However, unless they also understand the right things to do, i.e., understand and execute a BrandMindset, they may not achieve genuine brand status over the long term. There are five fundamental brand paradigm shifts that can be utilized by organizations to develop a more distinctive perception and enhance their brand equity. They include brand leverage, brand discipline, brand playing field, brand focus, and brand value.
The traditional point of view is that if you’re good at what you do, that’s enough. Every organization buys and sells some combination of products and services and “doing it right” is required, but that may not be enough to become a genuine brand.
At the beginning of every day, CEOs who practice the Brand Mindset lead their organizations with two primary objectives: exceptional operation of the business and maximum leverage of brand equity.
Most decisions on a daily basis are made based on the “O” word: opinions. If business opinions are well informed, the organization may, with hope, succeed. All too often, however, decisions are based on opinions that do not accurately reflect an objective evaluation of the brand’s situation at hand.
The marketplace changes so rapidly that it is essential to have information that is accurate, current, relevant, and objective in order to reach correct conclusions. In addition, it is all important to have consumer and customer input.
Ask yourself, “Who sits in the consumer’s chair and represents the customer’s viewpoint during every meeting?” Especially when important decisions are made, it is essential to test proposed changes with customers to fully understand the impact on a brand.
Why do airline pilots run through a preflight checklist every single time before they depart? It’s because there is no room for error. Lives are at stake. It is essential to the success of the flight that everything be in proper working order and “done by the book.” The same rigor should be applied to every brand decision. A brand discipline checklist should be completed for every decision in which the life of a brand is at stake.
Brand Playing Field
The majority of most organizations’ time is involved discussing or analyzing the product or process part of the business. This nar¬row focus is the reason genuine brands can upset and capture a marketplace so rapidly.
Consider Federal Express; they have been so successful they have even changed their name to FedEx. They have utilized the BrandMindset by focusing their brand on the entire playing field, not just products or processes.
Most organi-zations pay the lowest wage to their associates who service the customers. By design, this was not how FedEx built its brand. Prior to the existence of FedEx, the place to go for shipping pack¬ages overnight was the nearest airport. FedEx turned the tables and changed the playing field. It brought the “airport” to the customer.
Today, you can find a FedEx drop-box in thousands of locations, from street corners and office buildings to hotels and, yes, every Kinko’s®. FedEx picks up and delivers! Moreover, some 18,000 customers a day navigate their own way via FedEx’s Website. FedEx believes a good line of products is the entry fee to compete, but their service, i.e., “immediate gratification,” is what their brand is all about.
FedEx is more than just a business with a brand name. FedEx has become synonymous with overnight satisfaction. When consumers really want to be sure a package is going to be received, they say, “FedEx it.”
The traditional business approach has been to create a business plan or even a strategic plan that drives the budgets, which in turn fund an organization’s activities.
On the contrary, it is es¬sential for the BrandStrategy doctrine to drive all the organization’s activities as well as the business plan and then the budgets, not the other way around. In too many cases, anything that has to do with brand has been relegated to marketing or advertising.
An organization’s leadership and executive team must direct and own this doctrine. Marketing’s primary function, among other responsibilities, is to communicate the desired brand per¬ception using the appropriate messages and mediums.
When the subject of value comes up today, price always seems to be the term at the forefront of the conversation. Traditional marketing methods have examined the price/value relationship in terms of dollars paid.
Many marketers believe that customers perceive value to mean lowest price. Lowest price is also interpreted to mean frequent sales and promotional discounts. But a marketing position of lowest price is the most difficult to sustain, and it usually is an indication that the brand or organization has become a commodity in the minds of consumers. Commodities generally have no distinct point of differentiation except price. Customers looking for the lowest price tend to be loyal to the price, not the brand.
Many consumers today are saying their most precious resource is time. Brands that understand this concept are careful to develop and deliver promises that reflect what consumers value. As a result, genuine brands enjoy increased profitability, more customer loyalty, and enhanced brand equity when customers perceive that a brand consistently delivers value.