Amazon on the Value of Principle in Marketing

July-August 2020
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With the current state of the world and ongoing global pandemic, it’s more important than ever to have focused and intentional brand marketing, said Sabena Gupta, brand marketing lead, for Amazon’s Alexa

During this year’s Social Media Week (now called #SMWONE) in May, Gupta discussed “how to establish guidelines for purposeful, values-based marketing within your organization, in this moment and beyond.”

To understand the value of principle in marketing, we need to first understand what values and principles are. “Values are the why — the irrefutable beliefs that make you (and your organization) who you are. This is what we believe and the lens we view the world with,” she said. “Principles are the what — how you put your beliefs into practice in decision-making and actions. This is more like a code of conduct and how decisions get made, [while] embodying the brand values.”

Developing a brand identity

Gupta talked about “identity,” which is what relates you to a brand (logo, font, color) and informs the choices that the brand makes. “Learn what shapes your organization, what makes it special, different and valuable, and live by it across everything you create and do,” she said.

Consider these elements and questions when developing your brand identity:

  • Audience: Who is your current audience? What audience are you trying to grow?
  • Product and brand: How do you define your offering? How has that evolved and how will it continue to evolve?
  • Differentiation: What makes your offering different from, or better than, others?  
  • Communication: What do you want people to know about your brand or product? What do they often misunderstand?
  • Distillation: Collect and simplify. And continue doing this over and over.
  • Tension resolution: Explore the misalignments.
  • Sharing and building: Share, discuss and build. Repeat.

Growing an organization

“Learn what you need to embody to grow as an organization, and then translate it into language that is sticky and actionable,” Gupta said.

Amazon has 14 leadership principles and enables all employees to offer up their own ideas, she said. The company’s mission is “to be the world’s most customer-centric company on the planet.” Some of its values are a “dive deep” with a “bias for action” and the principles aim to “deliver results” with “frugality.”

Adapting to a new normal

Here are five key principles to help your company adapt to this new way of living and working: 

  1. Accept the role that your brand does (or doesn’t) play right now. The first question to answer is: “Should we say anything?” And “why?” Then you can start thinking about the “what.” Don’t say or do anything out of the ordinary. Help your customers retain a sense of normalcy because everything else in their lives is out of sorts.
  2. Do. Don’t tell. Adapt through actions. Decide what you can do to help. Then do it.
  3. Expose your vulnerabilities alongside your audience’s. Feelings are complex right now, as are the decisions organizations are grappling with to manage the crisis. The customer experience is changing each day, as people must make constant decisions without much information. Have empathy and think about how things are hard for your audience too.
  4. When in doubt, support basic human needs. These include sustenance, freedom of expression, autonomy, community and identity.
  5. There is strength in the collective. More minds breed more ideas and more organizations working together to bring scale.

photo credit: shutterstock

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