Below is an article titled: “Stop the narcissism” by Prasad Sangameshwaran, published in The Hindu Business Line.
Most marketing managers will slam the door on this discussion. If you think differently, the future will welcome you with open arms.
How do you identify the red flags in a strong brand?
A strong brand in itself is not a problem. But when the top management assumes that a strong brand can continue indefinitely, it becomes a problem. The common assumptions are that customers will continue to come back or that they can indefinitely continue stretching the brand into newer categories and so on.
“It’s a case of arrogance and also a lot has to do with misplaced assumptions,” says Unni Krishnan, managing director, LongBrand Consulting. Most iconic brands fall because they overestimate their strengths to such an extent that those very assumptions come back to hurt them.
Nikos Mourkogiannis, chairman, LongBrand, cites the example of Westinghouse Electric Corporation which was then the second largest company in the world.
The corporation was the first employer of Mourkogiannis after his graduation from Harvard.
The company, which already had 56 business units, was then planning major investments in real estate to build smart cities in which most managers had no experience. “I was soon a witness in the bankruptcy court,” says Mourkogiannis.
Most brands are milked dry for short-term profit maximisation because the market capital of companies is tied up with that, adds Krishnan.
“It comes from one of the most colloquial concepts called shareholder value maximisation.
Most discussions on brand equity are based on qualitative dimensions but in reality it has to be about long-term cash flows that will be realised in the future from the brand,” he says.
In such a scenario, the call for the management is to decide on whether they should invest in the long term by forgoing some aspects of the current profits.
“These decisions are completely flawed in the board room,” says Krishnan. In most cases, the sole purpose of the brand and company has become short-term profit maximisation. “This is typically how culture, values and innovation go for a toss,” says Krishnan.
Take the example of Kodak, which was a superpower of a brand, leading in all aspects. The company had a strong film business, but it also had a set of digital products.
Kodak was 15 years ahead of competition and had ramped up its digital technology but its managers continued to push the existing film business. The leadership of the company was about serving the masters on the Wall Street. In this case, investment in a brand need not mean hiring a brand ambassador or making a big-bang marketing campaign.
Another example he cites is of Volkswagen, which had one of the best advertising campaigns and was perceived to be the global leader in green engineering and diesel technology. “What did they do inside?” he asks.
In most cases the brand builds up a certain set of values but the culture of the company is completely divorced from it.
That’s why the lifespan of corporations is constantly declining. This happens particularly when the compensation of leadership is tied up with market capital improvement, says Krishnan.
The problem with brands is that most of the time brand managers spend time with communication agencies thinking that these are the people who will rescue their brands or take it to the next level.
Krishnan says, “While a part of the attention needs to go to that section, a more compelling argument for brands has shifted to the lifetime value a brand can generate.” This is a discussion that has escaped most brand managers.
Most brand managers engage in narcissistic self-fulfilling discussions on these brands. It calls for an urgent need to reframe the rules of marketing.
This is the second part of a series on why brands need a purpose.
To be continued
The Purpose of Nikos & Co is to help Greece regain its dignity by mobilizing the best of the Greek International Experts to help Greek companies throughout the country become more competitive. Only competitive companies can create the jobs Greeks desperately need.
The company provides:
· Restructuring Studies ,
· Negotiation Support with Stakeholders
(State Agencies ,Unions, Banks or Shareholders)
· Turn- Around Management and
to viable Companies that are experiencing temporary challenges.
Nikos & Co maintains active relationships with
· 4 leading International Banks,
· 2 global Consulting Companies
· 2 major Investment Funds
· 2 International Law Firms
The Board and Staff of the firm are comprised of Greeks who have worked with distinction in the arena of international competition and hold graduate degrees from the world`s leading Universities.
They include MBAs, Engineers, Economists, Lawyers and Accountants.
The firm has offices in London and Athens.
Inquiries can be addressed to Nikos@Nikos.com
@ the Intersection of ‘The Why?’ and Social Marketing
The first place that one begins to see an emerging pop-management meme is in PowerPoint slides. A client or manager gets everyone assembled in a fluorescent-bleached conference room, and the hum of the projector signals “marching orders to come.” If you are in the agency world, you have the privilege of being able to move regularly among various such assemblies, all in a short period of time. When you start seeing the same slide showing up in multiple conference rooms and on conference stages, you know a pop-management meme is on the loose.
Purpose or “The Why?” is a pop-management meme on a tear. One’s never entirely sure who puts a meme in play; but I will credit Nikos Mourkogiannis for his book Purpose: The Starting Point of Great Companies, which I believe will become the Good to Great of the first half of this new decade.
A Purpose genre has emerged in his wake. Agency legend Roy Spence, of Austin’s GSD&M Idea City, has made Purpose his purpose, both as author of It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For and as CEO of the Purpose Institute. In 2009, Simon Sinek joined the Purpose parade with his book, Start with Why, as does former P&G CMO Jim Stengel in his forthcoming book, Grow, a work founded in the concept of Purpose.
So why are they all asking, “Why?”
Is this just the latest in a long list of “USPs,” “Mission Statements,”,“Hedgehogs,” “Elevator Speeches,” “Brand Stories” and other such buzz speak that keeps the consultants in their platinum cards, or is something bigger going on? All of these tomes speak to how important Purpose is for marshaling organizations, attracting talent and fueling growth, but they are also very heavily associated with the changing dynamics of marketing communications. There is an important intersection at which Purpose and social media cross.
The mainstream of communications is now controlled by users, not distributors. Okay, no duh. But where Purpose meets this new mainstream is in the conversation content of social-media chatter. Nearly every marketer who has thus far entered that stream with the conventional “deal-points” approach to marketing communications has been rebuffed.
You can’t just show up at social conversations with your bullet points and promotional offers. You need to be able to talk to people like, well, like you would talk to people. So how does a company or its representatives enter such conversations?
By talking about Purpose, or “The Why.”
You need to be able to enter such conversations with altruistic, empathetic observations, stories and POVS—admittedly contextualized in what your business is up to, but nevertheless not so baldly mercenary. What real good, not just value, is your business delivering to the world? What causes are you pursuing that are larger than next quarter’s deliveries, or even the technical dimensions of your product or service engagement?
Without such Purpose, without starting with “The Why,” you’ll be excluded from the new, critical first phase of the sales cycle: the conversation that precedes and begets consideration.
The bad news is that 99 percent of companies haven’t a clue about their larger Purpose, much less an altruistic, empathetic storyline with which they can enter conversations. The good news is that there is a powerful emerging market demand for the strategic and creative services required to define and propagate such Purpose, conceptually and technically, larger than any the marketing industry has ever known.
No worthy marketer should need to beg bread.
See why we do what we do at gyro.com.
Follow Rick on Twitter @MrBtoB.
- The True Purpose of the Board
- Purpose: The Search for Strategic Alignment
- The Return in HR from Purpose
- Purpose-Led Planning & Strategy Execution
- An Interview with Nikos
- Using Purpose to Drive Innovation
- Thinking on Purpose
- Purpose: The Starting Point of Great Leadership
- The Search for Purpose
- Four Routes to Success
- Purposeful Leadership