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Lead Your Team Strategy

Does Your Company Have Good Character?

Does Your Company Have Good Character?
Credit: Dreamstime

Most consumers believe businesses in the U.S. could use a boost when it comes to improving their character and values, a new study finds.

Research from Hill+Knowlton Strategies shows that businesses are struggling to communicate their character -- the interaction between brand, reputation and behavior – to consumers, which is affecting their ability to connect with the public in a way that drives positive reputation and financial value.

Specifically, 90 percent of consumers think companies need to do more to bring their behaviors in better alignment with their publicly stated values, while nearly half think that companies' behaviors are out of alignment with the values they promote. The study discovered that consumers view this misalignment as dishonest, and that perceived dishonesty can lead to a crisis.

"Our research shows that big consumer decisions, like who to buy from or where to work, are strongly influenced by companies' character," said Andy Weitz, U.S. president and CEO of H+K Strategies.

That lack of character is also hurting companies' reputations. Just 10 percent of those surveyed trust companies more today than did a decade ago, with 90 percent turning to friends and family first – not CEOs, the government or the news – for trusted input on businesses.

When asked to grade companies for behaving responsibly, having a positive impact on society, and being trustworthy, two-thirds of consumers gave them aC grade or below. Additionally, while half of those surveyed think companies are trying harder to have a positive impact on society, only one-third are convinced they actually are behaving more responsibly.

Weitz said too many businesses view character as a defensive strategy and only understand or address the collective impact of character when they have reached a crisis state.

"We found that when companies go on the offense by communicating character, they stand out from their competitors," he said. "In fact, three out of four people said they were more likely to spend money with companies who demonstrate they have character."

The study was based on 3,000 online surveys of U.S. adults.

Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.

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