Archive for Marketing – Page 2

Think You’ve Got Your Marketing Ducks in a Row?

Marketing Ducks

Lessons in Branding Across Industries

If you were close to my place at Christmas, you would have heard a big whoop of joy as I learned Cracker Barrel was pulling Duck Dynasty items from its shelves—not because of the backlash from Phil Robertson’s anti-gay and racially charged comments. I was elated because Cracker Barrel said the comments were incongruent with company values. What a terrific display of a company living its brand. “We operate within the ideals of fairness, mutual respect and equal treatment of all people. These ideals are the core of our corporate culture.”

Their values and ideals were not just words on a page but the barometer for all business decisions. That’s how an organization needs to operate to authentically live its brand. Imagine my disappointment when the 625-location chain announced one day later they were keeping the merchandise because of customer outcry. They lost my business on principle. They weren’t true to their brand—how could I trust them to be true to me?

Defining your organization’s brand—the sum parts of its values, vision and passion—is critical for your organization to do its work with integrity. And what’s an organization without integrity?

Defining your brand enables your organization to do business in a way that is congruent with expectations—yours and your customer’s. A well-defined brand enables your organization to authentically present itself to the world and your clients.

You don’t hire an ad agency to “make up” your brand; you unearth it. It’s what you are made of—your DNA. Once you’ve defined your brand, you can put words, colors, fonts, logos, photos and text to it. That’s where most organizations stop. To have a successful brand, you need to take the next step: live it.

How does one live their organization’s brand? First, base every business decision on the brand values, vision and purpose. Cracker Barrel had good intentions but then caved in to financial pressures. Fortunately, most brands aren’t tested in the wake of public scandal. Most brands quietly serve their company values, vision and purpose.

It’s easy to live your brand when you’re a Mom and Pop business because you are your brand. As organizations grow, defining and living one’s brand must become intentional.

Culture guru and Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh learned this the hard way. While building his former company, LinkExchange, he and his coworkers were on top of the world. They were having a ball at work—every day. Yet as the company grew, Hsieh wasn’t hiring people with the same values, vision and passion. The brand and experience of work was compromised. After selling to Microsoft for $265 million, he vowed to stop chasing money and start chasing passion—which is where the über-successful Zappos comes in. Zappos operates within its company values. Sometimes that means making decisions that aren’t money-making. For example, Hsieh moved the company’s headquarters to Las Vegas and invested more than $300 million of his own money to revitalize downtown—in keeping with the value of “Embrace and drive change.”

What if you aren’t a billionaire with a multibillion-dollar company? Can you still define and live an authentic brand? YES. It happens in every industry in every region. Organizations are catching on to the benefits—both intrinsic and financial—of standing firm in vision, values and purpose.

Salt Lake City architectural firm CRSA’s mission is to create “designs that enrich lives and create community.” Principal Fran Pruyn says, “We attempt to create a culture of great people, great places, great practice. This means we have a firm culture that enriches lives and creates community.”

Centerville, Utah’s Ascent Construction considers its brand the external perception of its internal culture. Cynthia Remine of business development says, “Our brand has evolved in the past few years to a more relationship-based culture and is less financially focused. We learned that if you focus on the core aspects of building better relationships, financial success naturally follows, as does a more fulfilled and balanced personal and professional life.”

I’d call this is the gold standard for professional services firms. Nothing fancy, outrageous, or difficult—but clearly not the norm.

What makes your organization’s brand unique? How do you embody it? Encourage your team to live it? Contact me at 541.601.0114 or chris@capiche.us. I’m collecting examples of brands in action. Tell me about yours.

How to Live the Brand—and Play to Your Strengths

Walking on the Beach

Say your company just invested a hefty amount of time and resources in a process to clarify its brand and claim its position in the market. Now that you’ve codified your brand, including your signature strengths, how do you help employees embody those principles on a daily basis? What are you doing to develop and promote your organization’s and your employees’ strengths?

Living the Brand

Walking the TalkIt’s not as hard as it sounds. Here are four ways your company can help people walk the talk.

1) The Interview. It all starts here. Zappos employees don’t need to be told how to live the brand—they do it naturally. As CEO Tony Hsieh explains in Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose, the company’s core values drive the interview process, and Zappos hires individuals who are inherently passionate about those values.

2) Conversations. Create a culture that encourages employees to discuss the company’s values. When your mission guides strategic decisions, when employees measure their actions against the company’s brand and when everyday conversations organically reflect the organizational values, you know your employees both understand and practice those values.

3) Peer-to-Peer Training. Let staff—not managers—take the lead when it comes to values training. When new and current employees learn about the company’s core principles from their peers, this dynamic gives the trainees a living example to follow while the trainers deepen their own awareness of the company’s values.

Walking the Talk4) Business Tools. The mission, vision, and values shouldn’t be an awkward uniform your employees don when they enter the building and drop in the foyer on their way out. In Delivering Happiness, employees talk about how Zappos’ first Core  Value—Deliver WOW Through Service—has affected the way they live their entire lives. They consistently make the extra effort to create moments of wow, whether it be on the phone helping a customer or relating to a fellow shopper at the grocery store.

Nurturing Individual Strengths

Two years ago when I launched Capiche, I wanted to create a company that was committed not only to educating but also transforming organizations. Armed with science of happiness research, best business practices, and positive psychology principles, I set out to help companies “understand and develop the capital within.”

Too many organizations treat their employees as if they’re expendable, interchangeable parts. If employees disengage, management issues pink slips and orders a fresh batch of replacements. When the reinforcements wear out, the cycle repeats. Rarely do such companies stop to examine why they are failing to engage their employees.

In a recent Gallup poll conducted at 14 different companies, the 105,000 employees surveyed only mildly agreed—3.87 on a scale of strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (5)—that their company was nurturing their strengths.

If you want to help employees connect with your company’s brand and signature strengths, you need to identify and nurture their strengths.

Clifton StrengthsFinder is a fantastic tool for this discovery process. It can be an illuminating and fun experience for the employees and will help you see how each person’s strengths can best benefit the company.

Know Your Coworkers

Once you’ve discovered your employees’ talents, the next step is ensuring peers understand and rely on each other’s strengths.

This happens less often than you might realize. When Gallup asked 8,900 employees how strongly they agreed with the statement that they could name the strengths of five coworkers, the mean score was only 3.78 out of a possible 5.

Effective collaboration requires that team members know their coworkers’ strengths. A smaller group of employees chosen based on complimentary strengths can achieve far more than a large, haphazardly composed team. When tasks are divvied up according to individual talents, you’ll see that efficiency, passion and productivity skyrocket.

Coming Full Circle

So yes, brand is important, and clarifying your company’s core values, mission, and vision is a critical step toward building a successful brand, but all of those pretty words mean nothing if your employees don’t resonate with them and incorporate them into their day-to-day routines.

Similarly, identifying your company’s unique strengths should be followed up with an effective strategy for understanding and developing strengths within your employees. When you harness the talents of individuals for the expression of your company’s signature strengths, together you will become a formidable creative force.

Helping organizations harness this creative force is Capiche’s passion. Call Chris at 541.601.0114 or email chris@capiche.us if you’re ready to put this force to work for your organization.

The Cinderella Fit: 5 Steps to a Better Brand

Brown Men's Shoe

Adopting a new brand shouldn’t make you feel like an ugly stepsister squishing her foot into a tiny glass slipper. Rather, you’re looking for that Cinderella fit, a thoughtful melding of truth and optimism that empowers your company to grow into its deeper self. The shoe fits, but your toes still have room to wiggle.

A few months ago, I wrote a post called Creating Your Brand from the Inside Out: Why Your Culture Comes First, which was later published in the January 2013 issue of Utah Construction & Design. In that piece, I discussed the inextricable relationship between culture and brand.

Your brand should reflect your organization’s unique genetic identity with a spritz of aspiration. You want your company to recognize itself in the mirror, but maybe looking a tad dapperly, so it straightens its posture, brushes the lint off its shoulder, and strides toward the future with vision and confidence.

How do you achieve that magical fit? As a brand development consultant, I would take these five steps to discover and unleash your organization’s brand.

1) Formulate guiding questions to illuminate core issues. Don’t think of these as literal questions posed in a survey or focus group but instead view them as headings in your final report. Some examples include:

  • What is your current brand image/reputation among target audiences and stakeholders?
  • What positive and negative associations are attached to the organization?
  • What are the major brand associations of your competitors?
  • How is your company different and better?
  • What should you strive to be?
  • What tactical brand differentiation and marketing opportunities exist?

2) Thoroughly examine the facts through a qualitative discovery process. Get an honest view of your firm’s reality by conducting a competitive analysis, quantitative data assessment, and communications audit as well as gaining an understanding of the company’s history.

3) Involve all members of the organization. Establishing a transparent, comprehensive process in which every employee feels heard is not only vital for buy-in but also ensures the brand truly reflects the company’s culture. Participants will be more invested in the process and committed to maintaining its outcomes.

4) Develop a distinctive set of “brand tools.” A brand messaging platform will focus and guide marketing and organizational decisions. It includes a positioning statement, key messages, and brand attributes. The positioning statement reflects the institutional DNA and is so unique to the organization that it cannot be applied to any other company. The key messages articulate the firm’s purpose and direction, while brand attributes comprise a list of adjectives that describe the company’s character.

Branding Sweet Spot5) Bring the brand to life. Through a targeted creative process, design a visual identity that captures the company’s personality and develop a marketing strategy that is built around your company’s “sweet spot”—the intersection of what’s important to clients, what you do very well, and what your competition is not doing. Most importantly, help your employees understand and “live” the brand in everything they do—from answering the phone to delivering a presentation to hiring a new associate. The more deeply your brand is interwoven with your culture, the easier that glass slipper will glide on—and stay.

Are you ready to uncover your unique brand? Contact me at 541.601.0114 or chris@capiche.us to find out how Capiche can help your organization crack its genetic code and chart its course for future success.

Creating Your Brand from the Inside Out: Why Your Culture Comes First

Mindmap and Office Employees

Your culture is your brand; your brand is your culture. The two are one and the same—inextricably intertwined. It’s where marketing, positive psychology and innovative business practices intersect. And it’s the common denominator in successful companies. Virgin Atlantic, Apple, Google, Harley Davidson, BMW and Autodesk all have strong brands and strong cultures, and all are wildly successful. I’ll bet you can name one or more in your industry.

Anyone who has been through a branding process knows the hardest part of branding isn’t coming up with a logo or tagline. It’s getting to your company’s DNA (what is at its heart)—its values, vision, passion and purpose. That’s your culture. When you get to that, you can create your brand.

Before you embark on a branding campaign, take a reality check. Have you uncovered your company’s DNA? Defined its culture? It’s values, vision, passion and purpose? Is it real, honest and yet still a little aspirational? Your brand must be rooted in reality with room to reach toward the future. Clearly defining your company culture is your first step in building a brand.

Your brand comes alive visually with words and graphics. Your marketing team can create stunning ad campaigns, proposals, brochures and websites that reflect your brand. That’s the easy part. The hard part is LIVING the brand. Creating and embodying your unique company culture. It’s how you answer the phone. It’s how you interact with others on the team and everyone who comes in contact with your company. It’s who you hire. And it’s how you bring them on board. It’s what you base EVERY business decision on.

Building the culture/brand really is everybody’s business, and companies that understand that have a real advantage. That’s why it’s important to engage your employees in your branding process—asking them to help define your values, vision, passion and purpose. Getting their input and buy-in is critical to the success of your brand. You all need to get behind the same values, vision, passion and purpose. It’s critical to a cohesive, productive and engaging workplace.

You will also be asking all your constituents to weigh in on what defines your company DNA. This means clients, subcontractors, other design team members, and influencers. Asking and listening to your constituents (and employees) is a natural way to build trust and take your relationship to the next level. This is marketing and management brilliance.

One company that has successfully built its brand from the inside out is Zappos—the $2 billion/year shoe and apparel company known around the world for its success in creating a company culture that spawns success at every level, from employee happiness to customer happiness to shareholder happiness. What makes Zappos different is that is has built its culture around employee happiness. Zappos credits its happiness framework for its success. The framework consists of perceived control, perceived progress, connectedness and vision/meaning.

Good to Great and Tribal Leadership Book CoversThe realization that happy workers drive business success is sweeping the world, and the research keeps growing. Researchers at Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, University of California at Riverside and Oxford University are leading the pack. Bestselling management books Good to Great and Tribal Leadership credit a shared company vision and purpose. A company with a vision has a higher purpose beyond just money, profits or being number one in a market, and this important element separates sustainable profitable companies from the rest.

Are you seeing a connection? The “great” companies build their brands around their values, vision, passion and purpose, which guide the company’s culture. The two are inextricably intertwined.

When your people are living your brand, their personal values are in synch with the company’s. They are happier and more productive—and they are your best ambassadors. Involve them from the start, get clear on values, vision, passion and purpose, walk the talk, and enjoy your success!

If you are ready to get going on your company culture and brand, give me a call at 541.601.0114 or email me at chris@capiche.us. Let me help you uncover your own unique culture and brand to propel your organization forward. And let’s have a great time doing so!