In what appears to be an increasingly polarising world, many large businesses will find themselves in a contested and congested messaging environment – if not an actively hostile one.

This may be a relatively new challenge for the commercial sector but for NATO, and its member nations, the issue of hostile narratives and malign messaging is ever pressing (and ever growing).

I recently had the honour of addressing the Assistant Secretary General for Diplomacy - Ambassador Tacan Ildem and a select audience of Defence communicators in NATO headquarters, Brussels. I was there to talk about strategic communications and my perspective and thoughts upon the #WeAreNATO campaign.

Like so many campaigns before it, the focus is primarily upon the means and the metrics as opposed to the ends. That is not to say that branding and awareness are not essential components in any communications campaign but the focus on the short term for the sake of easy to measure metrics (to determine success) is limiting. 

In NATO’s case, I had argued that the #WeAreNATO campaign should in fact be viewed as a strategic counter-disinformation effort. It should be an attempt to build resilience into NATO’s narrative in a way that explains its purpose, embodies our liberal democratic values and builds trust.

Branding and awareness are of course important to this, but the measure shouldn’t simply be shifts in knowledge of NATO, but rather in the actions of populations toward national and international security challenges; how often is NATO the answer on the lips of our friends and family? How many people within NATO nations are pressing their Governments to meet the agreed 2% of GDP for Defence expenditure?     

These are also useful questions for us to ask in the commercial sector.

How defensible is our narrative if it were ever attacked? Beyond simply buying more of our products or service - what do we want our key stakeholders to do? For those that are advocates for our business do they know how they can help – how are you facilitating this?

By being able to answer these questions, it not only helps develop confidence in your own messaging during the good times but also the bad. If you are lucky enough to have clear answers to all of these questions then you have a level of resilience in your narrative that the majority of businesses should be envious of.

If you would like to talk about how you could make your strategic narrative more resilient please do get in touch with the team here.