San Francisco, CA (PRWEB) January 13, 2014
Ask a CEO or leader to define a “brand,” and they will often turn to the usual suspects: tagline, logo, advertising, public relations, social media. Traditionally, brands have been understood in this way – as outward-facing, image-focused expressions, confining the stewardship of the brand to marketing and advertising. But today’s most successful and iconic companies – think Zappos, Starbucks, and Nike – have one critical attribute in common: they have elevated brand-building from a siloed function and use their brand as a strategic management tool that guides every aspect of their business. And they have achieved higher-than-average profit margins as a result.
In her new book WHAT GREAT BRANDS DO: The Seven Brand-Building Principles that Separate the Best from the Rest (Jossey-Bass; January 27, 2014), brand-building consultant and speaker Denise Lee Yohn proves that a company’s brand is its most powerful tool for growth, and offers business leaders, owners, and general managers seven principles and powerful tools for putting the brand where it belongs: in the driver’s seat of the organization.
Yohn’s “brand-as-business” approach – the systematic management of the business around the brand – works, yet a recent survey of marketing executives revealed that 64% feel that their brands do not influence decisions made at their companies. This means that nearly two-thirds of companies are pouring millions of dollars into marketing and advertising without aligning their business strategies with the values and attributes they’re communicating. And the current brand thought leadership is not closing this gap, because most “best practices” focus narrowly on expressing the brand through advertising or design, marketing it through new media, or managing it through culture and employee engagement. The concept of using a brand as an operating tool has yet to be widely embraced at the highest levels of business. In WHAT GREAT BRANDS DO, Yohn seeks to shift this mindset by demonstrating how a brand-as-business approach fuels growth by driving culture, company operations, and customer experiences.
Yohn’s approach is based on 25 years of success helping companies build and position exceptional brands. After serving as lead strategist at advertising agencies for Burger King and Land Rover and as the marketing analyst for Jack-in-the-Box and Spiegel catalogs, Yohn went on to head Sony Electonics Inc.’s first ever brand office. During her time as vice president/general manager of brand and strategy, Yohn garnered major corporate awards, but she also experienced firsthand how even the strongest of companies can lose their advantage when the brand -building is relegated to marketing tactics. Yohn worked at Sony during the height of the digital transition, and watched Sony’s brand strength begin to weaken as fast followers and pioneering disruptors began to challenge it on pricing and innovation. She and her colleagues knew they needed to find new ways to leverage Sony’s brand value, but they faced the same hurdles that so many corporate leaders still face today: how to recognize the early warning signs in time, think differently, challenge ingrained ways of doing things that may have worked in the past, and make tough changes, even if it means replacing tested best practices with new principles.
WHAT GREAT BRANDS DO is the playbook Yohn wishes she and her colleagues had had to help them leverage Sony’s brand to face the business challenges of their time. She has since used the “brand-as-business” approach to build, position, and extend iconic brands in a number of industries and the same principles have been proven out by the experiences of some of the best companies in the world. Drawing on first-hand case studies, practical tools, and examples of iconic brands as varied as IBM, Patagonia, and Shake Shack, Yohn introduces the seven principles that epitomize great brands:
1. Great Brands Start Inside – cultivate a vibrant corporate culture around the brand
2. Great Brands Avoid Selling Products – develop superior emotional connections through products
3. Great Brands Ignore Trends – challenge and anticipate trends, rather than follow the
4. Great Brands Don’t Chase Customers – accept that your brand is not for everyone
5. Great Brands Sweat the Small Stuff – overcome silos to align and unify all your customer experiences
6. Great Brands Commit and Stay Committed – sacrifice short-term profit to maintain brand integrity
7. Great Brands Never Have to “Give Back” – make social contributions by creating shared value
Companies that embrace this brand-as-business approach will use their brands to fuel, align, and guide every person in the organization and every task they undertake. They will create value by exposing new growth opportunities, shaping business strategies, creating unified and focused teams, and connecting the daily activities of every employee to bigger picture. By reimagining brands as strategic tools, WHAT GREAT BRANDS DO will show leaders how to use their brands not just to gain a competitive edge, but to change the game completely.
Blending a fresh perspective, twenty-five years of experience, and a talent for inspiring audiences, Denise Lee Yohn is a leading authority on building and positioning exceptional brands.
Denise initially cultivated her brand-building approaches through several high-level positions in advertising and client-side marketing. She served as lead strategist at advertising agencies for Burger King and Land Rover and as the marketing leader and analyst for Jack in the Box restaurants and Spiegel catalogs. Denise went on to head Sony Electronics first-ever brand office, where she was the vice president/general manager of brand and strategy and garnered major corporate awards. She now serves as an advisor to brands including Frito-Lay, Oakley, and Jack In the Box.
An influential writer, Denise enjoys challenging readers to think differently about brand-building. She contributes the monthly column “Brand New Perspectives” to QSR Magazine and has published work in numerous outlets, including Harvard Business Review, Advertising Age, Forbes, and OPEN Forum. In 2008 she launched her blog, brand as business bites™, which the Marketing Executives Networking Group (MENG) named as one of the top 20 marketing blogs.
With her expertise and personal approach, Denise delivers an array of inspirational workshops, presentations, and keynote addresses to business leaders in all industries. When she's not writing or speaking, she serves as the brand director for TEDx San Diego and sits on the board of directors for a branch of the YMCA.
Outside of her professional roles, Denise counts hiking Mount Kilimanjaro, dancing with a professional ballet company, and flying a helicopter as some of her greatest life experiences.