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April 19, 2012 8:48 AM Age: 9 yrs

You’re Judged by the Company You Keep

Category: Larry Checco
Source:  Larry Checco

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The Trayvon Martin case has inadvertently brought into play a key branding principle: do your due diligence before aligning your company’s name and brand with that of another organization’s.

I’m referring to the fact that several Fortune 500(r) companies, including Coca Cola, McDonalds, PepsiCo, Kraft Foods, Wendy’s and others are now trying to step back from their financial support of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC.

ALEC was founded in the 1970s.  Over the years it has supported a number of conservative causes, including lobbying against environmental protection laws and other government regulations.

More to the point, with support from the National Rifle Association, ALEC was instrumental in getting the "Stand Your Ground law," or similar laws, passed in several states.  This is the same legislation cited as a possible defense for George Zimmerman who is charged with second-degree murder in the February 26, 2012 shooting of 17-year-old Martin.

The Martin case is drawing an enormous amount of national attention and political heat to Stand Your Ground laws, and these companies don’t want to get burned by having their names in any way attached to the case.

Fact is companies need to understand that when they affiliate with or support an organization, they’re essentially co-branding, or at the very least tacitly endorsing that organization and its mission.

Just as in the case of mergers and acquisitions, companies need to exercise due diligence.  They need to know with whom they are doing business, and then ask themselves, “Does this business or organization represent and reflect our core values, as well as meet our customers’ expectations for our brand?”

If not….

“I would caution companies to be very aware of where their money is going,” said Nell Minow, director of GMI Ratings, which provides corporate governance information to investors, corporate auditors and regulatory agencies.

Minow went on to say that, “Companies are going to realize they can take a real reputational hit with this kind of affiliation.”

Or as my mother used to tell me:  You’re judged by the company you keep!

Larry Checco is president of Checco Communications. His latest book is titled Aha! Moments in Brand Management: Commonsense Insights to a Stronger, Healthier Brand. Larry is a nationally recognized public speaker, workshop presenter, and consultant on branding and leadership. His first book, Branding for Success: A Roadmap for Raising the Visibility and Value of Your Nonprofit Organization, has sold thousands of copies both here and abroad.

You can respond to this column by emailing Larry at


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Published by: Corporate Governance & Accountability Advisors, Inc. Content & Concepts ©2008 by CG&AA, Inc. All rights reserved