Dusting off ‘brand’…

I just read a great post by Jackie over at Heavybag, what is a brand? who owns a brand? I couldn’t agree more with what she said about how to build a great brand.  Here is a little bit from the comments I made on Jackie’s post:

Speaking from the perspective of a former brand guy, here is my take on it.

Who own’s a brand? everyone and no one. It is a collection of perceptions based on brand image (what you project) and brand equity (what the consumer perceives as valuable to them). It is shaped by both what you say and what you do. The smart brand strategist/manager is an architect or conductor setting out the desired positioning, the management system, the monitors and the tools/tactics to deliver. Social has added yet another layer on top of what was once an advertising led initiative. I helped lead a transition in the brand community back in the early 2000s to move brand from advertising to customer experience (it was fun and I met all the godfathers of brand strategy and spoke about it all over). So I look at all the brand talk today and say it’s another phase of the evolution of putting more control into the hands of the user/consumer and putting more emphasis on participation & management from the brand ‘owners’ perspective. I remind people that for most sustainable brands there is a P&L – I’d say that is some form of ownership ; ) So, when I pitch brand people I try to focus on where they are today and how social layers on top and adds value to everything they are already charged with. I’m going to be getting deep into the brand/social marketing space in the coming months, so I’ve had to dust off my brand expertise ; )

Jackie’s post got me thinking back to my experience as a brand strategist. I spent a great deal of my time answering a variety of the same questions and pushing the thought leadership across the brand strategy community/industry. I was part of the leadership team that drove a huge shift in brand strategy for the world’s 3rd most valuable brand – IBM. We moved the company (from C-level to frontline) from a management system that focused on brand being about image and advertising to one that is about equities and experience. This was a huge challenge, a fun challenge and one we received a ton of recognition for in the global community (awards, speaking engagements, blah blah blah). I learned a ton about leadership, change management and sales as much as I contributed to the thought leadership of brand (new methods for strategy & positioning), customer value (models deriving real value and economic upside) and advanced analytics (Structural Equation Models, etc). Anyway, this is were my perspective is coming from. I’ll probably start posting more on the topic now that brand is becoming an integral part of the social dialogue. I’m happy to chat with anyone working in the social marketing space. It’s a new area of interest for me as I think it is a nice blend of my past and present passions.

3 Responses to “Dusting off ‘brand’…”
  1. Adrienne says:

    Me? working in the social marketing space? Not really… not yet anyway, but here’s the scenario: I’m 6 months into a 2 year term as chair of the board of directors of a 29 year old non profit organization struggling through a transition in leadership, change management, and dwindling revenues. Everyone talks about marketing and branding being key to renewed success, but the few approaches that have been put forth seem as stale as 29 year old bread.

    This article sheds new light and offers a fresh perspective on branding. In some ways, I do view the organization as a start up while it emerges from a stagnant period in its growth cycle; and to that end, I can envision a new way of working and fundraising for the organization wherein the concepts in this article, strategically applied, will help to recapture customer and donor loyalty (the old client base); while gaining traction with and engaging new communities (virtually through social media, and otherwise for the technically challenged among us), and even creating wealth.

    OK, well creating wealth is a bit over the top, but certainly increasing and sustaining operating revenues, and fortunately my VP is an IT/Business Mgmt/social butterfly/community activist who will be able to relate and will perhaps become an ally in orchestrating some new tactics.

    I found this article to be very informative and personally motivating. For me it brought to bear the nexus of business strategy, non profit altruism, critical thinking, and creative analysis
    that has me absolutely geeked! I love this website!

  2. gammill says:

    Thank you so much for the kind words Adrienne. I’m glad you like the site and find it helpful. I’ve actually stumbled upon talking about my ‘old’ expertise again. I’d welcome an opportunity to chat with you to share more insight that may help you on your journey. While I don’t currently consider myself a brand guy, my experience at IBM is one I’m not likely to forget. I have a host of articles (one I authored) that might be helpful as well. Here is a link to my article http://www.esomar.org/web/publication/paper.php?id=900
    I can send you a copy if you’d like. Again, thanks for the positive words and let me know if I can help you with anything.

  3. Adrienne says:

    You’re very welcome. I’m glad I stumbled onto the site as you were stumbling back on your old expertise. It’s new and refreshing to me and I would be grateful for a copy of the article. In the meantime, I’m going spend some more time exploring the site and reading other posts. Undoubtedly I will have questions along the way. I’ve got some catching up to do!
    Thank you!

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