“An organization bound by love is far more powerful than one bound by fear.”
My years of experience crafting brand strategies for both large corporations and small firms have convinced me of one principle above all others: brands are built from the inside out. The best brand strategies in the world will not succeed if there is not a culture – driven from the top – of creativity, authenticity, and humanity. Great cultures perform miracles, for both shareholders and customers.
As proof in point, I offer Herb Kelleher, founder of Southwest Airlines, who is justifiably credited with fostering one of the most emotionally intelligent and resilient companies in the airline industry. Sifting through my files many years ago in my office at the McCombs School of Business, I found the text of Kelleher’s commencement address delivered to the school’s BBA graduates in 2004, entitled “Fourteen Ways to Be a Leader.”
I quickly realized I had discovered a golden treasure of brand wisdom, and to my astonishment, I couldn’t find it published anywhere online. I contacted Kelleher (retired as CEO of Southwest at that point) and asked if the school could publish the notes as a ten-year commemoration in 2014. He graciously gave permission, with one requested change to point number four, which he had reconsidered since delivering the address.
Kelleher passed away this week. I’m pleased to publish his remarks one more time, in memory of a brand genius and a truly remarkable entrepreneur and business builder. Continue reading “How Kelleher Built the Southwest Brand from the Inside Out” →
Simple brand strategies often neglected by even the most earnest marketers.
Co-written by David Wenger and Dave Shaw in 2003. Still relevant today.
There are a thousand theories for how to strengthen your brand, and most of them have worked at one time for some company, or they wouldn’t have found their way into someone’s book on brand building.
But how much of what you read in the marketing press is really applicable to your industry, particularly if you are a technology or manufacturing company? Can the lessons learned from Starbucks brew success in the oil and gas equipment business, for example? The answer is both yes and no.
Over the years we’ve consulted with dozens of companies, such as JSR Micro, KLA-Tencor and Samsung Austin Semiconductor, that operate well beyond the “fun zone” of brand marketing. Our approach is based on integrated marketing—the principle that “everything communicates.” Continue reading “Six terribly boring ways to make your brand sizzle.” →
“We have a mission statement posted in the lobby, but who knows what our vision is now.”
Ernest Auerbach knows his way around the corporate world, including the carnage that often follows after a merger. As a corporate general manager with a global portfolio of senior positions from Xerox and CIGNA to New York Life and AIG, he has seen the ugly when, in his vivid words, “mergers trumpeted as made in heaven end up in hell.”
He warns that mergers sometimes fail because the hard work isn’t done after the announcement confetti is swept up and everyone files back to their office (or collects their severance check).
“Some mergers work well, but it takes good strategic work at the front end and excellent post-merger work afterward,” Auerbach says. Continue reading “What happens to your brand after a merger?” →
Marketers cannot assume that true costs will not be seen or considered in the purchasing decision.
What is the true cost of your company’s product? Behind the simple economic analysis of materials, labor, marketing, and distribution lurks the more complicated question of your brand’s social and environmental impact. Does your brand kill polar bears, and if so how does that fact impact your reputation?
Stephanie Jue, a business, government and society lecturer at McCombs School of Business, says cost economics is just the starting point for determining the societal impact of your product. Continue reading “Reputation alert – does your brand kill polar bears?” →
Organizations thrive when they learn to ask HOW before WHAT.
When I first joined the leadership team at a top-tier business school, eager to apply my skills as a graduate of the MBA program and a brand consultant in the corporate world, I discovered that our strategic goal was to become the best public business school in the United States.
It was a laudatory aspiration to be sure. Who could argue with it? However, I soon realized the plan was heavy on things we would DO to gain that goal, but very light on HOW we would do it. In an academic environment, with its fiefdoms and diversified management perspectives, this encouraged a focus on the productivity and results of our individual programs and departments, rather than the broader school or the university. Continue reading “Leading in higher education with emotional intelligence” →