May 02, 2013 by Lucy Ellwood-Russell
When Aung San Suu Kyi visited Bangkok last week, the first time out of Myanmar in 24 years, a full schedule awaited her. In addition to her much anticipated address at the World Economic Forum on East Asia, the newly elected opposition leader met Thai government officials as well as her counterpart, the Thai opposition leader. Burmese workers gathered in the streets of suburban Bangkok to welcome and cheer her.
So with limited time in the Thai capital, it surprised many when she accepted the invitation of Unilever to lunch at the corporation’s Minburi plant and to address their Thai workers. The pro-democracy leader spent three hours at Unilever. A delicate manoeuvre for both politician and corporation as neither want to de-rail future opportunities in the fast-developing Myanmar.
We live in a world with a heightened awareness of the importance of brands. Brands are no longer the territory of consumer goods alone. Sports men and women, rock stars, countries, charities and even politicians it seems have iconic brand status. Strong brands have long recognized how to leverage relationships with other brands to increase their influence.
This influence can be both financial and non-financial. Association can help strengthen influence over others, or influence the partnering organization itself. When Aung San Suu Kyi addressed the World Social Forum, speaking of her wish to create jobs and build business in her country through partnership, she had walked her talk with Unilever the previous day and in doing so imbued her brand with the values of commitment, credibility and authenticity.
Some organizations have chosen not to partner with the corporate community, instead mobilizing the support of individuals in campaigns to influence the behaviour of governments and business. But others now recognize that governments are often more likely to be influenced by big business and a few swinging seats than advocacy groups supported by a relatively small number of voting public. Then there are the new online communities that mobilize huge numbers of individuals around the world to influence decisions ranging from whaling to Wall Street.
Whatever the goal, a strong brand will help you gain support, form partnerships and influence others.
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January 09, 2012 by David Robinson
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