Wednesday, January 15, 2020

2019 Was the Year of #REBRANDING

Was your brand in the news during 2019? If not, don’t despair. There were many other brands that made headlines during 2019. 

Here’s a recap of 15 brands that either rebranded, changed their logo, or changed their name during 2019.

*MasterCard dropped its name from its logo and became a wordless logo like Apple and Target. (January)

*Dunkin’ unveiled new packaging. (January)

*ComedyCentral unveiled a new logo. (January)

*Slack unveiled a new logo. (January)

*Hickory Farms unveiled its rebrand with a new logo, website, and packaging. According to CEO Diane Pearse, “At Hickory Farms, we’re in the business of connecting people. We aspire to make food gifting effortless because we know that making connections through food is a meaningful intersection in our busy, fast-paced lives. 2019 marks an important year for Hickory Farms as our brand evolves with a modern look and feel that appeals to a broader audience with choices for every occasion.” (January)

*Pizza Hut changed its name to “Pizza Hut Hut” with signage and a pop-up store in Atlanta to celebrate its sponsorship of Super Bowl 53. (February)

*Stratosphere Hotel in Las Vegas changed its name to The Strat. (February)

*Marriott International announced a new logo for Sheraton. (March)

*Mars rebranded with a new logo and tagline: Tomorrow starts today. (March)

*IKEA launched a new logo as part of its move toward digital sales. (April)

*Sears launched a new tagline and logo to create a new image in the wake of negative publicity surrounding its bankruptcy filing and wave of store closings. (May)

*Several brands changed their logos to recognize pride month: IBM, American Airlines, US Weekly, New York Public Library, The Gap, Levi’s, Banana Republic. (June)

*Jamba Juice changed its name and logo to Jamba to reflect its emphasis on its expanded product line and wellness, not just juice. (June)

*Mimi’s Cafe changed its name to Mimi’s Bistro & Bakery. According to Tiffany McClain, the chain’s director of marketing, “We spent two years researching where we’ve been and what we could do to strengthen the brand in the future and strengthen our connection to France...Adding “bistro” to the chain’s name reflects a French feel, with a nod toward relaxation, while “bakery” emphasizes the restaurant’s grab-and-go offerings.” (July)

*Yahoo rebranded with a new logo. (September)

*Wharton Digital Press changed its name to Wharton School Press to better emphasize the book publishing arm of the Wharton School. According to Dean Geoffrey Garrett, “We’re very excited about this new direction, which emphasizes the school’s continued commitment to publishing important books.” (October)

With all these changes, one wonders if brands that don’t make changes have staying power. Do logos need to be refreshed every so often? Do brand names need to change every so often? How do these changes impact brand equity and customer recognition? These are important questions to consider before making any strategic branding changes.

What brand change stood out to you during 2019? Please chime in.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Top 10 Marketing Highlights of 2019

With 2019 now history, it's time for my annual “Top 10” marketing highlights post – incredible that this is my 10th post featuring annual marketing highlights. 

What do you remember from the 2019 marketing reel? Which were duds? What stood out as marketing innovation, and what will go down in history that was as memorable as Apple’s 1984 Super Bowl ad? Without further ado, let’s get to it! What campaigns were great?

With a nod and thank you to David Letterman for the format, here's my list:

NUMBER 10: 

In April, Budweiser unveiled a “Jackie Robinson” bottle to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the baseball legend’s birth and used the hashtag #ThisBudsForJackie in its promotions.

NUMBER 9:  

In April, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex launched an Instagram account as their sole social media channel. According to their first post, “Welcome to our official Instagram; we look forward to sharing the work that drives us, the causes we support, important announcements, and the opportunity to shine a light on key issues.” The first post was liked by nearly 1.3 million viewers; and the account has attracted nearly 10 million followers.

NUMBER 8: 

In May, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex introduced the world to their first child, a son named Archie Harrison, the seventh in line to the British Throne. Imagine all the items with his name and likeness on sale in Britain!

NUMBER 7: 

The Walt Disney Company partnered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to raise money due to the release of its Aladdin movie and granting of wishes in the film, released in May.

NUMBER 6: 

For a limited time, Taco Bell opened a hotel and resort in Palm Springs, California. At “The Bell,” guests could buy Taco Bell-themed apparel and plan Taco Bell-themed weddings.

NUMBER 5: 

In a press release by Oreo, the cookie brand confirmed that limited-edition Marshmallow Moon Oreos would hit store shelves in honor of the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo lunar landing. Each pack of Marshmallow Moon Oreos featured three custom cookie designs inspired by the moon landing, including an astronaut floating in zero gravity, a rocket ship blasting off, and a crescent moon next to three stars. The best part? The cookie packaging actually glowed in the dark!

NUMBER 4: 

CBS Evening News introduced its new anchor, Norah O’Donnell, on July 15, with both a new logo and new introductory music. O'Donnell explained that her evening broadcasts would place an emphasis on fair and unbiased news combined with a focus on the 2020 presidential election. In Fall 2019, her studio moved from New York to Washington, D.C.

NUMBER 3: 

Frontier Airlines was proud to be America's greenest airline dedicated to #sustainability, and on August 13, anyone with the surname Green or Greene could fly free.

NUMBER 2: 

Mattel, the company that created Barbie, introduced a line of gender-neutral dolls called Creatable World. “The doll can be a boy, a girl, neither or both, and Mattel, which calls this the world’s first gender-neutral doll, is hoping its launch on September 25 redefines who gets to play with a toy traditionally deemed taboo for half the world’s kids,” according to TIME magazine.

And NUMBER 1 on my 2019 Marketing Highlights List:

Drum roll please...

A sign of the times: Starbucks announced in July that it would stop selling newspapers - and remove newspaper racks - at its coffee shops in Fall 2019. The company began selling The New York Times in stores nearly 20 years ago and added The Wall Street Journal and USA Today in 2010. Following the announcement, Starbucks offered digital access through its free in-store Wi-Fi at all company-operated locations in the U.S. for a limited time for the following pubs: The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Seattle Times, Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, Orlando Sentinel, and New York Daily News. 


In a post on Starbucks' Blog: “This is just the beginning. We will continue to listen and learn from our customers, looking for new opportunities to deliver news, content and experiences that are relevant to our customers, inspiring to our partners and meaningful to our communities.”

What would you add to this list? Here's to 2020 and another year of marketing highlights. Happy New Year!


Image Credit: BigStock photo.

Monday, December 16, 2019

What Are Your Favorite New Year's Brands?

The December holidays are within view, and this means that the new year is on the horizon ripe with resolutions and exciting opportunities.

When you think of New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, there are many brands that come to mind. Which brands are your faves? Here are five of mine.

DOM P
ÉRIGNON
Many of us drink in the new year with champagne, and while a bottle may cost several hundred dollars - and the most costly bottle has been known to cost $42,000 - Dom Pérignon is the world's most well-known champagne.

For some interesting facts about Dom Pérignon, visit: https://vinepair.com/articles/14-facts-dom-perignon-champagne.

CITY OF NEW YORK

Every year on the final day of the year, everyone's attention is on the city known as "The Big Apple." New York City has hosted a memorable New Year's Eve party every year since 1907, with the exception of 1942 and 1943. Hundreds of thousands flock to Times Square to watch a truly brilliant event: the crystal ball drop as the final seconds of the year tick away toward midnight, ushering in a new year. According to the Times Square website: "Thanks to satellite technology, a worldwide audience estimated at over one billion people watch the ceremony each year. The lowering of the Ball has become the world's symbolic welcome to the New Year."

WATERFORD
The famous ball drop at New York City's Times Square is comprised of 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles that vary in size. According to the Times Square website: "For Times Square 2020, 192 Waterford Crystal triangles introduce the new Gift of Goodwill design of three pineapples signifying the traditional image of hospitality and goodwill. 192 are the Gift of Harmony design of small rosette cuts flowing into each other in beautiful harmony. 192 are the Gift of Serenity design of butterflies flying peacefully above a crystal meadow capturing the spirit of serenity. 192 are the Gift of Kindness design consisting of a circle of rosettes symbolizing unity with the fronds reaching out in an expression of kindness. 192 are the Gift Of Wonder design composed by a faceted starburst inspiring our sense of wonder. 192 are the Gift of Fortitude design of diamond cuts on either side of a crystal pillar to represent the inner attributes of resolve, courage and spirit necessary to triumph over adversity. The remaining 1,728 triangles are the Gift of Imagination design with a series of intricate wedge cuts that are mirrored reflections of each other inspiring our imagination."

For a myriad of fun facts about the history of the Times Square Ball, visit: https://www.timessquarenyc.org/times-square-new-years-eve/nye-history-times-square-ball.

CITY OF PASADENA
After the world's attention leaves New York City on December 31st, it turns to America's west coast, specifically a Southern California suburb of Los Angeles. Home to approximately 140,000, Pasadena's population swells to the hundreds of thousands, possibly even a million, each year on January 1st. The city's main street is Colorado Boulevard, and that is where the action begins around 8am every January 1st.

ROSE PARADE

The attraction on New Year's Day in Pasadena, California, is the annual Rose Parade, hosted by the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association. According to Wikipedia, "First held on January 1, 1890, hundreds of thousands of spectators watch the Rose Parade in person, and millions more watch it on television - both in the U.S. and in more than 100 international territories and countries worldwide. The Rose Bowl college football game was added in 1902 to help fund the cost of staging the parade. Since 2011, Honda sponsors the Rose Parade. Accordingly, the company has the parade's first float, which like all floats, follows the parade's theme."

During 2020, we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. With this in mind, here are some women's and girls' equality brands:
* League of Women Voters
* National Women's History Museum
* National Organization for Women (NOW)
* Equality Now
* She Should Run
* UN Women
* Gender at Work 
* Women's Foundation of California
* Step Up
* American Civil Liberties Union

What new year's brands stand out to you as you get ready to begin 2020?


Image Credit: Dom P
érignon, City of New York, Waterford, Rose Parade, and City of Pasadena via Layout app.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

What's Your Favorite Holiday Brand?

With the holiday season well underway, what brands stand out? What brands use clever words or spokespeople for unique holiday marketing or advertising campaigns? What brands do you embrace every December? What brands symbolize a happy and healthy holiday season?

There are some brands that announce holiday time to me, and I'd like to share five of them.

[1] COCA-COLA
One of the world's most iconic brands features special spokespeople, or in this case, spokes-bears during the holidays. Polar bears and their friends appear and always create heartwarming smiles.

[2] M&M'S
A chocolate favorite throughout the year, M&M's features red and green candy especially for the Christmas holiday.

[3] TIFFANY & CO
Tiffany & Company has long been synonymous with diamond rings that come in little blue boxes. But during the holiday season, the best holiday traditions arrive in little blue boxes.

[4] MATTEL
This toy brand unveils an annual "Holiday Barbie." According to the Barbie website, "For decades, the Holiday Barbie doll has embodied the spirit of a season marked by wonder and celebration. 2019 Holiday Barbie doll shines in an elegant gown with red and white holiday print and silvery sparkle detail. A beautiful bow adorns the gown’s shoulder and complements a dramatic red train. ‘Tis the season to smile wider, hug your loved ones a little tighter and savor that magical holiday spirit. Reflecting the sparkle and jubilation of holiday festivities, 2019 Holiday Barbie doll is the definitive celebration of a season full of love."

[5] HONDA
When you wish someone happy holidays, if you work for Honda, the phrase becomes "Happy Honda Days." This catchy phrase has been in our advertising lingo for many years, and it represents car sales at Honda dealerships from November through early January each year.

What about you? What brands stand out in a very crowded marketplace, especially during the holidays? I posit that the holidays present an exciting opportunity to stand far apart from the competition and win customers not just during the holiday season but all year long.



Image Credit: Layout app featuring Mattel, Honda, Tiffany & Co., M&M's, and Coca-Cola.

Monday, November 18, 2019

What’s Your Favorite Thanksgiving Brand?

When you think of Thanksgiving, there are many brands that come to mind from the foods we eat to the activities before and after the large meal. But what brands are your favorites? Here are five of mine.

MACY’S THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE
Whether you live in New York City or anywhere else, there is a particular parade that, since 1924, has become a family ritual to watch in person or on television. The three-hour parade is held from 9am to 12noon Eastern time on Thanksgiving Day, and it has been televised nationally on NBC since 1952. A unique aspect of working at Macy’s is that Macy
s employees have the option of marching in the parade. Would you march? (There is a website dedicated to the parade at https://www.macys.com/social/parade.)
 

BUTTERBALL TURKEY
Have you ever tried to cook a 15-pound or 25-pound turkey and run into trouble? Have no fear, if the turkey is a Butterball. This brand has a help center called the Turkey Talk Line. This help center began in 1981 when six home economists worked the phones that holiday season to answer 11,000 turkey-cooking questions. Since then, the Turkey Talk Line has grown in both the number of calls answered and the number of experts who respond. The Turkey Talk Line is open November and December each year and is staffed with 50 experts who answer more than 100,000 questions, for thousands of households in the United States and Canada. And in today’s social era, cooks can connect with the Turkey Talk Line via social media, live chat, texting, and even Amazon Alexa.

BEST BUY
One of the most-well known technology stores has become synonymous with Thanksgiving due to its array of deals. Many people choose to miss their Thanksgiving meal in order to line up to be first in line (or second or third) to enter the store. Best Buy opens its doors at 5pm on Thanksgiving Day to accommodate shoppers who want to get a great deal on a big screen TV or other tech gadgets at ridiculously low prices.

FOOD NETWORK
Some people test their cooking skills during Thanksgiving meal preparations. This is why the Food Network comes in handy. Many shows feature specific Thanksgiving recipes, and many chefs who have their own programs focus on the annual holiday. Here’s just one example from the myriad of Thanksgiving promotions on the channel’s website:

“Is the thought of cooking Thanksgiving dinner stressing you out? Don’t worry. Food Network is here to help! The cast of #TheKitchen including Sunny Anderson, Alex Guarnaschelli, Katie Lee, Jeff Mauro and Geoffrey Zakarian, will be joined by special guest Alton Brown to answer your cooking questions LIVE in a totally-interactive #ThanksgivingLive TV special! Tune in on Saturday, November 23, from 11 am-1 pm EST and get ready for expert advice, time-saving tips, and our favorite tried-and-tested Thanksgiving recipes!”

RECREATION EQUIPMENT INC. (REI)

According to REI’s website, “For the fifth time this Black Friday, REI Co-op will close all its stores, process no online payments, and pay all 13,000 employees to #OptOutside with friends and family. But this year, under the leadership of a new CEO and facing a global environmental crisis, the co-op is going a step further: asking its 13,000 employees and 18 million members to join in the fight for life outdoors – and life on this planet. The co-op is asking members and employees to “opt to act” – joining a nationwide clean-up effort this November, leaving the outdoors better than they found it when they #OptOutside on Black Friday and signing up for an employee-sourced, 52-week action plan to take small steps throughout the year to reduce their environmental footprint.”

What brands stand out to you on Thanksgiving? Or, are you too tired from your turkey meal to pay attention to advertising?


Image Credit: Macy’s.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Fall Back to Reading with 12 Thought-Provoking Business Books

Those of us who have a passion for reading begin the summer with a large pile of books that we hope to read. As often happens though, events intervene, and the pile of books seems just as high at the end of the summer as it was at the beginning. However, this past summer, I read a dozen business books containing memorable insights about leadership, marketing, and customer experiences, and I highly recommend that you add them to your fall or winter reading list. A suggested Tweet for each book is included at the end of each review, and Twitter handles for all authors and referenced links are provided at the end of the post.

HOW TO CREATE CUSTOMERS FOR LIFE by Bolivar J. Bueno
This book introduced the concept of “cult brands.” After defining a brand as a co-authored experience, a mutual relationship that lives between the customer and a brand, Bueno explained that a business does not control its brand. While you may control what your brand does, how your brand is perceived is entirely up to your customers. He explained that “Apple is the embodiment of a cult brand, a company that commands fanatical loyalty from its customers.” An example is when Apple fans line up for hours, sometimes even days, to purchase new versions of the iPhone before ever seeing or using one. Other examples of cult brands include Harley-Davidson, Southwest Airlines, and IKEA – based on the relationships they have forged with their customers. 

Bueno identified seven golden rules of cult brands:
(1) The Golden Rule of Differentiation = Consumers want to be part of a group that’s different
(2) The Golden Rule of Courage = Cult brand inventors show daring and determination
(3) The Golden Rule of Fun = Cult brands sell lifestyles
(4) The Golden Rule of Listening = Listen to the choir and create cult brand evangelists (value their opinions)
(5) The Golden Rule of the Tribal Imperative = Cult brands always create customer communities
(6) The Golden Rule of Openness = Cult brands are inclusive
(7) The Golden Rule of Freedom = Cult brands promote personal freedom and draw power from their enemies

TWEET THIS: Successful brands add value to the customer experience across all touch points and are trusted because they CONSISTENTLY deliver on their promises. – BJ Bueno via @CultBranding #BrandTip

THE 10 STORIES GREAT LEADERS TELL by Paul Smith
To quote Paul Smith, “Every great leader is a great storyteller…[but] the first and most important part of being a great storyteller is knowing what stories to tell.” Smith explained that a leader must be able to answer these questions in order to become a great storyteller:
(1) Where we came from = a founding story
(2) Why we can’t stay here = a case-for-change story
(3) Where we’re going = a vision story
(4) How we’re going to get there = a strategy story
(5) What we believe = a corporate values story
(6) Who we serve = a customer story
(7) What we do for our customers = a sales story
(8) How we’re different from our competitors = a marketing story
(9) Why I lead the way I do = a leadership philosophy story
(10) Why you should want to work here = a recruiting story

TWEET THIS: Strategy is how you’ll get from where you are now to where you want to be, a journey. And what better way to describe a journey than a story? -@leadwithastory #LeadershipTip

CONVERSATION MARKETING by Kevin Lund
The sub-title of this book was “How to Be Relevant and Engage Your Customer by Speaking Human.” How often do brands “speak like humans” and ask customers, “How can I help you?” According to Lund, “In a business marketing setting, effective conversation elevates content from a tired commodity to prose that motivates. It humanizes a brand…The Conversation Age requires businesses to educate, motivate, inspire, and even entertain their customers, all while telling a human story. When brands speak human, this conversation begins and the journey from customer discovery to customer loyalty can begin.”

Lund’s content marketing strategy can be boiled down to three/five questions:
(1) What does your target audience need to know right now? (relevant, useful, trending)
(2) What’s the right angle? How can your brand talk about the issue in a unique way?
(3) What’s the punchline? What do you want them to do?

TWEET THIS: By integrating your brand with your audience, and earning their trust over time, you’ll enjoy a greater lifetime value with each customer. -@KLundT3 of @T3Custom #CX

LESSONS FROM THE MOUSE by Dennis Snow
The sub-title of this book was “A Guide for Applying Disney World’s Secrets of Success to Your Organization, Your Career, and Your Life.” I interviewed author Dennis Snow, a fellow alum of The Walt Disney Company, on my blog last summer (August 2018), and the link to my interview is provided at the end of this book review post. While Snow shared ten important lessons from working at Walt Disney World, my favorite was lesson number seven: “Never ever say ‘That’s not my job’ – don’t even think it.” No matter what industry you work in, the “it’s not my job syndrome” must not ever appear in your corporate culture.

TWEET THIS: A customer-focused culture is one in which everything is designed with the “lens of the customer” in mind. -@DennisSnow #CX #BrandExperience

USING YOUR BRAIN TO WIN by Holly G. Green
According to Green, “From the time we get up in the morning until we lay our heads on the pillow at night, we’re bombarded with information from countless sources. Advertising, emails, voicemails, texts, Twitter, Facebook, TV, radio, etc. They say that we live in the Information Age, but many days, it feels like the Distracted Age…Slowing down to go fast starts with actively seeking out information from a variety of sources. Pay attention to trends and events outside your industry. Then look for ways to apply that information to improve internal systems and processes or to add value to customers in new and better ways.”

TWEET THIS: At weekly management meetings, talk about an idea or technique from another industry and how it might apply to your business. -@HollyGGreen #BizTip

BUILD AN A-TEAM by Whitney Johnson
Whitney’s best teambuilding advice is to be a CEO, defined as a Chief Encouragement Officer, because “You don’t win unless your team does.” In addition, managers need to know the seven accelerants of learning, which include:
(1) The right risks = become a talent developer
(2) Distinctive strengths = pinpoint employees’ talents and utilize them
(3) Embrace constraints = use time limits to motivate and hone focus
(4) Battle against entitlement = celebrate success and be generous in helping employees fulfill their potential
(5) Step back to grow = sacrifice short-term productivity to encourage curve jumping
(6) Give failure its due = let employees take on uncomfortable challenges and support them through failures
(7) Be discovery driven = shift players on your team as their skills and talents emerge

TWEET THIS: In the first week of employment, hold a strategy session with a new hire, just as you would a customer. In fact, a new hire is a customer, a highly important, long-term customer. -@JohnsonWhitney #EmployeeExperience

THE SERVICE CULTURE HANDBOOK by Jeff Toister
Toister began his book by sharing a story about how a Tampa International Airport employee went above and beyond the call of duty to reunite a six-year-old boy with his lost stuffed animal. This was an unforgettable example of when “employees are obsessed with service,” and can happen once Toister’s directives are followed:
(1) Define your culture
(2) Engage employees with your culture
(3) Align your business around a customer-focused culture
(4) Set goals that drive your culture
(5) Hire employees who will embrace your culture
(6) Train employees to embody your culture
(7) Empower employees to support your culture
(8) Make sure that leaders/leadership team support, communicate, and live the culture
(9) Commit to a customer-focused culture for the long-term

Toister also pointed out that it’s important for organizations to remember that not every brand can be Disney, Southwest, Nordstrom, Ritz-Carlton, or Amazon. “Trying to copy another company’s culture is an exercise in futility. There are too many things that vary from company to company, such as, business models, target customers, product line, organizational history, and even the skills and personalities of the employees.”

Lastly, since employees are the secret sauce in this discussion, Toister suggests creating an Ideal Candidate Profile for the hiring process that includes the following elements:
(1) Organizational must-haves
(2) Organizational nice-to-haves
(3) Job-specific must-haves
(4) Job-specific nice-to-haves

TWEET THIS: A hero moment occurs any time an employee, a team, or an entire company rises to the occasion to provide customers with outstanding service. -@Toister #CX #BrandExperience

KICK-ASS LEADERSHIP by Dr. Deborah Osgood
The sub-title of this book was “Discover What Makes Great Leaders Tick,” and six leaders representing a variety of businesses and the military were featured. Ten characteristics that make leaders tick were introduced and explained: adaptability, perseverance, networking, teamwork, focus, courage, conviction, innovation, self-discipline, and passion.

TWEET THIS: The more we can collaborate to inspire others to find their leader within, the better! -@OsgoodandAssoc #LeadershipTip #EmployeeExperience #EmployerBranding

CUSTOMER UNDERSTANDING: THREE WAYS TO PUT THE “CUSTOMER” IN CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE AND AT THE HEART OF YOUR BUSINESS by Annette Franz
On page three, Franz asked, “Is your company guilty of not putting the customer in customer experience?” While the theme was how to CREATE A CUSTOMER-CENTRIC BUSINESS, first, you must know who your customers are. After providing a definition of customer experience as “the sum of all interactions that a customer has with an organization,” she suggested that too many businesses focus on customer satisfaction metrics, rather than on the customers themselves. 

Does your business ask, how will a change impact the customer? Will this product or service change add value, or does it create pain? How often are customers’ best interests included in new product or service design discussions? Do you empathize with customers? Do you have a customer journey map? Have you aligned your business around the customer? And lastly, Franz discussed Jeff Bezos’ empty chair concept. At Amazon meetings, Bezos includes an empty chair to represent the customer. This is a constant reminder that everything Amazon does is for the customer. Does your business operate in this manner?

TWEET THIS: Put the customer in customer experience – and make the customer experience your highest priority. -@AnnetteFranz #CX #BizTip #BrandExperience

SUSTAINED LEADERSHIP WBS (WORK BREAKDOWN STRUCTURE) by Thomas G. Reid
In his book of nearly 700 pages, Reid explained, “The Sustained Leadership WBS will guide those who wish to learn more about being a leader to understand the skills, actions, and characteristics of successful leadership, offer a roadmap for assessing  their current leadership acumen, and provide a personalized course of study and actions to improve their leadership.” 

A memorable quote by Andy Stanley in Vince Molinaro’s book, The Leadership Contract, was shared, “When a leader attempts to become well-rounded, he brings down the average of the organization’s leadership quotient – which brings down the level of the leaders around him. Don’t strive to be a well-rounded leader. Instead, discover your zone and stay there. Then delegate everything else.”

This incredible quote will remain with me and join my list of favorite leadership quotes. How often do you encounter leaders who think and act as if they must be well-rounded in every aspect of a business? As this quote explains, this perspective causes damage.

TWEET THIS: Choosing to be a leader is neither simple nor easy. -@_TomGReid #LeadershipTip

THE CUSTOMER-CENTRICITY PLAYBOOK by Peter Fader and Sarah Toms
In a follow-up book to Fader’s Customer Centricity, Focus on the Right Customers for Strategic Advantage (link to my review at end of this post), Fader and Toms provided an alternative perspective to customer-centricity. First, they defined customer centricity as “the alignment of the development and delivery of a company’s products and services with the current and future needs of its highest-value customers while also recognizing and celebrating customer heterogeneity.” And if you’re a baseball fan and a Dodgers fan, you’ll enjoy the case study that ends the book entitled, “The Los Angeles Dodgers – A Home Run for Customer Centricity.”

Readers learned how to:
(1) Develop a customer-centric strategy
(2) Understand the right way to think about customer lifetime value (CLV)
(3) Finetune investments in customer acquisition and retention
(4) Foster a culture that sustains customer centricity and understands the link between CLV and market valuation
(5) Understand customer relationship management (CRM) systems

TWEET THIS: If I could pull out my magic wand and wave it and see the future value of each and every customer, I would run my business differently. -@faderp #CX #BrandExperience

TWEET THIS: For me, customer experience is surfacing all of your expertise, your goodies, and your secret sauce to your customers. -@SarahEToms #CX #BrandExperience

LEADING SO PEOPLE WILL FOLLOW by Erika Andersen
In this, the third leadership book I’ve read by Andersen (links to other reviews are provided at the end of this post), a fairy tale and its highlights are referenced throughout the book. The fairy tale demonstrated six timeless attributes of an effective leader. The attributes are listed below:
(1) Farsightedness = Leaders see possible futures that are good for a business, articulate their vision in a compelling and inclusive way, model their vision, see past obstacles, and invite others to participate in the vision
(2) Passionate = Leaders commit honestly, make a clear case without being dogmatic, invite dialogue about their passion, act in support of their passion, and remain committed despite adversity and setbacks
(3) Courageous = Leaders make necessary/tough choices, put themselves at risk for the good of the business, do things that are personally difficult, take full responsibility for their actions, admit and apologize for mistakes
(4) Wise = Leaders are deeply curious/listen, assess situations objectively, reflect on and learn from their experiences, see patterns and share their insights with others, act based on what they believe is morally right
(5) Generous = Leaders assume positive intent, share power and authority, share knowledge, freely give credit/praise/reward, provide the resources necessary for others to succeed
(6) Trustworthy = Leaders tell the truth as they understand it, do what they say they will do, keep confidences, speak and act for the greater good, act capable and get results

When looking at leaders you’ve known and followed over the years, how many of these attributes have you personally witnessed? Do you agree that Andersen’s set of tools are necessary? I do!

TWEET THIS: You CAN become the leader people will follow. -@erikaandersen #LeadershipTip #LeadershipDevelopment

To make this list a baker’s dozen (13 books), here’s a work of fiction: 
THE LAST ALIBI by David Ellis
This is a murder mystery, a legal thriller, and a who-dunit all wrapped into one. A big surprise will leave the reader shaking his or her head long after the final page.

You can follow and learn more about the authors on Twitter:
BJ Bueno @CultBranding
Paul Smith @LeadWithAStory
Kevin Lund @KLundT3 and @T3Custom
Dennis Snow @DennisSnow
Holly Green @HollyGGreen
Whitney Johnson @JohnsonWhitney
Jeff Toister @Toister (Book’s website: www.serviceculturebook.com)
Dr. Deborah Osgood @OsgoodandAssoc
Annette Franz @AnnetteFranz and @CXJourney
Thomas G. Reid @_TomGReid
Erika Andersen @erikaandersen
Peter Fader and Sarah Toms @faderp and @sarahetoms
David Ellis @DavidEllisBooks

Post referenced in review of Dennis Snow’s book:
“Why Your Brand Needs a University and Other Tips for an Amazing Brand Experience”
http://debbielaskey.blogspot.com/2018/08/why-your-brand-needs-university-and.html 

Stories referenced in review of Jeff Toister’s book:
“Boy leaves stuffed tiger at TPA, returns to a tale of tiger's big adventure”
http://www.tampaairport.com/boy-leaves-stuffed-tiger-tpa-returns-tale-tigers-big-adventure
and
“Stuffed Giraffe Shows What Customer Service Is All About”
https://www.huffpost.com/entry/stuffed-giraffe-shows-wha_b_1524038
and
“Great Customer Service Never Ends: Joshie the Giraffe - Part 2”
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-hurn/great-customer-service-ne_b_8340954.html

Concept referenced in review of Annette Franz’s book:
“Why You Need an Empty Chair at Important Meetings”
https://www.management-issues.com/opinion/6675/why-you-need-an-empty-chair-at-important-meetings

Book referenced in review of Thomas G. Reid’s book:
The Leadership Contract by Vince Molinaro
https://theleadershipcontract.com/books

My review of Faber’s first book on Business2Community.com:
Is Your Business Customer-Centric?
https://www.business2community.com/customer-experience/business-customer-centric-0634144

Other Erika Andersen book reviews:
Review of: Being Strategic: Plan for Success, Out-Think Your Competitors, Stay Ahead of Change
http://debbielaskey.blogspot.com/2011/07/want-to-be-nicknamed-strategy-guru.html
and
Review of:
Be Bad First: Get Good at Things Fast to Stay Ready for the Future
http://debbielaskey.blogspot.com/2018/10/fall-reading-recap-leadership-branding.html


Image Credit: Debbie Laskey’s Library.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Always Have a Conversation with Your Audience

The best part of social media, and especially my favorite platforms Twitter and Instagram, is the people I meet from all over the world and the information they share. Recently, I met Bart Egnal, and due to his passion for leadership, I invited him to appear on my Blog to share his expertise. Highlights of our conversation follow a brief introduction.

Bart Egnal has 20 years of experience as a speech writer, executive coach, and leadership development professional. He is the a author of Leading Through Language: Choosing Words That Influence and Inspire (available on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.ca/Leading-Through-Language-Choosing-Influence/dp/1119087716). He built The Humphrey Group into a global company by finding like-minded people who believe in the power of inspirational communication. He lives in Toronto, Canada, with his amazing wife, three wild children, and a fierce eight-pound wiener dog. You can find Bart on Twitter (@THG_Bart), his podcast (https://soundcloud.com/inspirepodcast), and his company's website (www.thehumphreygroup.com).

QUESTION: We “met” after I read an article you wrote about social media and the decision you and your company, The Humphrey Group, made to leave Twitter. I was inspired by your article and then wrote a Blog post (link provided at end of this post). What three pieces of advice would you give to a leadership team that might be considering the same decision?
BART EGNAL: It was a tough decision because of the pressure to "be social." My advice: You have to love the channel for its own sake, you have to have a client base that connects with you on it, and you have to "feed the beast" and keep up the stream to make your presence sustainable.

QUESTION: How do you see the employee experience tied into or aligned with the customer experience, ultimately what I refer to as the overall brand experience?
BART EGNAL: Deeply tied. Our vision is to make The Humphrey Group the go-to company for inspirational communication. Obviously, that's for clients who want to lead and inspire, but equally important is how we want to attract talent who shares our passion, and then give them a great place to work. Our brand is built on both what our clients and our team experience. We can never stop working on making both of those great.

QUESTION: Everyone has heard about “McDonald’s University” and “Disney University,” where employees learn about corporate culture before direct interaction with customers. Do you think every company should create a similar form of initial and repeat training?
BART EGNAL: Ideally yes! Of course, you need a certain amount of scale to make such an endeavour possible. But every employee should learn about what the company stands for, it's "WHY," before doing any work. This is both so they are energized but also so they can share that raison d'etre with clients. If you don't have the size of Disney, you can do that through conversations.

QUESTION: As a public speaker, you must have some communication tricks up your sleeve to keep your audiences engaged. What three tips would you like to share to improve my readers’ public speaking skills?
BART EGNAL: Remember: You're never giving a presentation or speech, you're always having a CONVERSATION with your audience. So connect with the room, be personal and be vulnerable. We've (thankfully) left behind the age of the "sage on the stage," and audiences want to connect in an authentic way with speakers. And a tip: they aren't there to read your slides - they want to hear from you.

QUESTION: What three things must everyone do to create a memorable personal brand?
BART EGNAL: I'm not a brand expert, but when it comes to leadership communication, it all starts with knowing yourself and what you stand for. This is fundamental to authenticity. Once you know that, define the ideas you want to convey so you can be ready to lead. And finally, you have to work at it. I just told a client I was coaching last week that those who look like naturals have often worked unnaturally hard at it.

QUESTION: Lastly, one of my favorite leadership quotes is from author and consultant Mark Herbert (@NewParadigmer on Twitter): "Leadership doesn't require you to be the smartest person in the room. It requires you to block and tackle for others" What does that quote mean to you?
BART EGNAL: Great quote! In this day and age, leadership is increasingly de-coupled from hierarchy and from credentials. Leading rarely is about your skills or aptitude or title. It's about how you can create followership in others. Where will you lead them? What will be inspiring to them? That's what this means to me.

My gratitude and appreciation to Bart for appearing on my Blog and for sharing his inspiring insights.

Blog post referenced above in first question:

Social Media: Brand Builder or Mission Distraction?
http://debbielaskey.blogspot.com/2019/09/social-media-brand-builder-or-mission.html

Image Credit: Bart Egnal quote with WordSwag app.