How to Stay on Brand

By Retired Chief Marketing Officer of Kohl’s Department Stores, Julie Gardner

Every Journey requires some kind of compass—a sense of where one is headed and an assurance that one is on the right path.

This book is, in a word, a compass.

As a marketer, keeping the brand that I steward on track is perhaps the most important and difficult challenge by face daily. The rate of speed at which the world is changing require significant insights, strategies, and nimbleness. Today’s environment can be a destroyer of brands if one is not constantly in tune with a customer.

Having a brand model based on insights into one’s customers is invaluable. Even better is having a customer-focused model that is dimensionalized so that one can use it as a guide to assess potential scenarios and strategies, allowing for a fluid yet disciplined approach that will grow the brand instead of diluting it.

BJ’s Brand Modeling process provides a deep understanding of the passion that one’s best customers have for the brands they love. This understanding guides the strategies and dialogue within the organization with confidence and alignment that expedites decisions and provides the filter through which decisions are made and positive results are achieved.

I’ve been a marketer on the agency and client-side for more than 20 years. There are two key brand killers that are always at your doorstep: apathy and ideation. You can probably understand why apathy kills a brand (through lack of energy), but you may wonder why I say that ideas can also kill a brand. After all, we are in the business of creating ideas, aren’t we? The problem is that we often fall in love with ideas without properly evaluating whether these ideas are right for the brand. And since the customer defines a brand, ultimately the question that we must ask is, “is it right for our best customers—our brand lovers?” To answer this question successfully, you must first understand the psychological makeup of your best customers. A customer-centric Brand Model helps you do just that.

Marketing is a delicate combination of art and science. The art is a beautiful flow of intangible emotions that connects brands and customers in a way that speaks to the customer’s heart. The science of marketing can be elusive. A solid Brand Model uses customer insights to identify a brand’s various dimensions based on evidence and facts. These verifiable data are undeniably insightful not only for the marketer, but for the entire organization, and they keep an organization from apathy and from falling in love with ideas that don’t fit the brand.

Peter Drucker said that the best way to predict the future is to create it. I believe that the best way to predict the future of your brand is to acquire an in-depth understanding of your best customers and to use that knowledge to predict the future. Your best customers know the most about your brand; they love you and hold you to high standards. Understanding that love and using it to grow more customers is what BJ’s Brand Modeling process is designed to do.

In Customers First, BJ makes a compelling case not only for Brand Modeling, but for the best approach to building a model, creating a strong and sustainable compass not only for marketers, but for the entire organization as well.

(This post is an excerpt from our book Customers First: Dominate Your Market by Winning Them Over Where It Counts the Most.)

Previous Post Next Post