Monday, January 5, 2009

What World Class Brands do: Thoughts for leading CEO's.

What is Your Brand Story?
What World Class Brands Do.

“Often, leaders believe the role of branding is something that the marketing
department must manage. The blind reality is that the senior management of an organization leads the reputation of the organization’s brand. In fact, C-suite
executives are chief brand officers in disguise.” - Shelley Rosen

Brand story telling, when done right, is a powerful tool to drive the economic performance of your organization. John P. Mackey recognized this when he founded Whole Foods. He created the Whole Foods “Declaration of Interdependence” outlining his purpose, vision and values for all to see. These founding principles drive the retail experience we see in the marketplace today. This brand remains authentic to selling the highest quality organic and natural products. It started with a powerful brand story.

The best brand stories work from the inside out. We all recognize that a highly motivated work force delivers better customer satisfaction, which in turn drives enhanced financial performance. Brand story telling can aid leaders in communicating long-term growth strategies and corporate direction in fun, inspiring ways. Inspiring language is key to igniting action.

It is a myth that the role of creating brand stories belongs to the marketing department or an outside agency. With or without any advertising or public relations, the brand story is the job of top management. Once clearly defined, it is critical to communicate the brand story from the boardroom to the front counter. It can differentiate your firm in a commodity driven category, unify the leadership team and motivate a work force that frankly, can get a job elsewhere. Crafting a brand story works for established businesses as well as a start-up business. The leadership team needs time to define a brand story to unify the corporate direction. This is something you cannot holistically outsource, since the brand is made up of senior leadership.

It’s often common to hire an advertising or marketing agency to help promote
the brand, but senior leaders are the real brand creators and protectors. There are six components of world-class brands, no matter what the size of your organization. Use these to craft your compelling brand story.

1. Delights Customers
These organizations that have great passion for exceeding and delighting customers have superior performance long-term. Apple Corporation delights their customers with products, services, retail experiences and even their detailed packaging with every product they design.

2. Hires and motivates great people
People are your greatest asset. Find the right people and do everything you can to keep them. Creating a desirable place to work drives a motivated work force. Last year, Google earned top honors for being a great place to work. With only 6,500 jobs, they received over one million resumes from people seeking employment. How many resumes did you receive last year? GENX and GENY work force need and want different things than their Boomer bosses. Are you in touch with what your work force needs to stay inspired and motivated?

3. Flawlessly Executes
Strategies are only as good as their ability to be executed in the marketplace. A well crafted strategy with poor execution is not a good strategy. UPS is a leader in flawless execution. Route drivers are trained at their state-of-the-art facility to learn the UPS way, which creates a highly motivated work force to deliver on the UPS promise.

4. Remains Authentic
Leadership must understand the core competency of the enterprise and do everything to protect this asset. Being true to the history and heritage of the brand is a key driver of growth. World-class brands never forget who they are or where they came from. Walt Disney wanted to create The Happiest Place on Earth through magic. He gave us the Magic Kingdom and experiences beyond our wildest imagination. That is why The Walt Disney Company will always stand for magical story telling. No one does it better.

5. Gives back to the community
Consumers and employees join brands today, the do not just buy them. The Gen X and Gen Y consumers support brands that help the community, in a way that is rooted to the brand essence. Identify your mission and align your organization to commit to the community transparently. Consumers will see right through your strategy if it is an after thought. The Body Shop invented this notion, and other brands strive to seek responsible giving in their business models. This idea is bigger than one golf outing or event. It is linked to your buisness and is ideally part of every transaction you make.

6. Delivers economic return profitably
Shareholder return is the output of a great brand story. Your board of directors would agree that delivering return to your shareholders through sustainable growth is the goal.

These six drivers make up the DNA of a world-class brand. As we know, every great brand story ultimately has a happy ending. Now is the time to get started on your crafting your brand story.

Shelley Rosen
Airlift Ideas
For a chat on your brand, call us at 312.492-7772


Melissa Milne said...

Great insights - I agree, the brand story should really come from the inside out, not the other way around!

Airlift Brand Story Telling said...

Many thanks for your comment. do the people of your firm understand thepower of brand story telling?

Barkha said...

Hey that was a good piece of work on Brand Story and its objectives. But would like to know if you have some sample stories to share. Plz lemme know would be interested to read more on it . you can mail me on the following id -

Keep blogging!