What You Need to Know About Building a Powerful Company Brand
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Episode 12 Transcript:
Chris Curran: Growth Igniters Radio, Episode 12: What you need to know about building a powerful company brand.
This episode is brought to you by Business Advancement Incorporated, enabling successful leaders and companies to accelerate to their next level of growth. On the web at www.businessadvance.com. Now here’s Pam and Scott.
Pam Harper: Thanks, Chris. Hi, I’m Pam Harper, Founding Partner and CEO of Business Advancement Incorporated. Right across from me is Scott Harper, my business partner and husband. Hi, Scott.
Scott Harper: Hi, Pam. How are you today?
Pam Harper: I am wonderful.
Scott Harper: Terrific. It’s great to be here. Just in case this is your first time listening, we want to let you know the purpose of Growth Igniters Radio is to spark new insights, inspiration, and immediately useful ideas for leaders to take themselves and their companies to the next level of success. So, Pam, what’s up for today?
Pam Harper: How to build a powerful company brand. It seems that these days, almost every executive we speak with has the ambition of creating a very strong company brand, wouldn’t you say?
Scott Harper: Yeah.
Pam Harper: Yet when we think about a powerful company brand, let’s say… what’s come to mind?
Scott Harper: I’m staring at my Macintosh − so, Apple. I Googled this morning, so Google, too.
Pam Harper: Right. These brands and many others that come to our minds immediately do not happen overnight.
Scott Harper: That’s true.
Pam Harper: It takes a lot to build a powerful company brand. That is why we’re fortunate to have Terri Goldstein here with us today to talk about just that. Terri is Chief Creative Officer for the Goldstein Group, and is a marketing strategist with over 2 decades of success in re-staging some of America’s most beloved brands such as Heinz, Foster Grant − my own personal favorite, PAM − and many other cherished brands, which are on her bio. She contributes regularly to such publications as Brandweek and Graphic Design USA. Terri views brands as living, breathing entities, and we’re going to speak with her today about how to extend that thinking to whole companies, as well as to accelerating growth and success.
Scott Harper: That’s great.
Pam Harper: Terri, welcome to Growth Igniters Radio.
Terri Goldstein: Thank you. I’m so excited to be here today.
Pam Harper: We’re excited to have you. Before we go any further, I want to ask you … I love to ask people about their nicknames; you have a very interesting one. It’s called “the 5-second specialist.” How did you get this?
Terri Goldstein: I’m very often known for the importance of making a great first impression, whether that’s a brand on shelf or when somebody calls the company and hears the person on the phone. Those first 5 seconds are crucial to making the right impression so your company can be either hired or your brand can be bought. Hence, “the 5-second specialist”.
Scott Harper: We talked about brands and companies. What are the similarities between product branding and company branding. What are the differences?
Terri Goldstein: A brand is really the embodiment of a company. A brand comes out of a company. A successful brand embodies what the company is all about; how they see themselves, view themselves, how they interact within a company and out − no different than a brand’s representation.
Pam Harper: When we’re looking at a company starting to build their brand or becoming more powerful, I know that you say that being aware of the competitive environment that they’re in is so important. Can you explain a little more about that?
Terri Goldstein: Absolutely. When working on a brand, or working within your own company, it’s always important to be able to take a hard look at yourself. We’ve developed a system in which to do that because we know the hardest thing to do is to truly take the blinders off. A great way to do this is to create a matrix. In the matrix, for a company, I suggest 7 areas. One is to look at yourself and your competitive environment and list who the clients are. Next to that, list your services, your longevity – how long you’ve been in business and how long you’re competitors have been in business – what are your ratings on Google and theirs, what are your social media platforms and theirs, and what is your PR level, what is your thought leadership and what are theirs. By putting these all down in the matrix, it starts to identify where the white space is for you to improve and what the opportunities are, while also creating that competitive landscape that lets you really truly see how you can perform better.
Pam Harper: That makes sense. It takes a lot of awareness to do some of those things that you’re talking about. What about companies that don’t have that ability? What can they do to get that information?
Terri Goldstein: What they can do is, they can certainly interface with their clients and get a report card from them in terms of why they selected them, what they like, what they wish could improve, and perhaps ask them who is their competition, and why they chose them in the first place. But it’s always important to truly understand your competitive environment. If you don’t understand that and identify who your competitors are and take a good look at them, you don’t know for yourself what services to leave behind, what areas to improve, what to reinvent so your company can be the best it can be in the perception value of the clients that it needs to attract and retain.
Pam Harper: That makes a lot of sense, Terri. Could you give us an example? I know you’ve worked on brand identity, bringing some once very revered brands that slumped back to life. How about an example of a company reinvention that you’ve helped with?
Terri Goldstein: Certainly. When reinventing a company, just as I did for Foster Grant, which is a line of sunglasses, it was very important to first understand the culture of the company. For instance, that company had very much of a sales mentality, where they felt whatever we’re going to give to trade is just going to sell. They were always coming to the marketing department reacting: “Trade wants this,” “Trade wants that,” “Trade wants this,” never allowing the marketing department to do the proper analysis, the proper marketing research to really understand and take the discipline to what was right for the client. Going in it’s important to understand the culture, and then build the reason to believe to do things differently, to work more as teams, to team build and give set goals and set timelines in which to go to market. That in itself was a huge transformation for the company, allowing a brand to be built instead of a brand to react.
Pam Harper: That’s quite a story. I want to hear more about it, but we need to take a quick break right now. When we come back, we’ll be talking more with Terri Goldstein about the role of people and culture in building a power of a brand for your company. Stay with us…
Scott Harper: You are listening to Growth Igniters Radio with Pam Harper and Scott Harper, brought to you by Business Advancement Incorporated; enabling successful companies to accelerate to their next level of innovation and growth. If you like what you’re hearing, spread the good word. Go to www.growthignitersradio.com, select episode 12, and use the share links for LinkedIn and Twitter at the top right of the page to tell your social media communities all about us using #GrowthIgniters. Do us a favor; if you rate us and review us on iTunes, we can extend our reach to all the people who can benefit from this series.
Pam Harper: Welcome back to Growth Igniters Radio with Pam Harper − that’s me − and Scott Harper. We’re talking with Terri Goldstein, marketing strategist, Chief Creative Officer for the Goldstein Group, about how to build a powerful brand for your company as a whole, and how that can be a powerful catalyst for success. Terri, tell us how we can find you.
Terri Goldstein: Thank you very much. You can find me at www.tggsmart.com.
Pam Harper: Now, we were getting into a great conversation in our first segment. You were telling us about the importance of culture in determining how to build that company brand. You’ve had a great story. :et’s talk a little bit more about the role of the leader in all of this; I know that you have some very strong views about that. Let’s continue. What do you see? You lead your own highly successful company, which is a brand in its own right. How do you see the role of the leader in building that brand?
Terri Goldstein: Thank you, Pam. That’s a great question. I feel that the leader should hire the right employees that can fill in his or her weak and blind spots, not mirror them. It’s very important as a leader to understand your strengths and your weaknesses and to find people that can fill those in to make a complete, robust team. I know that successful companies are all about the people behind them. If you believe yourself to be a 10, hire 12s; hire people that do things that are better than you, and take your ego right out of that picture.
Pam Harper: That’s easier said than done. How do you do that? How do you do that, I should say?
Terri Goldstein: I know that my company thrives on the strength of us together. I’m the first to say “I’m not the right person to answer that, but I have the perfect expert on my team that can,” because, again, it’s my role as a business leader and owner to fulfill the needs and wants and aspirations of my team. One person cannot be all things to all people.
Pam Harper: Definitely not.
Scott Harper: You have a story about the embodiment of that. Perhaps your own personal story…
Terri Goldstein: Yes, I actually do. That when I was very young, I was diagnosed with dyslexia, and I always knew it was my gift. No, I never read backwards or saw a lot of letters or words exploding around − I’m an avid reader. But, like so many famous people before me − Albert Einstein, John Lennon, Steve Jobs − I see everything in a highly visual realm. I sense my world with what I call my “associative emotional radar.” As a result, I have truly honed the ability to see things that others fail to see. As a result, I know it’s very important − and I learned this very early on in the ad agency world − to surround myself with people that see things differently. They’re incredible writers, they’re incredible PhD scientists, because they have strengths that I do not have. I, again, have the ability to see things that others fail to see.
When I was early on in my ad strategy campaign career, working in an ad agency, I would create ads and I would go to the head of that agency, they would say, “Terri, this is beautiful” − I started out as a designer − “but where are the words?” I would say, “You don’t need the words to get my main point across. You understand what I’m saying quickly, don’t you?” They would say, “You’re absolutely right. I do.” That’s how I learned the strength of living into your strengths and finding people that could really support your weaknesses to make that complete total picture.
Pam Harper: Interesting. We’re very much on board with you on that. I think that there is real strength when you can diversify. It requires a leader who’s very clear about where their talents are, just like you are, and also being clear about what talent you need in order to make that company grow.
Scott Harper: Then to have a cohesive message that goes out from the top throughout the organization so that everybody can get on board, each with their own special talents and view points and perspectives, so that you have a really active interaction that can build that unified brand that goes out to the world and represents the company.
Terri Goldstein: Yes.
Pam Harper: Do you find, Terri, that when you’re working with companies, that they start taking in their messages in new ways, especially as your team works with them to create a different message about a brand?
Terri Goldstein: Yes, very much so. We bring in to a company the key message point of acceptance; acceptance and team work, accepting ourselves, accepting our team mates, and accepting our clients and their needs and their differences. Once we learn to embrace acceptance, team building can really start to happen. We usually come in and develop a mantra for that company, a mantra for that brand that starts to set the guiding principle and the platform of all activity from that point forward.
Pam Harper: Can we just step in for a moment? When you say a mantra,− can you give an example of what a mantra is?
Terri Goldstein: Certainly. A mantra that I use quite often that could be a blanket mantra is that “successful companies are always about the people behind them.” In this way, Pam, if someone is perhaps not being open-minded or perhaps being negative to their team workers, we bring back the mantra and say, “This is our mantra. We’ve all signed off to it, literally. We’ve all agreed to it. The way that you’re behaving, I want to know, does that support the mantra and what you agree to support?” It’s always coming back to that foundation, that understanding.
Scott Harper: Again, that unifying idea of what we’re about and how we do things.
Pam Harper: It becomes short-hand almost, in a sense. It’s a short message; People can get it quickly. I like that.
With that, we’re going to take a quick break, another quick break. When we come back, we’ll be talking more with Terri Goldstein about how to build a powerful brand for your company. Stay with us.
Scott Harper: You’re listening to Growth Igniters Radio with Pam and Harper and Scott Harper, brought to you by Business Advancement Incorporated. On the web at www.businessadvance.com. If you subscribe to Growth Igniters Community by clicking the Join Our Community button at www.growthignitersradio.com, we’ll be able to send you weekly updates to help you get more value from each episode. They’ll give you easy access to each new episode’s play button, show notes, guest bios, and other information and links to resources mentioned in the episode.
Pam Harper: Welcome back to Growth Igniters Radio with Pam Harper and Scott Harper. Over the last 2 segments, we’ve been talking with marketing strategist Terri Goldstein, Chief Creative Officer for the Goldstein Group, about how to establish a powerful brand for your company. We’ve learned about how she came to be known as the 5-second specialist. We’ve learned a lot about culture and the role that culture has in creating that strong company brand, and even a quick way to communicate that culture. Now it’s time to look at some specifics about how to make it happen for those of you listening in your companies. Before we do − Terri, can you give us that website again so people can find your company?
Terri Goldstein: Certainly. I’d love to. It’s www.tggsmart.com.
Pam Harper: Thanks, Terri. Let’s get specific. If we’re trying to make our company the number one brand out there, as everybody who’s listening is, what are some specific things that we can do immediately after we’re done listening today?
Terri Goldstein: Great question, Pam. First, create your SWOT analysis of your competitors: their strengths, their weakness, their opportunities, and how you feel they may be threats to your company.
Next, develop for your company a saying of, “My company does, what… better than anyone else.” It’s that what that you have to discover. What is it that your company can offer that other companies cannot?
Next, move in to what is your unique selling proposition? You know, what it is that you offer that your competitor does not, and how you uniquely deliver that offering or that need.
Last, how you can substantiate that, how you can give the client referrals and testimonials for people to speak to your clientele and understand what truly sets you apart, and what is your company’s reason to believe − why they should hire you over your competitors.
Scott Harper: Okay, Terri. Good advice. One of the things that we’ve noticed in various companies is sometimes people, especially at the top of the company, get very attached to their brand as it used to be − “This is what our brand is. This is how we do things,” and someone who says, “We should change that,” gets ignored or shut down or resisted. Or it may not be the leaders who have that resistance; it may be other people in the company, or even customers out there in the world. Have you ever seen that? If so, what do you do about it if you’re trying to revive somebody’s brand?
Terri Goldstein: Great question. It’s hard to be your own change agents. Because of that, we need to be able to take the blinders off. It can result in hiring an outside consultant to come in and interview all of our people openly and ask them questions about what it is that your employees really do well and what it is that you don’t do well. That person can report back into the company leadership without identifying the different employees. That can work very, very well. Another method is where the leadership themselves interviews their employees in a very open, candid manner and says, “I want to get better. I want to know, from your perspective, what are my strengths, what are my weaknesses? What could this company be doing differently? What do you wish we were doing differently to make your job easier and so you could perform better?” It’s called getting in the trenches. It makes a big difference.
Pam Harper: Getting in the trenches; it does. Now, Terri, do you believe that this is best done when you’re talking with others, or can surveys play a role on this, too, or not so much?
Terri Goldstein: I believe there’s nothing better than a human interaction. It’s always about what they’re not saying that either consultant or yourself can feel intuitive or see in their eyes. I feel interpersonal relationships go better with the person-person interface.
Pam Harper: That’s true. There’s a lot more interaction. We all tend to live in this world where we’re looking for the quick, easy response. What you’re saying is it’s not a quick, easy response, but highly worthwhile when you do it the right way.
Scott Harper: It takes a real skill to establish the trust if you’re having that person-person interaction to make the space or the opening where people feel comfortable in sharing things, perhaps, that they think you may not want to hear, or they may not feel comfortable bringing out. Trust building is extraordinarily critical in that.
Pam Harper: It’s true. There are a lot of times where there are surprises − I would imagine you’ve seen. We know we have, but what about you?
Terri Goldstein: Oh, yes. This must be done on 2 levels. First, always first, with your employees, with the people that best support you day-to-day. Take that information. Next, take your top 5 clients out to dinner one at a time. We’re so used to taking our clients to dinner or out for lunch and talking with them about ourselves, about our company and how we can sell it more. No. Turn the table. You want to talk about what do they think about you, what do they think about your company? Are they happy? How have they been serviced? Are they fulfilled? What could you be doing better? And listen.
Pam Harper: That is absolutely the truth. There’s so much information. People are impressed when the listening goes on. You’re creating a stronger brand just for doing that, aren’t you?
Terri Goldstein: Very much so.
Scott Harper: Establishing a brand as a listening company is one of the principles that, when we were in corporate, we termed consumer insight, or customer insight. It’s part of design thinking; it is so important to get that, and to ask questions in different ways, because each time you ask a question in a different way or lead someone into a different conversation, you get new insights. Then you have to put it all together in − you’re a visual person, Terri − that puzzle that comes together. All the pieces fit.
Pam Harper: That’s reason to look at people with the skill of Terri’s group.
Scott Harper: That’s true.
Terri Goldstein: I have also found at companies, at times that we go into them, they don’t understand the value at times of making the workplace very pleasant. It doesn’t take a lot of money. It can be adding some color on the walls, getting some comfortable chairs for the people to sit on, finding out that they’re continuously frustrated, there’s nothing to eat in the refrigerator, there’s no snacks. It can take a budget of $1000 at a company to make the company feel better for the employees. That goes a long ways.
Pam Harper: In creating the powerful brand?
Terri Goldstein: Creating a powerful brand, because the brand is an embodiment of the people behind it. The brand’s temperature results in the energy that the people are able to put into the brand.
Scott Harper: That makes sense. The brand’s momentum results from the energy that people put in.
Terri Goldstein: Yes.
Pam Harper: This has been very illuminating. Terri, can you give us some last thoughts before we go?
Terri Goldstein: Certainly. I’d love to. As we know − and this has been a main theme of this discussion − it’s very hard to look at ourselves, just like it’s very hard to write our own resume. But we’re certainly good at giving others advice; that’s just human nature. Now it’s time to sit back and give ourselves advice by getting highly informed by our employees, our clients, and our competitive activity. Doing that company self-assessment can truly help you develop your unique selling proposition and your company’s reason to believe.
Pam Harper: Thank you so very much for being our guest on today’s Growth Igniters Radio.
If you have questions related to today’s episode or any episode, go to “Open a Conversation With Us” at the bottom of the episode page. To find out who our guest will be next Wednesday, go to www.growthignitersradio.com and look in the sidebar for a schedule of upcoming episodes over the next few weeks.
Scott Harper: Thanks for listening to Growth Igniters Radio with Pam Harper and Scott Harper. To check out resources related to today’s conversation, share on social media, and subscribe to the podcast series on iTunes or Stitcher, go to Www.growthignitersradio.com and select episode 12.
Pam Harper: Until next time. This is Pam Harper …
Scott Harper: And Scott Harper.
Pam Harper: Wishing you continued success, and leaving you with this question to discuss with your team …
Scott Harper: What’s your company’s brand in terms of its mythos and its reason to believe? What are you going to do to take it to the next level?