brand leadership

Strong brands have strong leaders with strong personalities. This branded leadership will help organizations succeed because the audience will have confidence that the leaders will respond to their needs.

colonel sandersLeaders of the organization (at all levels) can influence brand perception. How they exercise that influence can have positive or negative effects.

But where does this leadership come from? There are three primary sources:

Shoppers trust Joe down at Joe’s Butcher Shop more than the corporate meat cutter behind the glass at the Mega-Low Mart. The product is similar in both instances. Why is there a major perception difference? It’s because shoppers perceive Joe as a guide, curator, and maybe even a friend. His personal integrity stands behind his product. The meat at the big box store is presented as a faceless commodity.

And the naysayers say…

“Well, okay, of course the small mom & pop business can do this stuff, right? That’s their strength. Major national brands can’t do it.”

Perhaps you’re reading this post on a product you picked up down at Steve’s Apple Store.

Steve Jobs was defined by Apple and Apple will always be defined by Steve Jobs (and Woz). Jobs’ personal credibility bled through to the brand. While he was infamously a hands-on micromanager in development and design, he didn’t personally sell iPhones, Macs, and the rest to consumers….Or did he?…You saw the personal connection between him, the brand, and consumers at when he unveiled a new Apple product when he was alive and you certainly saw it when he died.

You’ve seen this strong personal leadership that crossed the veil into the brand at several strong corporate entities. Tony Hsieh at Zappos. Richard Branson at Virgin. Herb Kelleher at SouthWest. Oprah at … Oprah. All individuals whose personal leadership made those brands great.

And the naysayers say…

“Well, okay, of course the founders of these companies made a huge impact on the corporate brand. But our founder is ____. (boring / evil / dead / etc) We can’t do it.”

No doubt Henry Ford, in his day, made as much or more of an influence on his company as any of the people I mentioned above. His influence on the Ford brand is finished. But with social media connections to people like Scott Monty (@ScottMonty), there is a personal leadership and connection to the brand. Through an effective social media strategy, consumers can talk “personally” to a brand and feel a one-on-one connection that is similar to Joe down at the butcher shop.

Another point to remember is that brand leadership happens at every level of the organization. The barista that you interact with every morning who knows your name and you know theirs is more of the face of Starbucks to you than Howard Schultz is. Develop a corporate culture that helps the people who are ambassadors of your brand (employees, volunteers, other customers, and more) show brand leadership.

People want to interact with personalities, not corporations. No matter where the leadership for that personality comes from, organizations will benefit from it whether it be from an employee empowered corporate culture, an interactive social media presence, or a visible dynamic founder.

monday morning quarterbacks

We’re in the 24-hour period when everyone in America is an ad critic, but it’s not as great this year. As I tweeted during the “big game”:

I’m not going to get into critiques of the individual ads. In general, I agree with the ad critiques of most of the major critics with three exceptions: I liked Kia’s “Sandman” and I disliked Chrysler’s “Halftime in America” and the Coke polar bears.

But here are some larger points about the biggest night of the year for advertising:

1) Out of a little over 50 total ads, around 38 ads were released BEFORE the game. This ruins the Super Bowl advertising experience. While it does create a little pre-game buzz for some advertisers, it ensures that your ad will be seen by consumers as a ‘rerun’ during the game and an excuse to go get another spoonful of guacamole.

2) The main problem with many Super Bowl ads (and a lot of advertising in general) is that the agency and the client forget what advertising is meant to do. There needs to be a call-to-action. You must raise awareness of your brand. At some point, the ad needs to make someone come to you and give you money in exchange for goods/services. Prime example last night was the kid peeing in the pool. Clever ad. What was the ad for? Some people might remember tax prep, but what kind of tax prep?

3) Sure seems to be a lot of excitement over TV ads. Traditional media is not dead. It’s just transformed.

4) I beg one thing from the creative teams who will work on concepts for next year’s ads. Don’t try to make a “great Super Bowl ad”. Instead, try to create a “great ad” and it will shine in any media placement. We’re sick of monkeys, celebrities, talking babies, and the like. Super Bowl ads have become clichés. Don’t be a cliché.

prognosticators

groundhog dayIt’s Groundhog Day! The day that we look to a rodent to come out of a dark hole to tell us the weather forecast.

While it’s good fodder to fill up the morning zeitgeist every February 2, it’s temporal. People get a chuckle and go on living their lives of quiet desparation.

But why chuckle at the groundhog news story and then bite on the next one?

IRL and online networks are packed with pundits and prognosticators 365 days a year.

What will be the hot ad in the Super Bowl the ‘big’ game™ this Sunday? Who will win the actual game? Who will win the next election? What’s the best bet on your stock IPO?

These prophets and soothsayers appear as experts in their fields offering their own predictions of events. They backing those ideas with forecast models, statistics, and expertise. In reality, they’re all just looking at their own shadow and making their best guess.

why this year’s super bowl will stink for advertising lovers

First, a statistical tweet from the Managing Editor of Advertising Age, Ken Wheaton

…which leads to a simple thought from me:
If you open all your presents the week before Christmas, what are you going to do on Christmas morning?