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Goldman Sucks – Too Big to Feel?

December 7th, 2009

Is the 140-year old bank’s success leading to brand-blindness?

You hear news stories that don’t sound right. You read similar tales. The numbers are wrong. You heard it wrong. That can’t be true. It’s factually incorrect.

But, you continually hear a number attached to a particular firm, so you do a little digging. Sure enough, it’s wrong – not factually – morally.

Case in point – Goldman Sachs, the famous Wall Street invest bank.

They are enjoying a wildly successful year. They are about to distribute 2009 annual bonuses to employees totaling $23 billion. Good for them.

But, everything takes place in context. The rest of the country is hurting with 10% unemployment, wages frozen, hours trimmed – more work for equal, or less, pay being the norm for those lucky enough to still be working.

Oh yeah…and Goldman Sachs was one of the investment banks bailed out by the federal government last year with $10 billion of the taxpayer’s money.

As you can imagine, the court of public opinion is in session. Suggested remedies are as mild as sharing the wealth with charities, to as dark as bringing back the guillotine.

To each his own, but the folks who run Goldman Sachs are way beyond tone deaf and run the risk of brand-blindness. They really need to determine how any action they ultimately take will impact their brand.

At the highest level, their brand equals smart investors who make successful deals. They know how to make money. Period.

That’s fine, but with phenomenal success comes equal responsibility. Context requires a broader and longer view. Goldman Sachs should consider sharing the wealth in whatever method seems appropriate, from their perspective, to enhance their brand.

In some respects, they are already too late. Once you show up on the public’s radar as a bad actor, you are forced into a defensive posture. A position that requires much action just to get back to a neutral position perceptually.

Success should be celebrated – and shared – in context. Brand building requires insight informed by context. Acting without context is brand-blindness no business can afford. Even – especially – if it’s too big to feel.

Thoughts … On Brand

Neither deep nor finely crafted. Feel free to take exception – or not. Need help? Just ask.

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