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BW Businessworld

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It’s A brutal world for CEOs, entrepreneurs and all those responsible for growing their businesses. In every industry, competition is intense like never before. Customers are spoilt for choice. Companies must strive to differentiate and prove value. We live in a transparent world in which customers can easily expose unsatisfactory experiences with brands. This means that companies must absolutely deliver on the promises they make. Advertising alone cannot build your brand.

Traditional branding or the practice of creating an image to serve as the face of the company is no longer as relevant as it once was.

In the scenario painted above, brand building trumps branding. This is one of the key insights from Denise Lee Yohn’s first book in which she makes a very persuasive case for an entirely fresh way of thinking about your brand and the way you can use it to grow your business. She exhorts you to remember that your brand is a verb: your brand is not your image, your brand is ‘what’ you do. Your brand is in constant motion and is constantly evolving. It is not an identity to be leaned on but an instrument to be put to use. A brand is about action, not advertising.

Thought of as an instrument, the brand fuels, aligns and guides every decision that a business must make. Denise calls this the brand-as-business management philosophy. It calls for putting brand squarely at the heart of a business. How you define your brand must drive everything from your business strategy to recruitment to customer experience.

Denise draws on her 25 years of brand consulting experience to share the brand-building principles of an exceptional group of diverse brands, including IBM, Lululemon, Patagonia, Google, Amazon, REI and Chipotle. What separates these businesses from the rest is their ability to conceive their brands as strategic platforms. The author shows how these companies identify the key values and attributes that define their brands and then make their brands their business. By making brands the core of operations and putting them into action in such a manner, these companies are able to close the gap between promise and delivery. It also helps to build a stronger culture in which the values of the brand are deeply embedded, enabling stronger relationships with all stakeholders.

Denise takes you through seven brand-building principles in a logical progression from culture to planning to execution. Each chapter is full of recent examples (albeit very North America focused)and practical tools such as the Brand Toolbox, Brand Touchpoint Wheel, Brand Platform and Customer Experience Architecture, among others. At the end of every chapter you will be curious to try out the tools for your own brand.

Anyone interested in learning about practical tools that connect brands to business growth should add this to their cart.

The reviewer is MD, Landor Associates

(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 08-09-2014)