It seems like a silly question since dozens of factors contribute to a brand’s success or failure. It could fail because of bad service or bad products, or maybe the business is just in a bad location.
7 Brand Components
1. Be enticing. 2. Be unique 3. Be timeless. 4. Be new. 5. Be simple. 6. Be consistent 7. Be adaptable.
These factors fuel a common misconception that only “bad” brands fail and “good” ones thrive, but that simply isn’t true. You could have a good idea, but it will still topple if an investor pulls their support. You could have good service, but it won’t matter if nobody knows who you are.
That second example is key: many new companies fail because nobody knows who they are. To that end, one of the primary responsibilities for every entrepreneur is to create a strong brand identity.
“Every great brand is like a great story.” -Kevin Plank
Creating a brand identity—with ad campaigns, content marketing, a corporate voice, and so on—can be daunting even for experienced entrepreneurs. That’s why it’s better to start with smaller branding tools such as a powerful logo. It may not seem massively significant, but a good logo can create brand awareness and give you a platform from which to launch the rest of your brand identity.
Just like any other part of starting a company, your logo’s ability to resonate with customers will help make or break your business. Whether you work with a logo design professional or design it on your own, be sure to include these 6 necessary components for a successful logo.
“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” -Jeff Bezos
Recently, I purchased a gift basket for an employee who goes above and beyond, day after day. She never seeks praise, but quietly serves others in a way that is admirable. She consistently demonstrates the 9 Qualities of A Servant Leader. The basket we picked was pictured on the website and looked like this:
Yum, right? Full of fresh fruit and other goodies, we thought it would demonstrate some small measure of gratitude for all she has done for others. That picture set our expectations and it seemed a fitting thank you.
Companies, like people, can go off track. A simple error compounds. The wrong attitude takes root. A poorly designed strategy is implemented. Perhaps the focus is just a bit off, sending everything off course. It happens.
What do you do if you are off track? How do you recognize the signs?
There are two branding experts that I turn to when it comes to branding and revitalizing brands: Larry Light and Joan Kiddon. They not only have the experience, but their advice is my favorite kind: practical and actionable. I’m not one for studying theories that I can’t immediately use.
I recently spoke with the authors about the troubling behaviors and attitudes that cause companies to mess up their brand. They have identified 12 ways that brands go awry. Their updated book on branding, Six Rules of Brand Revitalization, is a must-read on the subject.
“Arrogance leads to complacency which destroys innovation and leaves you out of date.”
How do you pull a culture out of arrogance, especially if they don’t realize it?
Often it takes a sense of urgency, a perception of an impending crisis. Change is difficult. An arrogant culture resists change until it seems that there is no option. Change or die. Dramatize the need for change. The most dangerous disease is complacency. Arrogance can lead to complacency. Complacency can keep your eyes closed to innovation and leave you out of date with your customers. The common expression, “Go back to basics,” is often used to defend resisting change. Going backwards will not guide marketers how to best go forward.
“Culture change is led from the top. The leader sets the tone.”
Culture change is led from the top. The leader sets the tone. Sometimes a leadership change is necessary. This is what happened at McDonald’s in 2002. The new leadership immediately dramatized the need for change. Jim Cantalupo, the new CEO, created a sense of urgency.
We recommend the four steps of Breaking the LOCK on Brand Troubles: Fix Leadership; then leadership can fix the Organization alignment. Cultural change is an imperative. Knowledge is a powerful force. Become a learning culture…
12 Branding Sins
1: The arrogance of success
2: The comfort of complacency
3: The building of organizational barriers and bureaucratic processes
4: The focus on analyst satisfaction rather than on customer satisfaction
5: The belief that what worked yesterday will work today
6: The failure to innovate
7: The lack of focus on the core customer
8: The backtracking to basics
9: The loss of relevance
10: The lack of a coherent Plan to Win
11: The lack of a balanced Brand-Business Scorecard
12: The disregard for the changing world
Is there one that is most often the culprit in brand failures?
As we say in the book, the Twelve Tendencies for Trouble are not independent of each other. These are all interconnected forces. A company that succumbs to one seems to succumb to more than one. There is no single culprit. Each of the Twelve Tendencies for Trouble must be avoided.
“Problem solution is the most effective way to stay relevant.”
If you’re a leader, you know how important it is to create and maintain a culture of trust. But knowing it and doing it are different. How do leaders at all levels of an organization make this a reality?
“Trust is the operating system for a life well-lived.” –Joel Peterson
JetBlue Chairman Joel Peterson’s career has provided him a window into the importance of trust. In addition to his role at JetBlue, Joel is a consulting professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and chairman of an investment firm. His new book,The 10 Laws of Trust: Building the Bonds that Make a Business Great, is an exceptionally great read.
I recently had the opportunity to talk with Joel about all things “trust.”
“To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved.” –George MacDonald
Empowering and turning over control to another person. It takes the same leap of faith as when we trust a pilot to fly a plane or a surgeon to operate on us. We give trust in increments, measure results, assess risks and grant more trust until we find we’ve extended our reach, expanded our horizons and found greater joy in our interactions with others.
“Accountability is the requisite companion to empowerment.” –Joel Peterson
You’ve seen the inside of many organizations and leadership teams from your vantage point as Chairman, as professor, as an investor, as a CFO, etc. When you first walk into an organization, what signs do you see that would lead you to say, “This is an organization with a high degree of trust?”
Surprisingly, high trust organizations are ones with conflict – with respectful disagreements that are ventilated, addressed and put to bed so they don’t fester underground. The best ideas win, not the most powerful or senior people. And they’re typically places where there’s humor, self-deprecation, stories, traditions and people who genuinely like each other.
“A man who trusts nobody is apt to be a man nobody trusts.” –Harold Macmillan
What’s a leader’s role in cultivating a culture of trust? How have you seen this go wrong?
The leader’s role is vital. An EVP at Cisco once told me that she found she couldn’t be happier than her unhappiest child. In like manner, an organization’s boundary of trust is set by its leader. It’ll never expand beyond the leader’s trustworthiness. If he or she has a big “say-do gap,” the contagion will spread. If leaders compartmentalize their lives and file violations of trust under the “private label,” they’ll be mistrusted. People are smart. They’ll figure it out, and it’s not long before their wariness infects everyone and everything. As fear takes over, people become less likely to innovate, to take risks, to trust. This can either explode in trust-destroying outcomes such as the recent VW scandal or end up in bureaucratic inaction, caution and failure to perform such as at the Veterans’ Administration.
“In difficult times, trust is a leader’s most potent currency.” –Joel Peterson
How is respect linked to trust? How do you show respect?
Respect is the medium of exchange between parties that are building trust. A failure to show respect is a trust show-stopper – even if you’re not the person who is being treated disrespectfully. This extends from teammates to suppliers to lenders to shareholders to customer. Nothing shows greater respect for another than listening to them. It’s at the heart of customer service and team-building. I think of it as listening without agenda, listening to understand, not to respond, to agree or disagree, not until there’s a break so I can respond.
“In a trust-driven culture, respect is prized at every level.” –Joel Peterson
If you are looking to develop a strong global brand, you will find two names consistently mentioned as “go-to” experts: Larry Light and Joan Kiddon. They have just released a second edition of their book on branding, Six Rules of Brand Revitalization.
I recently spoke with the authors about their new book and the rules of branding.
6 Rules of Brand Revitalization
1. Refocus the organization.
Where do most corporate leaders get it wrong?
They tend to believe that “refocus” can happen through tools and templates and HR seminars. Refocus is more than filling in the blanks and talking the talk. When there is a conflict between strategy and culture, culture wins. A commitment to change requires refocusing of the cultural mindset that emanates from the top down. Merely embarking on a training program to encourage a focus on new tools, templates, and techniques can distract from the need to accomplish both the behavioral and attitudinal modifications that foster culture change.
“Refocusing an organization around common goals is the first step for brand revitalization.” -Light / Kiddon
What tip would you provide to a leadership team in the midst of this refocus?
Leaders are different from commanders. Commanders manage by telling people what to do. They create acceptors. Leaders create believers. Acceptors go through the motions complying with the new processes and behaviors. Believers have true commitment that this refocus is a better path to a successful future. Acceptors are not the same as adherents. The leader must be the one to set the tone and drive the change for all to see and emulate. Leaders must demonstrate commitment if they expect people to become believers in the new world.
“The leader must set the tone and drive change.” -Light / Kiddon
What are the best ways to stay on top of changing customer expectations?
Stay up-to-date with all available information. Read a variety of sources, not just in your business’ field but also across many disciplines. Include regular market research reports. But also include what is happening in the world around us. Be observant. Be informed. Be open to new ideas.
In this world of access to “big data’” there is now a focus on data analytics. Analysis can tell us about what is happening today. Analysis is about the decomposition of data. But real insight does not come from analysis. It comes from creative synthesis. Analysis is about taking data apart. Synthesis is about putting together disparate sources of information in original ways. Synthesis is about detecting patterns that others fail to see. Keeping a brand relevant will involve both analysis and synthesis. Make sure that the organization is open and conducive to creative synthesis.
The total brand experience includes consideration, shopping, purchase, use, service, online, offline, brand communications, handling of customer complaints, and so on. Every touch point with the customer is a part of the total brand experience. It includes every aspect of the brand promise: functional benefits, emotional and social rewards, solutions to problems, and so forth.
“Every touch point with the customer is a part of the total brand experience.” -Light / Kiddon