What Great Leaders and Brands Do

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Very often, when we go around the room at one of my Vistage mastermind group meetings, I notice that the majority of people are confronting very similar issue, even though they have completely different businesses. It appears that we work through different issues at different times of the year. For instance, at one CEO meeting, people were re-thinking organizational charts, and three completely different companies had the same issue: what do you do with long-term, loyal staff members who are no longer handling the jobs they now have as competently as you need?

This week, in my Trusted Advisor Group, people were re-thinking where their companies are headed, and what they want from themselves and the companies. As one member noted, he started the business to accomplish something important and provide great service to his clients; but running a growing company and dealing with cultural and strategic staff issues, wasn’t fun.

As we discussed the issues, many of the members realized they needed to take time and decide what they really wanted to do with their time, how those decisions would change how the company does business. And, based on these insights forge a new brand identity for the firm.

In order to forge a great, new brand, We discussed “What Great Brands Do by Denise Lee Yohn. She explore seven principles integral to building a great brand:

  • Start Inside – cultivate a vibrant corporate culture around the brand
  • Avoid Selling Products – develop superior emotional connections through products
  • Ignore Trends – challenge and anticipate trends
  • Don’t Chase Customers – accept that your brands is NOT for everyone
  • Sweat the Small Stuff – overcome silos to alight and unify all your customer experiences
  • Commit and Stay Committed – sacrifice short-term profit to maintain brand integrity
  • Never Have to Give Back – make social contributions by creating shared value.

She notes that great brands thoroughly incorporate these principles. They address:

  • Culture – how you cultivate a brand culture and mindset
  • Planning – how you decide which activities your brands should undertake and which to avoid
  • Execution – how to achieve ultimate fulfillment.

For instance by not chasing after customers who really don’t resonate with your brand, you’ll find serving the “right” customers more profitable and sustainable. Indeed, one of the members raised the question as to why his “close rate” was so low. After reviewing the facts with the group, it because obvious that he was pitching prospects who didn’t resonate with the brand (e.g., they weren’t ready to spend more money for a superior service) and should have been screened out earlier.

What’s your experience with your company? Are you having second thoughts about where it’s going and what your role is? Is it time to reconsider your role and what the brand should stand for in the future?   How are you forging a new, great brand? Let us know.

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