Friday, July 4, 2008

Recognition Marketing - Avoid The Bland Leading The Brand

Drive Mediocrity From Your Enterprise - Pick The Right Leaders

By David Miranda

In a marketplace of uber-choice, consumers need to be given a clear reason to buy your brand over all alternatives. It is the essence of a successful marketing strategy. The inability to do this, puts considerable downward pressure on price as the "tipping point" for preference. This ultimately commoditizes the brand. This, generally, does not happen by design, but by default.

How does this occur and why does it occur so frequently in the marketplace? The simple answer is mediocrity, i.e. being risk-averse; being a "me-too" brand. This occurs when decision makers reward the status quo versus celebrating innovation. In medicore environments, the bland flourish while the innovators languish or jump ship. The problem lies in picking the wrong leaders.

It is almost impossible for a great idea to have upward mobility in an enterprise of mediocre leadership. Companies continually make the terminal mistake of putting the wrong people in charge of their brands - those that are risk-averse, protectors of the status quo, those more interested in doing things right veruses doing the right things.

Take Apple Inc., for example. Years ago the visionary members of the Apple board decided to replace one of the Apple founders, Steve Jobs, with an Pepsi executive, John Sculley. Sculley ultimately (and unbelievably) fired Mr. Jobs. After miserable results under Mr. Sculley, Apple brought back Mr. Jobs and the rest is history. (iPod, iTunes, iPhone, etc, etc.)

Take Yahoo!. Its board brought in Terry Semel from Time Warner. After being continually out-performed (and out stategized) by Google, Mr Semel was replaced as CEO by one of Yahoo's founders, Jerry Yang.

Take Dell Computers. Once considered a model of innovation, Dell fired its CEO and brought back its founder, Michael Dell to turn around the company's fortunes.

The message is clear. When a company allows the bland to lead the brand, innovation atrophies. This is the case with many companies today in many industries in the U.S. (airlines, automobile manufacturers, computers, retailing, etc.)

Success, today, demands that companies place innovators, risk takers, and those with entrepreneurial thinking in key leadership positions. Business needs innovative marketers to lead the charge.

Just because someone has a lofty title does not make them a great marketer.

The bland should never lead the brand. It's terminal.