July 2010

Improve Your Brand Identity by David Aaker

Achieving Less Din, More Dialog in Your Social Media Presence

Shift Your Role, Reputation… and Your Rewards

Interview with Barry Judge, CMO, Best Buy

Recommended Reading

News & Events


Improve Your Brand Identity

By David Aaker

A brand identity or vision is the aspirational image of what you want your brand to stand for. Too often a brand will have an identity that is too vague with a corresponding lack of direction about which programs should be stimulated to make it come to life. The solution is to elaborate the key identity elements in four ways:

  • Strategic imperatives. These entail strategic investments in assets or programs that are necessary for your aspirational image to be achieved or maintained. If your company won't fund such programs, then it's time to rethink the brand.
  • Proof points. These are programs, initiatives, and assets already in place that provide substance to the core identity and communicate what it means. They provide credibility that the brand is based on proven substance, not wholly on future programs.
  • Internal role models. Symbolic role models are programs, events, stories, or people that hit the bullseye in representing the brand identity. These can be extremely powerful because they are already in the brand context.
  • External role models. These pack even more punch, because they are not limited to what's already in the organization but the wider world. They allow you to borrow from brands you admire or come closest to how you’d like yours perceived.

All combine to form a rich picture of brand identity and also provide a plan for action. The strategic imperative and proof points provide some "must dos" and "must maintains" that can challenge the organization. Role models can stimulate effective programs: Why were they selected? How did they come to be? Can they be replicated or adapted? It is hard to go through this exercise without emerging with some ideas for brand building that will be out-of-the-box and highly effective.

David Aaker is vice chairman of Prophet and can be reached at daaker@prophet.com. An expanded version of this article, which appeared in Marketing News, can be read here.

Achieving Less Din, More Dialog in Your Social Media Presence

By Chiaki Nishino

There's a virtual din surrounding social media and how "everyone's" using it to win hearts and minds, and even help grow the business.

The time is right to join in, but not before reframing your thinking about social media away from the tactical ("How do I use Facebook and Twitter?") toward the strategic ("What role can/should social media play in my business?"). Doing so will ensure that instead of adding to the noise, you're positioning your organization to win.

Tactical decisions on specific social media channels only scratch the surface when it comes to their impact on brands, marketing and, ultimately, your business. Instead, consider asking questions like: "How does social media affect our brand?" "What is its influence on business goals?" "How do we create an appropriate social media strategy?"

To read the complete version of this article, click here.

To learn how to think about social media and ways to develop smart, business-supporting strategies, view our recent webinar on the subject here. It is led by Prophet Partners Chiaki Nishino and Andrew Pierce, along with Senior Associate Gabriela Henault and Associate Matt Daniels.

Shift Your Role, Reputation… and Your Rewards

By Scott Davis, Prophet, and Carlos Cata, Heidrick & Struggles

Marketing's leadership in driving business success has never been more in demand, and it's those who have expanded their mindsets, skills, and capabilities who are setting the standard.

You can improve your impact and reputation in 2010 and beyond, and at the same time, influence your career trajectory. You can start by making one or more of these shifts:

From defensive back to quarterback. Too often, we see senior marketers intent on holding their ground as they play the defensive strategy. Instead, like a skilled quarterback, they must become the playmaker for the team – which, incidentally, consists of the entire company, not just the marketing function.

From innovator to inventor. Innovation for innovation's sake is not going to drive the business. Senior management is increasingly on the lookout for marketers who don't merely do things better, but reinvent how they go about things. This is particularly true in the face of vastly changing consumer behavior dynamics as evidenced by the explosion in social media. It's forcing a massive reinvention of ways to both interpret customer needs and to market more successfully.

From mechanic to driver. Having spent time under the hood understanding the metrics and analytics that gauge the engine's performance, it's time for marketers to get behind the wheel and start driving the business.

From artist to architect. Empathy and creativity are something good CMOs must have in strong measure in order to understand and deliver against what motivates the customer. But that must be balanced by a strong strategic and analytic bent – the ability to rethink the ways the business creates differentiation and preference in an era marked by proliferating channels and new ways of customer connection within them.

From producer to director. Producers are good to have around. They make sure the production is running smoothly, and the finances are in place and being deployed properly. But as we go from a "me" to a "we" setting, it's a director who's really needed: the creative, inspirational force who has the vision for what needs to be accomplished, and the collaborative chops to marshal the skills and forces of many.

Resist the temptation of the "m"arketing versus "M"arketing comfort zone if you hope to avoid marginalization. Start shifting your approach and mindset; both you and your organization will be the better for it.

Scott Davis is Chief Growth Officer of Prophet. Carlos Cata is Regional Managing Partner for the CMO practice of Heidrick & Struggles. An expanded version of this article can be found here.

Interview with Barry Judge, CMO, Best Buy

Q&A with an empowered CMO

Photo of Barry Judge, CMO, Best Buy

When Barry Judge joined Best Buy (his career started at BestBuy.com) in 1999, marketing throughout the business was fairly typical for retail: it was a function that was marketing communications oriented, whose job was to "drive traffic through weekly promotional inserts and be funny on television." Empowered by CEO support and enabled by technology, marketing at Best Buy today is seen as the capability that doesn't just define the business, but ensures it wins. In this Q&A, Judge elaborates.

Q: What have you learned that would help other marketers become business growth drivers?

Judge: A big part of success depends on people and the relationships you’re able to build over time. CEO support is critical. But you really need good people that either you work for or who are going to work with you on meeting this agenda – and they are both inside and outside the company.

Q: Part and parcel of those relationships is the legion of Best Buy brand evangelists that has been created – people who are instrumental in shaping the customer experience. How do you go about empowering people to take on that role?

Judge: A lot of people think of retailing as a matter of just selling merchandise. You know, customers just grab what they want and check out. But Best Buy is all about our Blue Shirts providing an in-store experience that's better than what they get from any other retailer.

We equip our people to be what we call "human search engine," who can help customers figure out what they need. There is technical know-how and training involved, but to make them into evangelists ultimately comes down to culture. You have to create an "I Care" attitude among people at all levels. You get that environment through things like a local growth plan for each store based on what they believe their local customers need. And you get it by fostering a good work environment that engages people at a much deeper level than the competition.

Q: Human search engines…That concept opens the door to your views on technology and the role it plays at so many levels in shaping the customer experience.

Judge: Let's start with the fact that technology helps us really understand our customers, to be able to collect data that tells us who bought (and what), their demographics, and why they are buying what they are buying. That knowledge allows us to build much better value propositions. And aside from market research surveys and the like, technology enables us to better aggregate all the questions that customers are asking, through our sales force, our call center and our forum. It gives us customer service insights – data that has become a huge asset.

Technology also helps us reach out to customers more effectively – enabling an increasingly high level of customization in, for example, our e-mail advertising. We run 350 campaigns a week, and we can customize about 12 million pieces, so we can now customize incredibly well.

But what's really exciting is the way that technology allows us to bring the online and offline experience together to serve the customer. Think about it. The customer comes into a store and can shop via his handheld device. Or, our Blue Shirts or sales associates can walk around with a pad technology that's going to allow them to be human search engines – the ability to simultaneously check stuff out through the Internet as well as be there in the physical environment to take care of customer needs.

The other piece involves distribution. Not only do you have more people coming into your store or to your website, but you've also got to get your brand out to where people are congregating in the digital world – you know, Facebook and the like. It's really something that businesses need to think about now.

Q: You often are held up as an example of an executive who walks the social media talk, who personally uses Twitter, for example. How do you think about the value in social media?

Judge: I use Twitter to break down the barriers between me and other people that are actually in existence in a big company. It helps people connect to me more easily.
In fact, the concept of social media for us as a brand is to make it as easy as possible for someone to complain, because people are complaining anyway and you might as well hear from them.

Q: To wrap up our conversation, are there any challenges in repositioning marketing as the business' growth engine that you consider particularly daunting?

Judge: I think it's always going to be more difficult at a company that doesn't have a deep marketing heritage. When you do marketing for a Proctor & Gamble or a Coca-Cola or a Kraft, well, people there get marketing, so you don't constantly have to validate yourself. In a retail company – and many others – you have to validate marketing a lot. It's maybe not daunting, but it is an important part of the job.

Follow Barry on Twitter: @BestBuyCMO

Recommended Reading

Managing a Portfolio of Brands
By Roger Sinclair
Roger discusses how portfolio management can be a key ingredient in creating enterprise value. The Prophet Brand Valuation Tool offers sensitive and unique facilities for this management function.

Look at More Stuff. Think About it Harder.
By Joseph Gelman
Joseph shows how innovation can change your perception of a product and provides four concepts to foster innovation: Inspiration Safaris, Human Libraries, Thief and Doctor, and the Worst Idea.

In Defense of Workshops
By Catherine Strotmeyer
In this article, we use four workshop examples: Frito Lay, GE, Trustmark, and Timberland to illustrate how workshops can be highly effective for engaging individuals and teams around innovation challenges and bringing new ideas to the business.

Take Stock: Aligning Marketing Investments with Growth Objectives
By Fred Geyer
A robust growth investment inventory can effectively identify opportunities to reallocate spending to the fastest growing customer segments or more profitable channels, or to address key issues in the business.

News & Events

Dr. Mark Esser joined Prophet as Partner in Germany. Read more.

Roger Sinclair, Marketing Professor and Partner at Prophet, is quoted in BusinessDay about using the World Cup as a platform to build awareness through television viewers and press coverage.

David Aaker was quoted in The New York Times in an article titled "Why Does This Pair of Pants Cost $550?" and spoke at Stanford with his daughter, Professor Jennifer Aaker, about the shifting role of marketing.

Scott Davis spoke to students at the Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism about what it takes to be a visionary marketer.

Aneysha Pearce and Fred Geyer shared their thoughts about McDonald's marketing strategy: Aneysha was quoted in Marketing Week about McDonald's Olympic sponsorship and Fred Geyer talked to Crain's Chicago Business about the role of Ronald McDonald.

In London, Vanessa Cohen talked to the Marketing Society Forum about the Warburton case and whether consumers care more about price than provenance.

Spotlight on Speaking

Brand ManageCamp
September 21 – 22 — Las Vegas
David Aaker and Andy Stefanovich are keynoting on the first day of the conference. Andy will talk about "The Inspiration Discipline: How a Different Lens on Your View of Everything Can Radically Change How Your Impact Your Business." David will speak on "Making Competitors Irrelevant: Creating Sustainable Brand Differentiation."

The Private Brand Movement
September 27–29 — Chicago
Scott Davis is keynoting on the first day of the conference on the topic, "Today's Marketer, Tomorrow's Growth Leader?" He will outline how marketing executives can become successful catalysts for growth within their organizations.

Marketing Society Awards for Excellence
September 23 — London
Prophet is proud to sponsor this event that sets the standard of marketing excellence in the UK. They have established their reputation as the leading marketing awards in the UK over a period of 25 years. The winning case studies appear in Marketing, the UK's highest circulation industry magazine.

European CMO Conference
September 30 — Zurich
The European CMO Conference is Europe's leading platform for marketing executives to access strategic marketing knowledge and exchange marketing insights. Peter Dixon will speak about "Bringing Your Brand to Life."


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Consultants’ Corner

In this issue, our consultants sound off on great customer experiences.

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