“Money and wealth are two different concepts. If you have money, but have not turned this money into an experience to elevate your own or other people’s level of happiness, then you may very well only possess a lot of symbols and a mountain of very colourful pieces of paper.” ~ Jack Ma, Founder and Chief Executive of Alibaba
When Jack Ma founded Alibaba in his kitchen, he had to pool his money together with 17 colleagues because no bank would lend them money. Today, the Alibaba Group is a global leader in e-commerce. As the tenth anniversary of his company approached in 2005, Jack Ma wrote a letter to his 15,000 employees reflecting on the success of his enterprise. What was the reason for his success – pure luck, or repeatable method?
He has explained that the Alibaba Group was built on the following core values:
1. Customer First. The first priority of the company is the interests of its users and paying customers.
2. Teamwork. Alibaba expects its employees to work as a team. They encourage employee input in making decisions and expect all employees to commit to team objectives.
3. Embrace Change. The industry Alibaba operates in is evolving rapidly. Consequently, the company asks its employees to be flexible, innovative and to adapt to new conditions and practices.
4. Integrity. Trust is an essential element of a marketplace, and Alibaba’s employees maintain the highest standards of integrity and deliver on their commitments.
5. Passion. Whether serving customers or developing new services and products, Alibaba employees are encouraged to act with passion.
6. Commitment. Alibaba has a dedicated focus and commitment to understanding and delivering on the needs of Chinese and global small and medium enterprises.
The company also has a very simple, and strong, mission and vision. Its mission is ‘to make it easy to do business anywhere’, while the vision has three parts. Alibaba seeks to build a company that will last 102 years, to become the world’s largest e-commerce service provider and to become the world’s best employer.
Why 102 years? The company was founded in 1999, which means that 102 years will span three centuries. Jack Ma has chosen to take the longterm view and build lasting sustainability. I also like that the company supports and enables a whole new group of competitors and innovators. With Alibaba’s help, enterprises that may not have been able to globally source and sell using the old ways of the corporate west have been able to enter the market. This, in my mind, is truly a brand of the future.
Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider by: Thomas Gad, excerpted from his book Customer Experience Branding, with permission from Kogan Page publishing.
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