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Find Your Rapid-Growth Purpose Category – Key To Successful Brand Positioning

NOTE: This blog post is reprinted from December, 2016. Reading recommendations below and in sidebar are new.

In his incredibly valuable book, Grow, ex-Procter & Gamble Global CMO, Jim Stengel, identified the 50 fastest-growing companies worldwide – now, known as the Stengel 50 – and sleuthed out the one characteristic they all held in common, the one thing that explained their phenomenal growth. After a decade-long study, he found these businesses crossed all sectors and industries, originated from many continents and countries, subscribed to all manner of management philosophies, sourcing, hiring, manufacturing and distribution practices. In the end, he determined they shared only one trait – they all rooted their company values in what Stengel calls the “Five Fields of Fundamental Human Values.” That is, all 50 of these businesses declare, as their originating purpose, a dedication to one of five categories of values. Stengel purists may object, but we’ve found it helpful to simplify the assertion. Let’s just say every business has a purpose and there are five categories of purpose that can be associated with rapid growth. So the question then becomes, can your brand be positioned in a way that aligns with one of these five rapid-growth purpose categories?

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Topics: Positioning

How To Calculate Return On Brand Promise

Return on investment. Buy low, sell high! We all know the basic objective of business. Cover your costs, earn a profit and generate wealth. And repeat. It sounds so simple and yet thousands of businesses flounder and die every year. How do businesses fail? There are too many ways to count. But some fail because they focus solely on making money and forget they exist to serve a purpose – a purpose to the market. Some forget, or never realized in the first place, that they have a brand promise to keep. The market expects them to deliver on it and, if they don’t, the market will not reward them with repeat business. That’s a recipe for tepid sales or, at worst, a going-out-of-business sale. But how does a business, even one that has formalized its brand strategy, know when it’s staying on-brand? How can it keep from drifting into territories that will dilute its relationship with the market? With the ROI/ROBP grid. That’s how.

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Topics: Strategy

Why Business People Are So Skeptical About Branding

Just a buzzword. A fad. Blue sky. Unmeasurable. Unnecessary. Many, perhaps most, leaders of small- and middle-market businesses are quick to dismiss branding as a waste of resources … or worse. I accept the blame for this state of affairs. Well, maybe not full blame. But I am among the many professionals who write and speak publicly about branding. I’ve been called – and I shudder to utter these words – a branding expert. (I’m always mindful of Harry Truman’s definition of an expert: Someone who can’t ever be wrong because, if he ever is, then he ain’t an expert any more.) But I do write and speak about branding. And so do trademark attorneys, public relations professionals, graphic designers, ad men, inbound marketers, social media marketers, business coaches and countless others. And English being the mutable language it is, we all use the terms brand and branding in slightly different ways. What is a business person to think when even we so-called experts can’t agree on a definition of the thing we’re supposed to be experts on?

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Topics: Innovation

An Imperfect Metaphor For Branding, Marketing And Sales

Regular Brandtalk readers know that I sometimes refer to something I call the Branding-Marketing-Sales Continuum. These are three disciplines that operate one after the other, resulting, finally, in a sale. Because, at the end of the day, someone has to sell something to someone. That’s what commerce is all about. The delivery of a good or service in exchange for legal tender. It starts with branding, which leads into marketing, which leads into sales. You can imagine the flow going from left to right, terminating with a sale at the far right end of the line. These are three distinct disciplines that have somewhat fuzzy borders. Here at Boardwalk, we’ve never seen a branding project that didn’t end up with us doing a little bit of marketing too. And everybody knows how porous the boundary between marketing and sales is. When I speak to groups about this, I can tell people understand me but I never quite feel they’re really getting it. So I’ve been searching for a good metaphor that people would really feel. And here on Veterans’s Day, I think I’ve found one. It’s imperfect, to be sure, and a little more militaristic than I’d like. But I guess I’m just thinking about our fighting men and women. With respect, I’d like to share it with you. It sprang from a discussion about how the US flag is displayed on our soldiers’ uniforms.

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Topics: communication

How Corporate Culture Influences Brand Identity

You’ve heard all the horror stories. Company A merges with Company B and, right off the bat, there’s trouble. The corporate culture at the two companies just don’t mesh. Company A tends towards formality. The men all wear ties. Things are done according to well-documented procedures. There’s a precise organizational chart with very specific titles. Everyone is accountable to someone else. At Company B, every day is casual Friday. No ties. No job titles. No set procedures for getting things done and reporting to management. Everybody just wings it. The two cultures just can’t get along. Even if some at Company A would like to loosen up a bit. Even if some at Company B feel a little more discipline would not be a bad thing. The cultures are just too entrenched to change. Nobody’s expectations are being met. And that leads to disruption and frustration. But, while everybody is dealing with the internal warfare, who’s looking at the new firm’s customers? It’s likely their expectations are not being met either and that can cause severe damage to the new company’s brand.

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