7 Brand Building Principles of the Best Brands

One bright color smiling pencil among bunch of gray sad pencils

Denise Lee Yohn knows what makes a brand great.  With twenty-five years of experience building some of the world’s greatest brands, she knows the strategies that work.  Whether Burger King, Land Rover, Jack-In-the-Box, Spiegel, or Sony Electronics, Denise has knows the principles that make a great brand.

“Make the small stuff your business.” -Denise Lee Yohn

 

If you think branding is a logo or an advertising campaign, think again.  You may think you don’t “do” branding, but then you will miss learning some incredibly important business ideas—because corporate branding means more, and all of us have a personal brand.

start inside

Denise, when most people think of branding, they think of a television commercial, an internet ad or a new logo.  It’s ironic to me that branding itself is not branded properly.  Your book completely redefines what great branding is.  Why do most people have the wrong impression about branding?

 

“Great brands ignore trends.” -Denise Lee Yohn

 

Branding actually refers to the practice of putting a symbol on a thing – ranchers used to brand their cattle with a unique mark to indicate their ownership.  The practice was then adopted by companies selling products.  They developed logos to put on their products to distinguish them and to signal which companies made them.  Over time these symbols became cues of product quality and meaning – people would assume a product from a particular company had a level of quality consistent with the company’s past or other products, and they would attribute some meaning to it when they associated the logo with it.   Marketers worked hard to develop compelling logos and strong positive associations with them. DLYohn Headshot Portrait 2013

So technically the understanding of branding as a business practice is still correct, but it’s clear that the value of branding has diminished.  It’s no longer enough to develop a creative logo or to launch clever marketing campaigns to express what your brand stands for.  Companies must execute on their brand identities too.  Today’s savvy customers can see through a branding veneer, so a company must translate its brand vision into customer reality.

Let’s touch on a few of your branding principles to give a flavor for your unique approach to brand-building.  The first is great brands start inside—with culture.  Why is organizational culture the starting point?

Culture is the necessary first step when you want to define or re-define your brand because culture is what ensures your employees understand and embrace what your brand stands for and understand their roles in interpreting and reinforcing your brand.  So great brands rally their people around common cultural values and use their brands to focus, align, and optimize the inner workings of their organizations.

The Power of Fiction

youtube-ctaPAm14L10

This is a powerful video demonstrating the power of fiction.  Reading fiction is not just an entertaining escape.  It can change your point of view and give you a new perspective.  We are literally transformed through the power of story.

So, the next time someone snickers as you’re reading a thriller, remind him that you are doing your part to change the world.

How has fiction made an impact on your life?

Saying More With Less

From Point A To Point B

 

Have you ever tuned out in a meeting because the speaker is rambling?

Do you find your mind wandering when listening? 

What happens when someone does not get to the point?

 

Recently, I read BRIEF: Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less by Joseph McCormack.  He is the founder of a boutique marketing agency, The Sheffield Company, with clients ranging from Harley-Davidson to MasterCard.  I had the opportunity to ask him a few questions about the power of brevity.

 

Talk to the point and stop when you have reached it. –F.V. Irish

 

I love the message of this book.  In my interactions, I am constantly asking for headlines and bottom lines. Or I am famous for flipping to the last page of the PowerPoint to see where it all ends.  Why is brevity more important today than ever before?

We have passed the point where people can handle the volumes of information that’s headed their way. The result is a divided mind that is highly inattentive and constantly interrupted. The average attention span is now eight seconds, which is one second less than a goldfish. People that cannot get to the point and command others’ (in)attention face the real risk of being ignored and overlooked.

 

Simplicity is the glory of expression. –Walt Whitman

 

You discuss what you call the 7 Capital Sins that interfere with the goal.  In your work, have you seen one or two that consistently rank the highest for busy executives?

The 7 Capital Sins are: cowardice, confidence, callousness, comfort, confusion, complication, and carelessness. They represent the subtle, and often unconscious, sins that can keep up from being succinct naturally, and I go into them more in-depth and provide strategies to circumvent them in my book.

 

7 Capital Sins

  1. Cowardice
  2. Confidence
  3. Callousness
  4. Comfort
  5. Confusion
  6. Complication
  7. Carelessness

Confidence and comfort, in particular, are two sins committed often by professionals, particularly senior executives. When people are knowledgeable and have authority, they tend to be so confident that they want to share everything they know. Given their position of responsibility, those around them have little choice but to buckle themselves in for a long ride. In a similar vein, executives are proud and fall in love with the sound of their own voice. They get so comfortable that it’s like a snowball running down a steep hill.

 

Get to the point or pay the price. –Joseph McCormack

 

Storytelling is powerful.  Why does storytelling trump persuasion?

Treating Employees Like Associates

Teamwork And Integration Concept

This is a guest post by J.D. “Dave” Power III,
 Founder of J.D. Power and Associates. Dave is the subject of a new book POWER: how J.D. Power III Became the Auto Industry’s Adviser, Confessor, and Eyewitness to History.

Empower Others

In 1982, Tom Peters and Bob Waterman profiled a number of successful companies in their book In Search of Excellence. One section profiled two companies that had done well by valuing employees: Hewlett Packard, founded in 1939, and Walmart, founded in 1962.

My company, J.D. Power and Associates, was more than a dozen years old by the time the book came out, but I remember thinking how similar my approach to managing people was to that of Sam Walton, Bill Hewlett, and Dave Packard. Like Walton, I called my employees “associates” — something I was so committed to that I included them in the company name alongside my own.  And like Hewlett and Packard, I saw the empowerment of individuals as the best way for the whole organization to achieve success.

 

The empowerment of individuals is the best way for the organization to achieve success. –JD Power

 

Peters and Waterman tracked down the sources of HP and Walmart’s management philosophies: Sam Walton had learned about working with people at J.C. Penney and modeled many of his company’s core values on that culture. For Hewlett and Packard, it was lessons learned by working with government offices and for other electronics companies that taught them what not to do.

Treat Employees Like Associates

For me, the foundation of my philosophy for how to treat people — central to my management style — came from observations of what to do and not to do, and those observations started early.

I have always been a student of why people behave the way they do. This goes back to my family, my dad and his explanations to me, and to school. I think I learned a lot in grade school and college about why people do what they do and to have a respect for what they’re doing.

My father, a high school English teacher, was always giving me advice that proved invaluable in running a company. The path he took in his life was the furthest thing from business, but he had a keen sense of the way the world worked and very intelligent insights about people. While I was still in school he told me, “When you’re in charge of people, don’t ask them to do anything you wouldn’t do yourself.”

My first opportunity to put this advice to use was in the Coast Guard.  As an officer stationed on an icebreaker, I was in a position to manage crewmembers from every state in the union and of different races and economic backgrounds.  Many of these men, working as enginemen or boatswains or in the officer mess deck, were just out of high school or were crusty career enlisted men with little patience for young officers.  I made it a point to treat them all with respect and, above all, to talk with and listen to them.  I felt that some other officers, especially the ring-knockers who had come out of the academy, relied far too much on the number of stripes they had to bolster their authority — and I also saw the pitfalls of doing so.  The officers who did not listen to the crew often found it difficult to achieve their goals.  And examples of this behavior went all the way to the top, to the captain in place when I began my first deployment.

This captain created conditions for the crew to misbehave and then came down hard on these young men when they took advantage of the opportunity.  But his gravest mistake, in my view, was an unwillingness to listen to the thoughts of the people who were subordinate to him.

6 Steps to Building a Powerhouse Organization

Silhouette Of Basketball Basket

This is a guest post by James M. Kerr. James is a Partner at BlumShapiro Consulting. He is a business strategist and organizational behaviorist.  His latest book is The Executive Checklist-A Guide to Setting Direction and Managing Change.  You can follow him on twitter.

Chemistry is the Secret to Success

The tip-off of the annual NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship triggered a question in my head: “How does a business leader build a perennial powerhouse like some of those NCAA basketball teams do every year?”

Clearly, the finest companies in the world are the ones where management and staff share an unrelenting passion to be the best.  How do leaders foster this passion for winning?  Certainly, getting the right people on the team, setting a common goal and enabling success differentiates the best from the rest.  But, there’s an intangible in the equation, the importance of which should not be ignored. It’s called chemistry.

 

Placing your highest regard on impeccable execution leaves no room for mediocrity. -James Kerr

 

Why is chemistry important?  Simply put, high performing people resent mediocre performing ones and mediocre performers begrudge those that perform at the highest level of achievement.  Indeed, getting the chemistry right is as important to the establishment of ongoing business success as garnering a talented team and constructing a compelling vision for it to follow.

We all want to be captivated by a “Big Idea.”  It’s part of the human condition to want to be part of something special and contribute to making it so.  Once enthralled, we want to be surrounded by like-minded people who share our enthusiasm and thirst to achieve.

As business leaders, it is our job to provide a vivid and exciting vision and ensure that we hire the “right” people – ones that buy in, fit in and want to work together to realize that stirring vision.  And, my friends, the latter comes down to understanding and managing “chemistry.”

 

The best businesses consistently remain fixated on being the best. -James Kerr

 

Building the “Right” Chemistry

So, what steps can be taken to shape winning chemistry within an organization?  There is no simple recipe.  However, there are six guideposts that leaders can use to move the process forward, including:

 

1. Champion a “Do Your Job” attitude – Do your job.  There is much implied in those three simple words, including being prepared, paying attention to detail, working hard, and putting the team ahead of yourself.   It also points to the need for senior leadership to ensure that every member of his or her organization understands what their job is and that they prepare every day to execute it.