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The Eight Benefits of Branding – Part 7, The Brand Lens

Lens.jpgJay Gould is a noted businessman, a turnaround specialist who takes on troubled business lines and brings them back to profitability. He’s worked his magic at Newell Rubbermaid, Graco, Pepperidge Farm and, most recently, at American Standard. Gould is first to say that his successes come, in large part, from “viewing all … decisions through the Brand Lens”. What is the Brand Lens? It’s nothing less than a vital management tool that helps you make the correct strategic decisions – every time. Use it to “future-proof” your business.

The Brand Lens is the vantage you get by asking how each management decision you make will affect your brand. Imagine your company is facing a significant strategic decision. You’ll have a lot of tools to help you make that decision. These may include financial models, operational considerations, 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 the decision will help you keep your brand promise or if it will contribute to a drift away from that commitment.

The prime directive of any business is to keep its brand promise, at any cost. Therefore, any decision that dilutes one’s ability to keep it, or distracts from it, or hinders management, in any way, from keeping it, is a bad decision. Any decision resulting in a renewed commitment to keeping the brand promise, or to doing a better job of keeping it, is, of course, a good decision. Sounds almost too easy, doesn’t it?

Yet, every day, businesses of all sorts and sizes make important strategic decisions without ever taking into consideration how the moves will affect their brands. Companies merge. Manufacturing is relocated. New lines of products are launched. All without taking brand value into consideration. It’s no wonder so many businesses are so badly branded and, as such, fail to take advantage of the many benefits that a strong brand delivers. No wonder so many are floundering – marketing in the dark. No wonder so many fail to achieve their full, potential value.

The Brand Lens is often underestimated as a management tool precisely because it is so easy to employ. But don’t be fooled. It has an unmatched record of pointing out the right decision in any given circumstance.

Managers sometimes dismiss the Brand Lens because it spotlights realities they aren’t prepared to address. But, when a manager ignores the truth in favor of his/her own preconceived biases … well, that’s a bad manager. Don’t be a bad manager.

It’s been said that Steve Jobs really hated the words “branding” and “marketing”. Because he believed those functions should not be segregated from the rest of the company but, 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, that Apple is unsurpassed in branding and marketing. Apple is a perfect example of a company that thinks about, and lives up to, its brand promise – every day and in every department.

Apple, FedEx, Amazon, Target, McDonalds, Nike, Starbucks. These are all businesses that put their brand at the front and center of everything they do. They never make a decision without, first, viewing it through the Brand Lens. They’ve insulated themselves, as much as possible, from making dumb strategic mistakes. And, one more thing you might notice … they’re all market leaders.

Best Branding Reads – Week of June 20, 2016

Still The Greatest: Muhammad Ali’s Brand Will Live On
You just knew someone was going to write this article.

6 Ways To Maintain Brand Continuity
Great read: How to keep your brand truth constant in a world of rapid change

At 365 By Whole Foods, Experience Might Be More Important than Food
More on Whole Foods’ play for younger, less wealthy shoppers.

Building Brands On What People Value
Weekend read: Depicting your brand in a way that consumers find valuable. 

How Walmart Plans Growth of Up to $60B in Next Three Years
Walmart’s scary new growth plan.

New Logo and Identity for Personal Group
OK. Just one more smiley face logo because this one is awesome. But no more!

Brands And Trademark Law
An important read, but talk to your attorney before taking action.

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Best Branding Reads
Week of August 3, 2020

Brand Experience During Crisis Recovery: The 5-Senses Approach
They’ve found that triggering response in all the senses calms and draws consumers closer to brands.

14 Considerations For Successful Brand Strategy
These were developed by Nike’s pretty-damn-smart “Brand Guardians”.

As the World Fell Silent, What Noise Should Brands Fill It With Again?
Shhh. Can you hear it? The world is literally quieter now.

Why Disruptions Favor Emerging Trends & Brands
You’re going to need a new brand strategy to survive in the coming years.

New Logo for Mars2020
Very good – and almost as cute as WALL-E.

Nike + Ikea? And other logo mashups
Just for fun this weekend.

Skippy Flips Their Lid Over Jif
Food lawyer George Salmas chronicles another battle in the trademarking wars.