How Important Are Values in Business?

On Tuesday I went to the Oregon Chapter of the American Marketing Association Luncheon. Dan Harbison, Internet Marketing Manager, of the Portland Trail Blazers was the speaker. His topic was “Trail Blazers on the Courts – and on the Web” and he duly explained the Trail Blazers’ web strategy and what they were trying to achieve.

What struck me however was not so much their web efforts but how their organization had been significantly affected by the off-court behavior of some of the players. In the 80’s the Trail Blazers were at the top of their game. They were playing well and had some well loved and respected players. The people of Portland had a very strong positive relationship with the team.

Over time however, the leading players aged, lost their edge and were traded. In an effort to maintain the performance of the team, replacements were hired with only performance in mind. These replacements had very different values to the heroes they replaced. Unfortunately they got into trouble so often that the team was given the nickname of the Jail Blazers!

All teams have their ups and downs but when the downs came, the team no longer had the strong relationship and admiration of the fans. The team suffered greatly as a result.

According to Dan, the Trail Blazers removed the troublemakers and since then has been much more careful to hire players who are not only good performers but also have values consistent with the Trail Blazers brand.

So how do the values of your players affect your brand?

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