A brand strategy is actually an extremely powerful decision-making tool for management. And senior executives should be using that tool to help with every decision. All too often, after a business successfully completes a branding or re-branding initiative, they roll it out, throw a party and then forget all about it. “Hey, the new logo is out there, right? Let Marketing run with it.” With this kind of attitude, is isn’t long before their brand is in the weeds again.
I’ve heard Steve Jobs really hated the words “branding” and “marketing”. He believed those functions should not be segregated from the rest of the company. Rather, they should permeate every aspect of the business and literally be built into the product. Thus, his obsession with design, user friendliness and customer experience. And it may seem ironic but, actually, it is because of his approach, Apple is unsurpassed in branding and marketing. Your brand is too valuable to be left to the Marketing department alone, no matter how good those guys may be.
Jay Gould is a turnaround specialist responsible for the success stories of American Standards, Newell Rubbermaid, Graco and Pepperidge Farm. Gould is first to say that his triumphs come, in large part, from “viewing all … decisions through the Brand Lens”. What is the Brand Lens? It’s the vantage you get by asking how each management decision you make will affect your brand. Keep in mind by “brand” here is defined as your relationship with your market.
Imagine your company is facing a significant strategic decision such as: Shall we move manufacturing to a different state? You’ll have a lot of tools to help you make that decision. These may include financial models, operational considerations, workforce availability, etc. But before you pull the trigger on the deal, take a moment to view the choice through your Brand Lens. Ask yourself if saying yes or no to this decision will help you keep your brand promise or if it will contribute to a drift away from that commitment.
If you have a strong brand strategy – one that you believe in – then, by all means, make the decision that will do the most to help you keep your brand promise. Never do anything that will make it more difficult to do so.
And if you don’t have a strong brand strategy … you won’t have access to this powerful strategic tool. Time to see about getting one.
Look at the leading companies in every market sector. They all use the Brand Lens as a decision-making guide.
The Brand Lens can be applied to less critical decisions too. Case in point: a loading dock worker who left his post to help a customer find his destination within the factory. He fell behind on his schedule but he turned the customer into a life-long brand champion.
The Brand Lens – everyone in the whole company should learn how to use it. But it’s absolutely essential for senior management.
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