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Duane Bailey is a regular contributor to The Chief Storyteller® online conversation. He has helped organizations of all sizes drive growth in revenues and market share through the development and delivery of key business messages that resonate with target audiences. He holds an MBA in International Business and a BS in Marketing. He brings 28 years of experience in marketing communications and high technology sales.
I stumbled upon a great read the other day, "Tribes", by international best-selling author Seth Godin. The book is a compendium of short articles on leadership. The basic premise is that anyone with a passion for something can create a movement. All it takes is a deliberate choice. A choice to lead.
With experience as both a manager and a leader in a variety of not-for-profit and corporate organizations, I found this book fascinating. It spoke to the not so subtle differences between a manager and a leader. As described in the book, managers are process-oriented, reactive, defenders of the status quo, predictable, focused on employees and their assignments, and often stuck "playing today's game by yesterday's rules." Leaders are visionary, proactive, agents of change, inspiring, skilled in attracting followers, trusting, forward-looking and passionate.
My experience tells me that organizations who thrive (i.e., as measured by sustained growth in members, member engagement, revenues or profitability) are those whose top spots are occupied by leaders. Leaders use their passion and ideas to build communities of followers, or tribes. They recognize the world is changing and they respond with innovation. They lead with fresh ideas and they empower others to take risks and make good decisions. By trusting and respecting others, they accomplish the extraordinary and they move you forward.
What do you think? Are you a manager or a leader? The choice to lead is yours.
For more on leadership and its impact on an organization, please see:
• What Story Is Your Organizational Culture Telling?
• What Makes Your Company a “Best Place to Work?”
• Accelerate Growth and Innovation – Encourage a Culture of Risk-Taking
Brand repositioning, or rebranding, is a process typically undertaken by organizations whose role in the marketplace has evolved over time. Its purpose is to change perceptions – both internally and externally. Internally, processes are improved and employees are united under a consistent message, or brand promise. Externally, the brand’s delivery of its new brand promise provides customers with a stronger sense of who the brand is and what it stands for.
Organizations who undertake a rebranding do so with the intent of building brand equity, increasing customer acquisitions, improving customer retention, strengthening customer loyalty/advocacy and increasing profitability.
If your organization’s role in the marketplace has evolved and you are looking to improve its performance across these metrics, then perhaps its time to consider a brand repositioning. Here are five tips for a successful makeover:
• Start with a plan that includes targeted milestones and an expected ROI
A specific schedule of who will achieve what by when, along with the expected incremental sales increase for every dollar spent on the rebranding, will ensure timely, actionable and measurable results.
• Test your rebranding recommendations on a small subset of your target audience
The stakes of any rebranding effort are simply too high for anyone to ignore the need for testing. The impact of any repositioning recommendation should be measured among sample test and control groups before full-scale activation. Declining sales after recent rebranding efforts by brands like JC Penney and Tropicana underscore the importance of testing.
• Listen to your customers and non-customers
Organizations who listen only to their best customers learn why those customers stay with them and nothing about why disgruntled customers leave, or why those who are not current customers might be difficult to acquire.
• Leverage the experience and knowledge of your employees
Marketers who lack cross-functional experience (e.g., sales, operations, customer service, etc.) or institutional knowledge (e.g., company, industry, markets, etc.) will find it difficult to make informed rebranding decisions and are less likely to obtain lasting organizational buy-in for the rebranding effort.
• Avoid the temptation to start over
Organizations who have met with success in the past have obviously done some things right. Successful rebranding efforts build on those achievements, and the agencies whose creative talents fueled their progress, instead of discarding them.
I decided to rebrand myself in January 2010. I started tweeting. I did a major refresh on my LinkedIn profile. In the months and years since, I opened a Facebook account and created a Facebook Page. I also opened accounts in Foursquare and Pinterest. And I even started measuring my online influence in Kred and Klout.
Three years later, I’ve accumulated an array of quantifiable successes many small business marketers would be proud of:
• Over 2,700 Twitter followers and growing (see chart below), some of whom have been with me from the start
• Over 400 connections in LinkedIn, a cadre of loyal professional connections from before and after my brand refresh
• Over 50 friends and family connections on Facebook, some of whom go back to my undergraduate college days at Fairfield
• A Kred influence score of 664 (out of 1,000) and an outreach level score of 6 (out of 10)
• A Klout score of 52 (out of 100)
• Top positions on Google Page 1 search results
Much of the success I have had in building my brand can be attributed to a deliberate adherence to the business storytelling and communications mantras we espouse here at The Chief Storyteller®. The following are among my personal favorites:
• People are at the heart of every great story
• Social communities are built on personal and business stories
• It’s all about them
• People crave connections
• Content is king
If you are looking to build a brand – personal or business – remember these mantras and be sure to keep it social. After all, brand building is really about people, the stories you share and the connections you make.
For more on my own brand building experience with social media, please see:
• Social Media – Are You Connected?
• Are You Embracing Social Media?
• Social Media Playground Rules – Are You a Giver or a Taker?
• Social Media Is About Building Relationships
• 5 Insights on Marketing Your Brand in Social Media
“I guarantee it.”
Sound familiar? If you’re like me, you’ve seen and heard Men’s Wearhouse founder George Zimmer close countless TV ads with this simple promise. It’s a promise that elevates customer satisfaction to the highest priority, allowing customers who are not completely happy with the fit, quality or fabric of any item to return their purchase within 90 days.
Many brands talk about their commitment to customer satisfaction. Others talk about how easy it is to make decisions you can feel good about when doing business with them. Few brands, however, actually deliver. Men's Wearhouse is one brand who does. What makes them unique is their ability to provide a flawless, solution-based customer experience.
I recently walked into a Men’s Wearhouse store with the intent of buying a single suit. I was greeted immediately and paired with Jenny, one of their style experts. I told her what I was looking for – a suit with a more modern look – and she brought out several different suits for me to try on. By the time I met with the tailor, I had decided to buy two suits.
As I was being fitted, Jenny brought over several pairs of shoes to try on. The styles and colors she selected were ones that would complement my new suits. She then walked me over to a table, where she had laid out the suits I had just purchased. Nested within the suits were several different shirt and tie combinations, along with belts to match the shoes. I also left the store with two new pairs of shoes, along with the intent to purchase some of the remaining items in the near future.
While I had entered the store looking to buy a product (i.e., a suit), Jenny made the extra effort to ensure my satisfaction with the product by offering me a complete solution (i.e., a modern look). For the brand, this translates into higher sales and stronger customer loyalty. For me, this means I am going to like the way I look. Guaranteed.
I was at a gathering hosted by some friends recently, which was followed by a meal at a local restaurant. I sat at a table with several others from the gathering, some of whom I was meeting for the first time. Moments after the meal began, the man across from me asked about the license plate frame on the back of my car, which proudly proclaimed my status as a Fairfield University alumnus.
I soon discovered he was retired - a Professor Emeritus - from Fairfield University and that he had taught Accounting classes when I was a student there, up until a few years ago.
The couple sitting next to him and his wife then mentioned they had a niece and nephew who had earned degrees from Fairfield and asked if I knew them - it turns out I knew the niece, who like me, was a Marketing major and one year ahead of me.
Soon, people around us were talking about Fairfield University and how much they loved the university brand! Although the school was miles away from where we were eating lunch that day, it seemed almost serendipitous that so many people with connections to the University had somehow come together and had become fast friends.
Small world, I thought. Then I realized the power of branding and how inexpensive promotional items like license plate frames, window clings, bumper stickers, car sign magnets, etc. can bring people together by generating conversation around a brand. Items like these are a great way to reward customers for their affiliation with your brand...and to bring brand loyalists together.
People like talking about brands they love. What is your brand doing to bring them together?