Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Brand of a Great Brand

What Great Brands Do: The Seven Brand Building Principles That Separate the Best From the Rest – Denise Lee Yohn (Josey-Bass Books)

Over time I have heard brand defined as a name, a strategy, a logo, a design, a term, an image, advertising, a look and feel, a personality and even an aura of a company or business. While each one of those distinct element may play a role in a businesses overall brand, they aren’t truly what defines a company brand.

In What Great Brands Do: The Seven Brand Building Principles That Separate the Best From the Rest, author/consultant Denise Lee Yohn comes close to delivering the broadest, most accurate definition of brand. Yohn describes a brand as “a bundle of values and attributes that define the value you deliver to people through the entire customer experience and the unique way of doing business that forms the basis of your company’s relationships with all of its stakeholders.” While that may seem wordy, it does latch directly on to the essence of what great brands should be. Yohn boils down the approach to brand building to seven broad categories with a number of actionable steps that comprise a link in the chain.

The Seven Principles

1) Great Brand Start Inside
2) Great Brands Avoid Selling Products
3) Great Brand Ignore Trends
4) Great Brands Don’t Chase Customers
5) Great Brands Sweat the Small Stuff
6) Great Brand Commit and Stay Committed
7) Great Brands Never Have to Give Back

While each of the principles plays an integral role in the brand process, it is the first principle that is the most critical in my judgment; great brands start inside. To begin process of building a great company and a brand extension of that company, it critical that there be an internal buy in from all of the constituencies that make up the whole. It is those internal players that will help drive the outward extension of any brand. I found myself nodding in agreement when Yohn writes about great brands ignoring trends, avoiding selling products and chasing customers.

These clearly should never be manifestations of a great brand. By committing to the process and carefully monitoring every step in the process, great brands will reap the benefits of what they sow.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Cleveland Clinic Way – Lessons in Excellence From One of the World’s Leading Healthcare Organizations – Toby Cosgrove, M.D. (McGraw Hill Education)

Imagine…you have built what easily ranks as one of the most respected, world renowned brands/institutions in healthcare, noted for its delivery of medical excellence in a wide range of service lines. One day a patient arrives at the facility and in the course of receiving that world class care they have a negative experience with a hospital technician or a housekeeper or food service staff – what are they likely to remember about their time at your facility? You probably guessed correctly.

As a professional healthcare marketer I have personally experienced the frustration of developing and marketing centers of medical excellence within a healthcare organization only to have patients have a terrible experience resulting in them leaving the facility outright and taking their business with them or losing future business based on the bad experience. I took the initiative to make customer service and customer experience, a function of the marketing department to help ensure a positive patient experience every step of the way from door to discharge.

It is that pursuit of excellence, not only on the medical side, but also the total patient focused experience the Dr. Toby Cosgrove, the president and CEO of the Cleveland Clinic writes about in The Cleveland Clinic Way – Lessons in Excellence From One of the World’s Leading Healthcare Organizations. Cosgrove details the innovative strategies that the Cleveland Clinic has undertaken to utilize a team work approach to the delivery of care and the unique care models it employees in that process.

Cosgrove offers insight into patient focused efforts to meet and exceed patient needs and an emphasis on customer service. In the book Cosgrove talks about a trip to the Harvard Business School where during the course of an interaction with a student he was asked if the Cleveland Clinic “taught empathy.” He tells how that brief interaction resulted in a shift in focus for care delivery to account for the patient’s perception of care. To reinforce the empathy approach to care the Cleveland Clinic’s communications department has put together one of the most effective, most shared and most often downloaded pieces of content marketing in the healthcare industry in the form of a video simply titled Empathy.
Utilizing a combination of innovation, collaboration, customer centric focus, and technology; while Cosgrove’s focus is on healthcare, the innovative approach he writes about can certainly be adapted to any customer facing industries.

Monday, February 10, 2014

The DNA of Excellence

Scaling Up Excellence – Getting More Without Settling for Less – Robert I. Sutton and Huggy Rau (Crown Business)

Think about your business. Are there pockets of excellence, departments or sections of your business that perform at a higher level, deliver better results and just seem to get it? You’ve tried everything short of cloning to try to duplicate those outcomes only to come up short?

It was that frustration that was at the genesis of a seven year search for answers conducted by a pair of Stanford professors on a quest if you will, to map the DNA of Excellence. The results come in the form of Scaling Up Excellence: Getting More Without Settling for Less from Robert I. Sutton and Huggy Rau.

While Sutton and Rau may not have succeeded in drawing up that scientific road map, but they have delivered an important and unique business edition that is based on hard evidence and proven tactics to tackle the challenge of scaling up excellence across an organization.

Sutton and Rau have boiled  scaling excellence down to seven principles:

  1. Spread mindset, not just footprint.
  2.  Engaging all the senses.
  3. Link short-term realities to long-term dreams.
  4. Accelerate accountability.
  5. Fearing the clusterfug.
  6. Scaling requires both addition and subtraction.
  7. Slow down to scale faster - and better - down the road. 
They offer useful guidance and examples for a wide variety of business ranging from healthcare to financial sectors and retail and hospitality to social media and web-based businesses.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Lost Art of Communication

Say This, Not That: A Foolproof Guide to Effective Interpersonal Communication – Carl Alasko, PH.D. (Tarcher Books)

I have been a professional communicator for over 30 years. It’s who I am and what I do.

Interpersonal communication is certainly nothing new, groundbreaking or Earth shattering. As I read through Say This, Not That: A Foolproof Guide to Effective Interpersonal Communication, by Carl Alasko author of Emotional Bullshit, I was struck at how much of the advice that he was passing along seemed to me to be nothing more than common sense.

The more I read the more I was struck by the fact that Alasko could potentially be sitting on a gold mine in the form of doling out what once were basic communication skills to generation of people who had become so enamored with electronic communication forms that they simply were not equipped to participate in the most basic of human relationships, the conversation!

In the book Alasko focuses on dating, relationships, parenting and then later the workplace, by offering up a series of common interactions that we all get involved with on a regular basis; then offers suggestions on how to handle and respond to those scenarios.

While at times Alasko slips into touchy, feely, pop psychology and doles out advice that would make Alan Alda seem like a firm hand; overall he offers up viable solutions for dealing with life and work situations. While this may seem like new ground to some, my best advice would be to put down the damn smartphone and talk!