7 Brand Building Principles of the Best Brands

What Makes a Brand Great

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. Her book on branding is a must read: What Great Brands Do: The Seven Brand-Building Principles that Separate the Best from the Rest.

“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.

Saying More With Less

 

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?

Confidence: More Compelling Than Competence

This is a guest post by Derek Lewis, “America’s #1 Ghostwriter for Business Experts.” Learn more about writing business books at www.dereklewis.com.

The Secret to Performance

That’s the secret to performance: conviction. The right note played tentatively still misses its mark, but play boldly and no one will question you. – Rachel Hartman, Seraphina

Dan never failed to astonish me.

If he had a class project due at 8:00 a.m. but had yet to start it, he would say, “Oh, I’ll just go talk to the professor. He’ll understand.”

There was no hesitation in his voice. He never wavered in his absolute belief that he would be granted an extension. And without exception, he always was.

Sometimes he probably deserved an extension. Mostly, he didn’t. But he could charm, cajole, and coerce every professor he ever needed to.

My coworker Craig had the same talent. He could enter a conversation with people vehemently opposed to his political views, but by the end of the discussion they would usually be nodding their heads as they reconsidered their stance. More than once, I heard, “I don’t know why, but if you ran for office, I’d vote for you.”

 

That’s the secret to performance: conviction. -Rachel Hartman

 

I have stood on the sidelines and watched these maestros conduct their magic. Occasionally, they would have to poke me to make me hide my astonishment, lest I let the cat out of the bag. You could say they were masters of manipulation, and that would be true in some instances. But most of the time, my two charismatic friends simply persuaded and influenced their listeners.

It helped if they knew what they were talking about, but I’ve seen them plunge into situations for which they had no preparation and come out with the upper hand. The strength of their magic did not come from their competence of the subject matter—it came from their conviction that, whatever the issue, they were right.

Confidence Trumps Competence

I am fascinated with people like Dan and Craig because their approach is so alien to me.

By my nature, I focus on facts and reason. My instinctive approach to selling, communication, and influencing used to be to present the facts in logical order, and then allow the other person to draw their own conclusions. From one point of view, I sold competence.

While that may seem an ethical and transparent approach to business, it made for a lousy living.

Competence matters. Sincerity and honesty matter. Ethics are a cornerstone of long-term success. These things are important. But when it comes to working, selling, and communicating—that is, compelling other people to act—competence and such have never been enough to bring real success.

My mistake was in leaving out the key ingredient that came so naturally to my cohorts: confidence.

 

Competence without confidence just doesn’t cut it. –Derek Lewis

 

Sadly, I remember the time I cost Craig (and our company) a major client. If we had landed them, the client would have been our biggest by far. The recurring revenue from the contract would lift our company from being a marginal player to an “up and coming” enterprise.

Craig’s discussions with the client had gone well. By the end of the big meeting, the client showed all the signs of having made their choice. Things seemed sure.

The next week, I was sent in to do a follow-up meeting—really, a meet-and-greet with the head honchos. I was nervous about taking on the client, though. It would mean hiring more people, learning some new tools, and significantly changing how we operated.

But the truth was that the client intimidated me.

5 Principles of Ultimate Influence

All of us must learn to influence others. Whether persuading your child to eat broccoli or supervising a team, the ability to influence is important to working with others.

In those situations, do you see the other person as an adversary? Do you resort to manipulation or coercion to try to get what you want?  Or do you understand how to influence and win that person over?

The World’s Greatest Influencers

The greatest influencers are not manipulators. They aren’t pushy. They don’t create animosity. Instead, they seem to win people naturally, effortlessly, making everyone happy with the outcome.

How they do it is the subject of this post.

 

BobBurg

Bob Burg is a speaker, a blogger, and a best selling author. He’s perhaps best known from his many stage appearances as a speaker for large organizations.  You may also know him by his runaway best selling book, The Go-Giver.  I have read all of his books and learned from all of his work.

His latest book is Adversaries into Allies: Win People Over Without Manipulation or Coercion.  It’s one of those books that you cannot stop reading.  I have dog-eared and underlined so much of the book that he likely wouldn’t recognize it if he saw my copy.

There are so many lessons in this book, which reads like a modern day version of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People.  Reading it, I realized that there are dozens of questions to ask Bob.  I chose to focus on the five principles of ultimate influence shared throughout the book.

 

Sometimes the most influential thing we can do is listen. –Bob Burg

 1. Control your own emotions

Bob, I want to ask you a question about each of your five principles to influence and move people to a different thought or action.

The first is to control your own emotions.  Why is controlling your emotions the very first step and why is it harder for some people than others?

Skip, as human beings we are emotional creatures. Sure, in certain ways we are logical, but we are basically driven by our emotions. That’s often very counterproductive. The problem isn’t that we have emotions (emotions are a wonderful part of life), it’s being “controlled by our emotions.” When this is the case we are simply not in a position to think clearly, to think logically and be able to take a negative situation or person and elicit a positive outcome. When we are in control of ourselves and of our emotions, the opposite is true.

For example: If a person says or does something you find offensive, it’s important that you be in control of your emotions and – as Zig Ziglar taught – “respond” rather than “react.” When you react, you are allowing that person (and your emotions) to control you; when you respond, you are in control of yourself and your emotions and are now ready to create an environment for a winning result for everyone involved.

bob-burg-scentsy

2. Understand the clash of belief systems

 

Your second principle is to understand the clash of belief systems.  This one may not be as intuitive so please tell me more about it.

A belief is a subjective truth. It’s the truth as we understand the truth to be. But that doesn’t mean it’s “the truth” (though we are usually certain it is). While our belief systems are a combination of upbringing, environment, schooling, news media, television shows, movies, popular culture, societal mores, etc., it is pretty much formed by the time we’re six or seven years old. Some of these beliefs work for us, are productive and helpful, and keep us safe. Most are counterproductive and serve no constructive purpose.

 

Tact is the language of strength. –Mike Burg

 

So, we are pretty much controlled by a belief system we are not even aware we possess. Add on top of that, the person with whom we’re about to have a difficult interpersonal transaction is also controlled by a belief system that they are not even aware they possess. Now add to the mix that as human beings we tend to believe that others think as we think, and you’ve got the makings of a huge clash of belief systems.

We don’t need to understand their belief system; what we do need to understand is that their belief system is most likely much different from ours. Only when we consciously understand that are we in a position to proceed in a way that a mutually beneficial result can occur.

3. Acknowledge their ego

The third principle is to acknowledge their ego.  You say that the “ego is the ultimate driving force in everything people do.”  Give me an example of how to acknowledge ego in a legitimate way with sincerity.

Why Selling to the Top Can Leave You At The Bottom

If you’re in sales, you may have heard that you want to get to the top.  Why bother with people who can’t make decisions?

And then you attend a sales training session where you hear of the latest clever selling tactics.  How to get around the gatekeeper.  How to bypass everyone else and get right to the CEO.

You’ve heard some of it before:

  • Call just before or after business hours in the hopes the assistant isn’t yet on duty and the phone rings in the executive’s office.
  • Sweet-talk the executive assistant.
  • Be vague, misleading or yes, even lie in order to make it to the CEO or the highest executive you can.

I’m filled with empathy for the sales profession.  After all, my first corporate job was in sales.  (I was also a lawyer, so that may have made me the most hated guy around: a lawyer salesman?)

Whenever possible I enjoy answering my own phone, especially if I know it’s a sales call.  I’ve stunned sales people who are stammering on the other end of the line.  One guy was so ready to give his misleading lines to an assistant that he literally hung up when he realized he already had me on the line.

But, this post isn’t about how to sell to the CEO.  This is about when to sell to the CEO and when not to sell to the CEO or C Suite.

Here’s the problem with the “sell to the top” theory that most trainers don’t understand:

It can be a waste of time.

You can spend all kinds of time trying to reach someone in the C-Suite instead of identifying the person most interested in your product or service.  Let’s say I’m the CEO at a large company, and you call me about office supplies.  The fact is that there’s likely someone in charge of this area, and it isn’t the CEO.  Do you think that the CEO is going to listen to your presentation and then command the purchasing department to override all protocols and buy staplers and highlighters from you?

It can hurt your chances.