Brand Your Brand Through Actions Not Advertising

Today’s guest blogger is Denise Lee Yohn, a leading authority on building and positioning exceptional brands. Denise is the author of the bestselling book What Great Brands Do:  The Seven Brand-Building Principles that Separate the Best from the Rest.  Read more by Denise at

If you’re investing time and money into branding strategies that don’t seem to be making a difference, you’re not alone. Most business leaders are frustrated by the lack of return they’re seeing on their advertising dollars. And yet some companies enjoy rapid growth and success with minuscule marketing budgets.  What are the leaders at these organizations doing that so you should also do?

Great brands consider their brands as verbs, not nouns. They don’t use their brands simply as external images promoted through advertising and communications. Instead, they use their brands to shape:

  • the internal culture they cultivate — using a purpose and values to inspire employees and customers alike
  • the core operations they run — creating customer relationships that are meaningful, valuable, and sustainable
  • the customer experiences they deliver — making differentiating and emotional connections with customers

They conceive of and use their brands as what they do and how they do it.

This means that the stewards of the brand don’t reside in the marketing or advertising department; they’re at the highest levels of the organization.  These leaders ensure their organization delivers the brand identity and core values through everything they do, every day, all day. They recognize that brands are built through actions, not advertising.

When you use your brand as the central organizing and operating idea of your company, it makes it easy for everyone who works on your brand — from your executive team to frontline employees to business partners — to know how to nurture and reinforce it because everyone shares a common understanding of the value you’re creating.  It makes it clear what to do and what not to do, so no one wastes time, money, and resources on things that don’t align with and contribute to that value.

By shifting your concept of brand from noun to verb, you also allow for constant evolution. When you think of your brand not as an identity to promote but as an instrument that you fuels, aligns, and guides everything your company does, your brand values and attributes serve as inspiration for innovation into new markets, new offerings, and new categories.

In this day and age where nearly perfect, ubiquitous information allows buyers to predict quite accurately the experienced quality of products and services, people today rely less on advertising and promises of quality and more on the opinions of experts and other consumers.  People no longer need a creative campaign or an attractive message to help them decide which product to buy.  The influence of brands on purchase decisions seems to have diminished.

But this doesn’t mean that brands have become less important.  Ask the executives at Starbucks, IBM, Apple, or IKEA.  The brands at these companies remain integral to their success because they develop and use their brands as more than mere messages.

You can build your brand the way great brands when if embrace the concept of operating your business based on your brand.

To learn more about building a great brand, join us for our Soundview Live webinar with Denise Lee Yohn: What Great Brands Do.

The Power of Branding

Daymond John epitomizes the rags-to-riches, American-dream story.

An entrepreneur in every sense of the word, Daymond John has come a long way from taking out a $100,000 mortgage on his mother’s house and moving his operation into the basement. John is CEO and Founder of FUBU, a much-celebrated global lifestyle brand, and a pioneer in the fashion industry with over $6 billion in product sales. He is an award-winning entrepreneur, and he has received over 35 awards including the Brandweek Marketer of the Year, Advertising Age Marketing 1000 Award for Outstanding Ad Campaign, and Ernst & Young’s New York Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

John also provides the means for others to find success through the Shark Tank show, The Daymond John Center for Entrepreneurship and through his two best-selling books. And what is John’s message – that you are the brand you build.

Drawing on his own experiences on the cutting edge of the fashion business, as well as on his hard-won insights developed as a sought-after marketing consultant to global trendsetters and taste-makers, John maintains that branding relationships have now seeped into every aspect of our lives, and that in order to survive and thrive in the marketplace consumers and aspiring professionals need to understand and nurture those relationships.

But don’t take my word for it. Join us on May 14th for our Soundview Live webinar with Daymond John entitled The Power of Branding. At this event you will hear John’s story and the entrepreneurial principles he has learned and developed. And you’ll have the opportunity to ask him your questions during the webinar.


How to Create Strong Relationships with Consumers

Romancing the Brand. It sounds like the sequel to Romancing the Stone, the movie. But actually it’s a new book by author Tim Halloran. Here is how he begins the book.

“It wasn’t a particularly dramatic moment. The eight women sat around the overflowing table of colored cans and bottles of soft drinks. They has just completed what we call a ‘sorting’ exercise, in which participants arranged soft drink brands in groups based on some organizing principle that they were to develop themselves. I don’t remember how they organized the forty-plus brands that day, but what happened next stuck with me. A petite woman in her late twenties, picked up one of the cans and said to the focus group moderator, ‘I drink eight of these a day. It is always with me, no matter what happens. I was there when my boss gave me my promotion last week. It was at my side two months ago when my cat died. It got me through it. I start and end my day with it. It’s never let me down. I can always count on it. To sum it up, it’s my boyfriend . . . Diet Coke.’”

Wouldn’t we all like to have this kind of loyalty from our customers? They are engaging in a rich, complex, ever-changing relationship, and they’ll stay loyal, resisting marketing gimmicks from competitors and influencing others to try the brand they love.

Halloran reveals what it takes to make consumers fall in love with your brand. Drawing on exclusive, in-depth interviews with managers of some of the world’s most iconic brands, he arms you with an arsenal of classic and emerging marketing tools—such as benefit laddering and word-of-mouth marketing—that make best-in-class brands so successful.

We’ve invited Tim Halloran to join us on April 30th to reveal to us How to Create Strong Relationships with Consumers. This Soundview Live webinar with give you the chance to learn first-hand about these emerging marketing tools, and to ask your most challenging questions. Join us for the sequel and bring your popcorn.

How to Promote Yourself and Your Work

With the proliferation of social media and online marketing, it has become a difficult challenge to make a name for yourself among the millions of people screaming for attention. How do you establish and grow your personal brand above this noise?

Rob Eagar is one of those individuals who has developed a strategy for being heard above the noise. Rob founded his consulting practice, WildFire Marketing, in 2007 and has attracted a diverse range of clients including businesses, non-profits, and bestselling authors. He’s trained over 400 authors and consulted with respected publishing houses, including Zondervan (HarperCollins), Howard (Simon & Schuster), Moody, Barbour, and Harvest House. Plus, he’s worked with well-known non-profits, such as Growing Leaders, Campus Crusade, Proverbs 31 Ministries, and Hearts at Home.

Rob’s background includes over 10 years’ experience as a regional and national sales manager, public speaking for over 10 years to more than 35,000 people at over 180 events, and generating a consistent, six-figure income as a self-publishing entrepreneur from his first book, Dating with Pure Passion. His national media appearances include interviews on the CBS Early Show, CNN Radio, and the Los Angeles Times. He has a degree in marketing from Auburn University.

Rob is especially focused on helping authors, but his principles apply to anyone trying to make a name for themselves. Here’s a taste of what you’ll learn at this webinar:

  • Sell more books by driving readers to your website and retailers.
  • Secure more media interviews and speaking engagements.
  • Connect with key influencers who will spread word of mouth.
  • Create raving fans via social media that buzz about your book.
  • Build an author brand that makes you stand out from the crowd.

If you would like to tap into Rob’s expertise to grow your own brand, then join us on March 20th for our Soundview Live webinar entitled How to Create a Marketing Wildfire. Rob will explain how to use the best promotional methods available to build your brand, sell your products and services, and stand out from the crowd. You will also have the opportunity to ask Rob questions during the webinar.

Building Brand Loyalty

People everywhere describe their relationships with brands of all kinds in deeply personal ways—we hate our banks, love our smartphones, and think the cable company is out to get us. What’s actually going on in our brains when we make these judgments?

Through their original research, customer loyalty expert Chris Malone and social psychologist Susan Fiske found that we relate to companies, brands, and even inanimate products in the same way that we naturally perceive, judge, and behave toward one another.

Early humans developed a kind of genius for making two specific kinds of quick judgments: What are the intentions of other people toward me? And how capable are they of carrying out those intentions? Social psychologists call these two categories of perception warmth and competence, and they drive most of our emotions and behavior toward other people—and in today’s modern world, toward businesses too. As a result, we become devoted to certain companies, brands, even products, but we also have high expectations for loyalty from them in return.

We’ve invited Chris Malone to join us for our Soundview Live webinar on March 11th. Join us for How We Relate to People, Products & Companies to learn:

•             How the social psychology concepts of “warmth” and “competence” apply to the way we perceive and relate to companies and brands.

•             From in-depth analyses of companies such as Hershey’s, Domino’s, Lululemon, Zappos, Amazon, Chobani, Sprint, and more.

•             How and why we make the choices we do.

•             What it takes for companies and brands to earn and keep our loyalty in the digital age.

Make sure to bring your questions for Chris, to post during the webinar for him to answer, and invite the rest of your department or team to join you.

Strategies for Building Your Company’s Most Valuable Asset


Winning Back the Public’s Trust in Business

The rise and fall of Aaron Beam, the former CFO of heath care giant HealthSouth who served prison time for accounting fraud, might not be as well known as the legendary wrongdoing of Enron’s Jeffrey Skilling or WorldCom’s Bernard Ebbers. Yet his story – helping company co-founder Richard Scrushy build it up into a multi-million dollar corporation, then “cooking the books” so that he and Scrushy, whose wealth was based on the stock value of the company, could continue raking in the millions – is typical of the ongoing scandals of the past two decades that have destroyed much of the public’s trust in business. Today, corporations are refocused on regaining the trust of stakeholders and the general public, with the help of corporate organizational trust consultants and thought leaders such as Barbara Brooks Kimmel, the editor of Trust Inc.: Strategies for Building Your Company’s Most Valuable Asset. Kimmel is Executive Director of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World (TAA-TAW).

In Trust Inc., Kimmel has gathered more than 30 other consultants, authors and academics to explore the many facets of this subject. The contributing chapters cover a wide variety of topics, from how a village in Africa exemplifies the power and potential of economic trust, to the emotional components of trust, to the importance of moving from corporate social responsibility to a more strategic and committed corporate social innovation. There are a number of to-do lists and guidelines that reinforce the messages of the contributors.

Randy Conley of the Ken Blanchard Companies, for example, shares the organization’s ABCD Trust Model. Specifically, leaders who want to be trustworthy must be:

Able. People will trust leaders with experience and expertise but also want to see results.

Believable. Trustworthy leaders demonstrate integrity, treat people fairly, and always walk the talk.

Connected. This means taking a sincere interest in people and being willing to be openly sharing information about themselves and the company.

Dependable. People must know that their leaders are going to do what they say they will and follow through on their commitments.

Contributors Bob Vanourek, a former CEO, and Gregg Vanourek, a professor at the Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship, describe the trust responsibilities of all the stewards of a company, including CEOs who must hire and promote trustworthy officers, develop processes to monitor trustworthy behavior, lead the board and senior management on the development of shared purpose, values and vision, get rid of toxic employees, and keep their ego under control.

The Inspiration

Many of the stories in Trust Inc. emphasize the role that empathy plays in building trust. Patricia Aburdene, co-author of the bestseller Megatrends 2000, tells the story of Greg Merten, former vice-president of Hewlett Packard who managed HP’s multi-billion dollar inkjet business. Merten attributes his success to the inspiration of his son, Scott, who died tragically at age 16. Merten was once a relentless, no-holds-barred, results-driven executive. Scott, Merton told Aburdene, was “a real people person” whose example “inspired me to get better at relationships.” He started blocking off a full day monthly for his staff to meet and focus on relationships.

In her contribution, consultant Linda Locke notes that trust is about emotions and that an exclusively rational strategy is not the best way to restore trust.

Trust Inc. is a valuable and diverse overview of a topic that should be on the front burner of every company hoping to rebuild the public’s trust in business.

How to Combine Story and Action to Transform Your Business



Why do we choose the clothes we wear, buy the cars we buy, choose the friends we hang out with or our jobs? According to strategy consultant Ty Montague, everything we do, every action we take is part of our metastory. A metastory is different from a traditional story because it is not told; it is done. “Storydoing,” in Montague’s terms, is creating your true story through your actions. A business will have a metastory as well, and in his book True Story, Montague explains how businesses can use the concept of the metastory to define or create their brands and strategies.

Discovering the Four Truths

To develop its metastory, Montague writes, a business must explore and understand four key truths about itself:

The truth about the participants. This is the truth about the people who are affected by what the business does. They can include customers, employees, suppliers, shareholders and even society at large. For example, a retailer called Stylebox (a fictional name) filled its stores with a huge number of unbranded generic products. When the company developed the metastory of its typical customer – a mother with a household income of $40,000 a year who was working hard because she aspired to better things for her family – it realized, Montague writes, that the unattractive generic products mainly emphasized to customers that they couldn’t afford the real thing. Stylebox developed a more positive relationship with its customers, reconfiguring its generic offering with a visible and attractive brand name and more selective products.

The truth about the protagonist. This is the key truth of the business itself. Montague describes how, to develop its strategy and its brand, the new digital-driven education division of News Corporation had to understand its core truth as a protagonist: It was an optimistic new player in education that was outside the traditional educational battle lines of status quo unions and crusading reformers battling those unions. Amplify, as the division was branded, is an advocate for a “third way” toward its vision of an education system with happy teachers, happy parents and happy students.

The truth about the stage. This is the truth about the context in which the business operates. Spike TV, for example, was based on the traditional he-man identity and featured scantily clad women, car crashes and wrestling. This stereotype was outdated in a world in which women drove big trucks and watched Ice Road Truckers (on another channel), and many men took the stay-at-home role in the family. The truth about the stage had completely changed from the past, and it was up to Spike TV to change with it.

The truth about the quest. This is the truth about the overall purpose – beyond making a buck – of the company. The Shaklee Corporation stagnated after its founder, a pioneer of the nutritional supplement industry, had died. The company came back to life when it modernized its quest to use technology to help people take the first steps to health and keep them on the path.

No one truth is the linchpin on which a strategy or brand metastory is built. In the examples above, one truth is highlighted, but all four truths were involved in paving the way for change and success.

True Story offers a concise yet innovative framework for identifying the defining elements of your business and for using this to build the metastory that will capture the attention and loyalty of your customers.

Transforming Business at the Intersection of Marketing and Technology



In the past, marketing and technology were considered two vastly different functions. Nothing could be more different today, argue Bob Lord and Ray Velez, CEO and chief technology officer (CTO), respectively, of the global digital marketing group Razorfish. Marketing is about creating a customer experience, the authors write. And in today’s world of customers enabled by the Internet and the smartphone to be both engaged and demanding, creating a customer experience requires what the authors call the “convergence” of the disciplines and skills related to both marketing and technology.

More specifically, convergence is the coming together of media, technology and creativity. All three of these areas have dramatically changed in the past few decades, the authors write. Media is not about one-way communication such as TV ads, but about engaging with customers who control your brand’s reputation. Technology is not about infrastructure, but about identifying customer segments and helping to tell the stories that will bring them to the brand. And creativity is no longer a topdown process. Today, creativity comes from everywhere, including your customers.

It’s All About the Customer

One of the core themes of Converge is that business has never been more customer-driven than it is today. In this new customer-centric world, marketing, the authors write, “is no longer about throwing a message out into the world and hoping that you interrupt the right person at the right time. Marketing has become about service and utility, and much of it is technology enabled.” In other words, successful marketing requires using technology to help customers achieve their goals.

This is a lesson that Jeff Bezos and Amazon understood from day one, and technology-driven features such as their recommendation systems and readers’ reviews are the reason that no company – not even Barnes and Noble – has been able to knock the pioneer of online book sales off its perch. Customer-centricity is the first of the authors’ five principles of convergence that are required for success. The other four are:

  • Reject silos. Collaboration across functions is an absolute prerequisite for      convergence.
  • Act like a startup. Go for cheap, fast and flexible.
  • Adopt a cross-disciplinary mindset. “Get a wide variety of expertise around the      table,” write the authors.
  • Think of your brand as a service. You’re not selling stuff; you’re fulfilling a need.

Applying the Buzz Words

Much of the terminology covered in this text – such as cloud computing and data-mining – will be familiar. Through its explanations and examples, however, Converge transforms these often vague buzzwords into meaningful concepts with clear applications. Cloud computing, for example, allows companies that don’t have the resources of an Amazon to replicate Amazon’s data processing at a much lower cost than through traditional servers.

How to make the most of big data, what ubiquitous computing means to your company and its clients, and how to change your processes to take full advantage of today’s “marketing eco-system” are just a few of the critical business topics covered in Converge. Ending each chapter with a convergence to-do list called “Convergence Catalysts,” the authors – consultants responsible for results and not white papers – have produced a clearly written guide to marketing in the 21st century directly aimed at the business practitioner.

Building Your Brand to See Sales Soar

Next week we’re offering you an opportunity to develop both your personal brand and your sales skills. We’re hosting two excellent webinars and it’s my guess that one plays well into the other. Before you can really be at the top of your game in sales, you need to know who you are, what is really meaningful to you and is your point of motivation. By developing your personal brand, you are then better prepared to pursue your job, whether it’s in sales or not.

Building Brand [You] with Cyndee Woolley

Your brand is a summary of every customer’s experience with you, and his or her emotional reaction to that experience. This is true of a person as well as a company.

In this Soundview Live webinar, Building Brand [You], Cyndee Woolley will help you set the direction in your life by establishing goals and priorities that are meaningful to you. You will live as the person you want to be and express that [You] authentically, intentionally, consistently, confidently, in every way possible.

The Proven Method for Reaching Decision Makers with Dave & Marhnelle Hibbard

It’s time to stop wasting valuable time using the by-the-numbers-plus-luck method–a grueling process that causes attrition and unethical dialing. In this Soundview Live webinar, The Proven Method for Reaching Decision Makers, David & Marhnelle Hibbard will present SOAR Selling, a solution to this critical problem by revealing a proven way for any salesperson to make fewer calls, reach more decision makers, and, most important, get more appointments.

The authors have tested the SOAR (Surge of Accelerating Revenue) Selling formula on thousands of live sales calls throughout key global markets. The results are staggering. According to the authors’ client research, SOAR is astonishingly effective.

Just a reminder – even if you don’t have time to attend both events next week, register for them anyway. You’ll receive an email after each event which will include a link to the replay. Then you can listen at your convenience.

Connecting with Customers for Long-Term Growth

If you find it challenging to stand out from the crowd in this busy marketplace, we may have an answer for your dilemma. Next week is another 2-webinar week where our Soundview Live webinars will be focused on reaching customers and building your brand with measurable results.

Leveraging Branding for Long-Term Growth with Barbara Kahn

Today, brands have become even more important than the products they represent: their stories travel quickly through social media and the Internet and across countries and cultures. A brand must be elastic enough to allow for category and product-line extensions, flexible enough to change with dynamic market conditions, consistent enough so that consumers won’t be confused, and focused enough to provide clear differentiation from the competition.

In this Soundview Live webinar, Leveraging Branding for Long-Term Growth, Barbara Kahn brings brand management into the 21st century, addressing how branding contributes to the purchase process. You’ll hear stories about how Coca-Cola, The Estée Lauder Companies Inc., Marriott, Apple, Starbucks, Campbell Soup Company, Southwest Airlines, and celebrities like Lady Gaga are leveraging their brands.

How Authentic Customer Connections Drive Superior Results with Bob Garfield & Doug Levy

If you’re still selling goods and services by blanketing the world with advertising, trying to persuade or entertain or flatter consumers into submission, you are doing things all wrong.

In this Soundview Live webinar, How Authentic Customer Connections Drive Superior Results, Bob Garfield and Doug Levy will demonstrate that the currency of the Relationship Era is not awareness, or even quality; it is authenticity. They will describe the four forces that have disrupted the status quo and the how companies need to transform themselves by focusing all relationships around their core purpose.

In just two hours you will have the tools you need to develop a strategy for growth while knowing what mistakes to avoid. And as always, you can fill a conference room with colleagues using one registration. We hope you’ll join us next week.