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We’ve all had friends with personality disorders, sometimes mild, sometimes severe, but always disorienting and quite unsettling, however empathetic we’re feeling. The reason it unsettles us is that the friend or colleague displays inconsistent behaviour which makes us in turn feel uncomfortable, unsure how to react and respond, and often this leads to us questioning the very foundations of our association.

So if we are all aware of how challenging incongruent behaviours can be, then why have brands and businesses felt so comfortable splitting their personalities with such scant regard for the impact they have on their customers?

If a brand does indeed strive to have a clear personality – can’t think of many who don’t – why do they feel so comfortable publicly displaying severe inconsistencies, in terms of tone, content, style, message, timing, channel, and so on?

Many inconsistencies seem to come down quite simply to the lack of customer-centricity within their organisations. Given that customers are literally all businesses have, and without them they tend to decline or die, this seems shocking and surprising.

Ultimately the customer doesn’t care about how the brands organise themselves internally (or not as the case may be). They don’t care that the CRM program is in one division, the social responsibility approach is embedded within corporate communications, the sponsorship team separate from the advertising team, the PR team and the social media team in different silos. This would make no sense at all to the customer. Yet the vast majority of clients are organised in a cross-functional, siloed way, which means creating ‘one voice, one personality’ is nigh on impossible.

In the old days the chief marketing officer’s voice resonated at the top table, and they represented the customer. They organised their insights, products, services, ideas and communications around the desire to nurture and build that customer relationship. Life was maybe simpler back then, but in these difficult economic times surely a pretty critical fix would be to get back to those halcyon days?

Thank goodness, therefore, that there appears to be a trend back towards bringing all the silos together, under clear leadership, with collective goals, smarter organisation and singular processes. It’s the only way to get that consistency of personality back and is a fundamental prerequisite to building a strong relationship with the lifeblood of any business – its customer.

Jon Wilkins
Global Founding Partner
Naked Communications

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