What the Great British Bake Off #GBBO has taught us about the importance of people, values and culture in building brand equity

As content marketing and employer branding specialists, we’re big advocates of the use of people-focused content to showcase your expertise and enhance both customer and employee engagement. After all, people buy people, and whether you want to secure a loyal customer or recruit new talent, the best way to engage them is through the people that are already in your business.

In today’s age of transparency, HR and marketing must work together to ensure that your external facing brand is a true reflection of your internal culture and values – and it is people that bring those culture and values to life as opposed to just existing as a policy document in a folder.

When the makers of UK TV institution the Great British Bake Off decided to make it unaffordable for the BBC to continue with and sold the concept to higher bidders Channel 4 last week, neither they or Channel 4 understood that the brand’s equity was in its people. Iconic presenters Mel & Sue, followed by much-loved judge Mary Berry, promptly dropped out, pledging allegiance to the BBC and admitting that the show wouldn’t quite be the same on another channel. But without these people, not only will the show not be the same, it will be unrecognisable.

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Brands aren’t just concepts or products/services. They are a delicate balance of people and values that take years to build up. If that combination is disturbed or changed, like a cake mixture, it will flop.

So what does this teach us about the importance of our most talented people in business? To keep them, we have to stick to our values, make them the face of our brand, and ensure that customers (or in this case viewers) feel an affiliation with them all as closely connected to the brand so that if one of them goes, brand equity isn’t lost.

The most loved and trusted brands have not just recognisable leaders but a recognisable culture and values that runs throughout their products and services. If you take away the BBC and with it some key players, the Great British Bake Off is just a marquee with some fancy ovens in it.

And don’t under-estimate the impact this has on your customers and stakeholders. Perhaps all the hype around the show changing hands will mean that the Great British Bake Off viewing figures won’t drop in the short term, but its long term success and sustainability will no doubt be hampered.

Once you lose employee and customer trust, you lose all credibility. Time to start thinking about the big picture, and not just chasing after ‘quick wins’.

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