is perfect, me first. Consistency is much more like a marathon than a sprint and it’s absolutely normal to make a few little mistakes here and there on the course and sometimes being consistent is hard.
That being said, I encourage you in your approach to consistency. The recipe is relatively simple, it requires awareness, convictions, courage and a deep will. What will be more difficult is the execution, because to be consistent, you have to have courage.
PS: Thank you Christiane for inspiring me the subject!