In the world of business finance, there exists a concept known as “piercing the veil.”
The basic premise is this: if a business owner has set up a corporation with the intent of shielding himself/herself from financial liability, but then goes and pays for personal expenses with business money, then that owner will have pierced the corporate veil.
Engaging in these kinds of behaviors nullifies the protective value in having set up a corporation because it exposes the corporation as being one and the same as the individual running it.
A mentor of mine once noted that corporations have always been made up of people, but also noted that those people were representatives of the brands for which they worked. Nowadays, the representation is reversing, and we’re seeing brands representing people.
And that’s because people generally prefer to do business with other people — particularly those who we know, like, and trust. In fact, entire modes of marketing have been created to help form and cultivate strong personal relationships.
But people are not corporations, and even though they are made up of people, the goals of a corporation are distinct from the goals of the individuals operating within it.
Corporations exist for myriad reasons, but with the exceptions of political action committees, non-profit organizations, and religious institutions, very few exist with the documented purpose of amplifying the personal opinions and political agendas of officers, shareholders, or employees.
And that’s something we’ve lost sight of in the modern era.
“Good fences make good neighbors”
Every day on social media, there’s a business owner expressing their personal beliefs. They publish — often using ugly and disrespectful language — whatever thoughts come to mind, forgetting that many of their personal connections are, in fact, business connections and that they are representatives of their company.
And then they’re shocked and dismayed when some percentage of their market disappears, or business partners stop calling as often, and so on.
They’ve forgotten that they’re representing a brand in which they (or their financiers) have invested heavily and want to remain appealing to everybody. They’ve forgotten that statistically speaking, their opinions will alienate 25-40% of everybody reading them.
Most damning of all, they’ve forgotten that it’s all voluntary; nobody forces them to publish their innermost thoughts to an audience whose only need is to know they provide great service.
And then they (at least those that care about losing a huge portion of their market) call The Creative Offices looking for help on how to repair their brand. The solution is simple:
Don’t Pierce The Veil
For businesses that call The Creative Offices to fix damaged brands, we remind them that The Veil isn’t only a concept in finance. It’s a concept that applies equally to branding and is a vital component of good brand management. Most preexisting damage isn’t irreparable as long as a disciplined approach to branding is maintained going forward.
- Cleanup old posts, comments, likes, and shares in order to avoid problematic content from your past cropping up.
- People work with who they know, like, and trust… so make sure you’re acting in a way that they can like and trust. Behave like a professional at all times.
- Draw firm lines between your individual persona and your business persona. If you don’t respect the fact that you are representing a brand — you cannot count on the market to separate your viewpoints from your brand’s superior offering.
- Refer to your business by its name as often as you can; communicate through its channels as often as you can.
- Don’t pierce the veil again.
And for those of you who are inclined to say “if so-and-so doesn’t want to work with me because I think such-and-such,” that’s entirely up to you. If you’re comfortable ceding a portion of the market — or you have the financial backing that allows you to do so — then that’s cool. Not everybody’s goals are the same. This post is written in particular for the business owners who want to maximize their investments and ensure their branding efforts are successful.