(From Harvard Business Review) -- Executives spend a lot of time worrying about their companies' products and prices, but they don't spend nearly enough time worrying about corporate character. Why would they? A lot of them don't believe companies even have a character, and others don't see what difference it could possibly make.
But your company's character can earn you — or cost you — real money. Our research on thousands of managers, frontline employees, and customers of a U.S. retailer shows that there are connections between customer spending and what's known as the organizational identification of the people who work at the company. The greater the OI, as researchers like to call it, the greater the spending. And organizational identification is, to a great extent, about company character.
Corporate character is like corporate reputation, but it's a deeper and more nuanced concept. It has little to do with advertising or marketing. Like your own character, it's judged by actions more than words. If your company sticks its neck out for a principle, it will be seen as having integrity, just as you're seen as having integrity when you stand up for the employee who's being scapegoated by some other manager. A long history of admirable moves builds an impression of a solid character. A history of missteps does the opposite. You can probably name companies with solid character as easily as we can: Zappos, Ritz-Carlton, and USAA, to name just a few.