Your Brand Reflects Your Leadership

By Gary Clayton

Your brand can be a strong advertisement for your leadership

Your brand can be a strong advertisement for your leadership

How strong is your brand? Will it lead potential customers to your business or potential members to your club? Will it induce current customers to continue to buy – or current members to renew membership in your club? Whether it will says a lot about your leadership.

Your brand delivers a strong message to your customers and prospects as to what they can expect to find in your products, what they can trust and how it will fulfill their needs and desires. Basically, your brand is your leadership message. It helps your customers and prospects decide whether they want to do what you want done (namely, buy your product or service).

Brand strength and leadership strength are often synonymous

The success of your company depends greatly upon the strength of your brand and how it reflects your leadership. For instance, Apple’s brand has been very dependent upon the leadership of Steve Jobs. His record of leadership in product innovation has created an amazingly strong brand loyalty for Apple. At the same time, the financial markets have shown great concern about Apple’s ability to maintain its brand image without Jobs. Will the brand continue to represent strong product leadership without him? And will the company be able to keep its most talented employees if they sense that leadership and the brand are becoming weaker?

A weak brand can be a liability

A weak brand can be a liability, especially if you are in an industry or region where the relationship between salesperson and customer can become strong. Here’s a real example I saw the aftermath of during the 1980’s (let’s call the company “ABC”). ABC, an emerging industry leader, was developing a nationwide chain of welding supply stores and had purchased a string of six stores in the oil patch of Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. Purchasing the stores seemed to make a lot of sense, what could go wrong?

Imagine ABC’s surprise when sales at the six stores dropped over 60% within four months of the takeover. ABC executives didn’t account for three things in their purchase negotiations: (1) they didn’t realize their brand-name was unknown in the oil patch, (2) they didn’t understand the importance of personal relationships in selling to oil service companies in the Southwest, and (3) they forgot to lay a non-compete clause on the former owner of the stores.

Whether you look at the sales, marketing, legal or leadership aspects of this situation, its obvious several folks missed the basics in buying these stores. Let’s just focus at the national brand versus personal relationship situation. Who was the leader in this situation? I guess we really don’t need to discuss it, do we? But would it have been different if it had been, say, a regional manufacturer of replacement windows selling its stores to Andersen or Pella windows? You bet. Some sales would go back to the regional manufacturer based on price, but brand can represent a strong leadership position.

How strong is your brand? How well does it represent your leadership position in your industry and region? Does it add to your ability to attract customers and employees to your leadership? Does your brand help you in negotiating with your suppliers? What do you need to do to make it a leadership advantage for you?

Gary Clayton helps CEOs, executives and other leaders work through current challenges and find paths to greater success in business and life.

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