Q&A with Denise Lee Yohn, author of What Great Brands Do
How will What Great Brands Do help us run better businesses?
Too many companies waste time, energy, and money on advertising and marketing their brands, only to have their efforts fall short. I want to show a different and more effective and sustainable way to build a brand—the way the greatest brands do.
What differentiates a great brand from a merely good one?
Most traditional branding efforts create an image to serve as the "face" of a company-a look and tagline to promote a business, or a new advertising or social media campaign to reinvigorate it—but these activities simply serve to express a brand. Great brands execute their brands, elevating the brand from an external-facing message to a strategic tool for managing the business. They use their brand to shape their culture, focus their core operations, and design their customer experiences. This brand-as-business approach has proven to be far more effective than "branding."
What can stand in the way of implementing the brand-as-business approach?
Some business leaders think of brands only in terms of messages and marketing tactics because that's all they know. Others want a quick fix and would rather change what they say about themselves rather than actually change. Still others understand the full business value of a brand but lack the tools and methods to realize it. What Great Brands Do will educate the first group, persuade the second, and equip the last.
Why is rethinking our approach to brand-building so critical today?
In practically every sector, competition is intensifying. Companies must differentiate themselves in substantive ways and deliver real value to customers. At the same time, those consumers are savvier than ever, and they're equipped with tools that enable them to see beneath a veneer that a company puts up. Image and reality must be closely aligned. Finally, advertising budgets are getting squeezed, but expectations for brand awareness and preference remain. The solution to all of these pressures is an integral brand strategy.
Who needs to read this book?
What Great Brands Do is for CEOs, COOs, entrepreneurs, and other leaders—people who have the responsibility, and the desire, to grow their organizations. My book challenges the conventional rhetoric about brands and teaches the most essential brand-building principles and tools for running a better business.
Yohn, a branding consultant and speaker, with an all-star clientlist that includes Sony, Frito-Lay, and Burger King, knows exactlywhat it takes to raise a brand to the top and keep it there. Hereshe shares techniques that can elevate a brand to icon status. Sheexplores how a great company can avoid obsolescence by using itsbrand as a management tool to fuel, align, and guide its people andinitiatives. The eponymous seven brand-building principles are eachgiven a chapter: start with a brand-building corporate culture;ignore trends; don't chase customers; commit and stay committed;and avoid selling products. Yohn's exercises, tools, and actionsteps will help elevate the conversation and undoubtedly enhanceany company’s focus on branding. In addition to case studiesthat feature Google, Trader Joe's, IBM, and Shake Shack, Yohnprovides her most valuable recommendations in her "Brand asBusiness" chapter, which ties together the seven principles andshows how to integrate them to produce growth and brand strength.Yohn's book is helpful reading for executives and managers at alllevels, and it will guide the next generation of great brands.(Jan.) (Publishers Weekly, December 2013)