Book Recommendations, Part Three: Innovation and Branding

 

These books focus on creating more appropriate value for your customers (innovation) and strengthening the customers’ perception of value that they receive from your organization (branding).

Innovation

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs by Carmine Gallo

The Art of Innovation by Tom Kelley

The Innovator’s Solution by Clayton Christensen

Branding

Winning the Story Wars by Jonah Sachs

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

Positioning by Al Ries and Jack Trout

It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For by Roy Spence with Haley Rushing

Brand Feeder Bonus: Get Away from Your Work so You Can Come Back with Better Mental Energy

Ironically, you need to stop working some of the time in order to better understand your brand. When you are away from your work, stay away. Give your brain a rest. When you come back to looking at your brand you can do so with fresh eyes. You might just see something obvious that you never saw before.

Brand Feeder #12: Search for Ways to Improve the Operational Aspect of Delivering Value to Your Customers

A brand is built, or ruined, by an organization’s ability to consistently and efficiently deliver the value it promised would be delivered. Think of Anheuser-Busch InBev, Toyota, and Wal-Mart. They sell an amazing amount of products every year and yet the consistency and efficiency of their operations are remarkable.

Look at the flow of your organization. From the time a customer requests a certain product or service to the time he or she receives that product or service to all the times he or she uses that product or service is there anything that can be done to improve the consistency and quality of the customer’s experience with that product or service? Is there anything that can be done to improve the efficiency with which the value is delivered to the customer? All the marketing in the world doesn’t make a brand strong if the delivery of the promised value is poor.

Brand Feeder #11: Look at Your Schedule and Make Sure Your Efforts Support the Desired Brand

This is the whole point of this section. Are you really feeding your brand every day in some way, or are the hours in your day being eaten up by stuff that won’t enhance your organization’s brand at all? Look at your schedule for the rest of today and tomorrow. What specifically will you do to enhance your organization’s brand? If you don’t have anything on your calendar that is helping the brand, then you better look at what you can take off and what you can put in place to advance your brand in some way. You might decide the one thing you can do today is to let 10 of your friends and family members know more about your company’s products and services. If every employee raved about your company to the people he or she knows outside of work, it could be a tremendous step forward toward strengthening your organization’s brand.

Brand Feeder #10: Provide Free Value, otherwise known as The Santa Approach

One of my favorite movies on branding is Miracle on 34th Street. That’s the one where the Santa at Macy’s tells the moms where they can buy certain toys that aren’t available at Macy’s. In other words, Santa gave away free value and instead of losing customers he actually increased customers for Macy’s because the moms knew they would get good advice on where to find things. He was like an early version of Google, which also gives away tons of information for free and has built an amazing business.

What value that is relevant to your customers can you give away for free? This is important. People love the opportunity to try out an organization before they commit to a paying relationship. Do you have some type of free value on your website so people can gain a sense of what it is like to work with you? Can you put free advice on your website, can you give away free samples of your product, or can you let your customers try your service for free for 30 days?

Brand Feeder #9: Look at Your Advertising from Your Customers’ Point of View

If your company invests in television, newspaper, online, billboard, email, and/or radio advertising, look at this advertising as though you were a customer or a prospective customer. Does the advertising make sense to you? Is it clear how you would be better off as a result of using that product or service? Does it in some way increase your emotional desire to buy from your organization? Be honest with the people responsible for the advertising. In a professional, one-on-one conversation let the person know what your observations were like. Take ownership of your brand and at least express your opinion. Do so with tact and maturity, but let your thoughts be known.

Brand Feeder #8: Send a Personal Touch to a Customer

Rather than wondering what you can do today at work and just filling up your time with busywork, I suggest you pull out a stack of personal note cards and write a handwritten note to 25 customers. If you do that once a quarter, your relationship will be much stronger with each of them. Don’t just write the same thing to each person. Make each note personal and unique.

If you don’t know your customers because of the role you’re in, then write a handwritten note to 25 franchisees or suppliers. The point is you strengthen your organization’s brand when you strengthen your relationship with key people associated with your business.