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14 January '15 | Manesh Rajendran

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13 January '15 | Anil Gandharve

The New Omnichannel Dynamic: Finding Core Principles Across Industries

13 January '15 | Debjyoti Paul

Technology does not disrupt business – CIO day 2014 Roundup

02 December '14 | Anshuman Singh

Apple Pay – The Best Is Yet To Come

02 December '14 | Indy Sawhney

Digital transformation is a business transformation enabled by technology

01 December '14 | Amit Varma

3 Stages of FATCA Testing and Quality Assurance

06 October '14 | Raman Suprajarama

3 Reasons why Apple Pay could dominate the payments space

18 September '14 | Gaurav Johri

Beacon of Hope: Serving Growth and Customer Satisfaction

05 August '14 | Debjyoti Paul

The Dos and Don’ts of Emerging Technologies Like iBeacon

30 July '14 | Debjyoti Paul

What You Sold Us On – eCommerce Award Finalist Selections

17 July '14 | Anshuman Singh

3 Steps to Getting Started with Microsoft Azure Cloud Services

04 June '14 | Koushik Ramani

8 Steps to Building a Successful Self Service Portal

03 June '14 | Giridhar LV

Innovation outsourced – a myth or a mirage or a truth staring at us?

13 January '14 | Ramesh Hosahalli

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03 January '14 | Gopikrishna Aravindan

A Lesson for CMOs: Learning from Toyota and Goldman Sachs

Posted on: 07 May '10

Unless your head has been buried in the sand in the last few months, you’ve been subjected to the almost daily updates on the Goldman Sachs and Toyota debacles. I’ve joked through Twitter (@MindTreeCMO) that you couldn’t pay me enough to be the Head of Communications for either company. But in all seriousness, I think there is a valuable lesson to be taken from these cases if you are a marketing professional.

Honesty is the Best Policy. How many times did we hear this from our parents while growing up? Yet, it remains one of the most important philosophies that I try to apply to my personal and professional life.

Although the companies are quite different, the colossal mistake they both made was the same. Specifically, if Toyota and Goldman Sachs would have acted quicker, and had been more upfront with what was going on at their respective companies, they would have limited the corporate brand damage significantly.

David Ogilvy defined brand as the intangible sum of a product’s attributes. Others have defined brand as a promise that a product, service, company will deliver to its buyer (consumer). By some estimates, a brand comprises up to 80% of an S&P 500 company’s intangible assets. Only time will tell if we ever again believe the promises that Goldman and Toyota make to us, their customers. In the court of public opinion, we are all customers, regardless of whether or not we drive their cars; or buy their financial products.

Are you prepared for a similar crisis at your company? Do you have a philosophy on how to address it? Finally, do you have an experienced crisis team to make the decisions?

Mindtree Blog Archives

Mindtree blog Archives are a collection of blogs by various authors who have independently contributed as thought leaders in the past. We may or may not be in a position to get the authors to respond to your comments.

  • Dear Mr King,
    Indeed a nice lesson and thanks for reminding all of us what parents used to & still say “Honesty is the Best Policy”..While reading your blog, I just replaced ‘company’ with an individual or oneself..It is so important even at an individual or personal level.

    Raghavendra Kulkarni

  • Dear Raghavendra:

    I agree with you…the lesson is valuable regardless of whether it is for an individual or corporation. Thanks for reading.

  • sunil jogdeo

    Its more a self experience. Some one else’s honesty cannot be a sufficient experience for any one. It takes lot of pains to go through this experience, however, it pays greater rewards. The greatest reward is `risk free and peaceful mind`. Thank you for sharing this.

  • ExcilsGlica

    Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
    I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

    Thumbs up, and keep it going!


  • Azra

    Hello Joseph

    Your blog led me to reflect on my own journey and evolution as a marketing professional especially with respect to “Honesty in Marketing”.

    During the initial years in advertising and then in marketing, I was caught up with the “creativity” of what was being said and projected. The words, imagery, metaphors, copy, by-line, art and design, logo etc., – became the end, rather than the means. In this state, I moved on to a B2B technology services company. After a couple of years in the same company, I moved up the ranks and my new position meant I had to report directly to the global CEO. It was suddenly all very different. When I finally got it, I knew I had learnt an invaluable lesson in Honesty in Marketing under his invaluable guidance. I learnt to give up my affair with – “half-truths well told”. My CEO was brusque and scathing. There was no room for loose words, shallow thoughts, exaggerated statements and smart cover-ups. I distinctly remember he once questioned us on the usage of the word “vast” (a reference to our company resources and talent) -asking what we meant by it and “vast” was in reference to what and by whose standards :-).
    From here on, I learnt to minutely examine everything that we were trying to convey from the “honesty” angle as well. Today, my philosophy is “truth well told” and I owe it to my ex-CEO.

    Going back to the brand point you have touched upon, I believe that the time that marketing professionals spend on the brand, brand/corporate image, brand essence, logo etc., translates to only 10 or 20% of what it actually means to the customer. The real brand image gets created in every touch point of the product or service experience for the consumer – which is the moment of truth.

    Toyota and Goldman Sachs are good examples of what not to do. Unfortunately the corporate landscape is littered with more such than we would care to have. There are also companies that I have followed very closely and who have very bravely stuck to being forthright, proactive and upfront in their communication – especially during crises. It’s a value-system that is rigorously enforced top-down.

    Thank you for sharing. It is a discussion that merits serious reading and introspection.