Sunday, June 6, 2010

Another Test for Brand Strategy (2/6)

Roy Spence has written an insightful book -- It's Not What You Sell, It's What You Stand For -- that every organizational leader should read. It is probably the best business book I have read in the last five years and I read a lot. In this book, Spence discusses why every organization must articulate their purpose clearly if they are to achieve extraordinary success. Spence explains purpose as "a definitive statement about the difference you are trying to make in the world."

Purpose should drive every strategic and tactical decision. In fact, decision-making actually becomes much easier when the organizational purpose is clearly articulated and understood by management and employees. Spence's company, GSD&M Idea City, has helped build some of the world's most successful brands including Wal-Mart, Southwest Airlines, BMW, AARP, Charles Schwab, and John Deere to name a few. What the book does is tell you how GSD&M helped each of these organizations (and many others) determine their purpose.
Purpose: a definitive statement about the difference you are trying to make in the world.
There is a lot in this book beyond marketing. I enthusiastically recommend every leader (or those who want to lead) read this book because truly it is a book about leadership, first and foremost. But what Spence has to say about the value of being purpose-driven when it comes to building the brand and enhancing the brand experience is critical to where we are in our discussion and it will help you evaluate your brand strategy by considering Spence's steps to bringing your purpose to life in the marketplace.

1. Articulate your purpose so that you provide a clear and compelling statement about the difference your organization makes in the world.
2. Answer the question, What do we have that people want that the competition can't deliver? This is a key part of your positioning.
3. Get your employees to buy in so that your brand-building is inside-out and, thus, authentic.
4. Take another look at how your customers experience your brand. Can they understand your purpose when  they interact with your brand? You can't fix everything at once so prioritize and get the most important areas addressed first.
5. When time permits, have a good look at every customer experience. Is everything you are doing consistent with your purpose?

There is so much more to this book and I recommend you pick up a copy and dig in as soon as you can. For the purposes of our discussion on brand strategy, think about this: how is your organization changing your part of the world for the better?

If you can answer this question, you will have a brand strategy that can take your organization places that no ordinary business plan ever could.

More to come. Thanks for reading.

1 comment:

  1. Brad, sounds like I need to move this to the top of my already very large list. I just ordered Tom Paterson's book Deeper, Richer, Fuller. Any body who has used books selling for 300.00 on ebay probably deserves a read. Nonetheless I agree with your definition of purpose. It supports my comment I make at the opening of every strategic plan I facilitate, "There are no nuetral decisions. Every decision takes us closer or further away from our core purpose." Thanks for giving me some credibility.