Every month I am planning to write an article about one of the subjects discussed in the CEO Roundtable groups. The intent of this is to give readers interested in the program some idea of the types of topics and the conversations they generate within the groups. The meetings are confidential and I am not going to share any details about the conversation or what individual members think about specific items. What I am trying to capture is an essence of what was discussed and some the various and conflicting perspectives. Where it is appropriate, as it is this month, I will give credit to the discussion leader.
This month one of the San Luis Obispo Roundtables discussed the topic of Branding and the discussion lead was Dave Cox from Barnett Cox & Associates. Dave is a long time member of this group and an expert in Marketing. The discussion kicked off with a small presentation on the basics of branding but then the conversation became more interesting because what has worked well for some businesses had been let’s say more challenging for others.
My observation of this area is that strategies have to change depending on several variables. The size of the company and the size of the market they are trying to create a brand within are clearly a challenge. While a small or mid-sized business can often afford to build a brand in the local market building a national brand challenges all but the biggest businesses. This results in a strategy of either lower frequency broad promotion or isolating niches that you can dominate. It has been my observation over the years that when trying to solve a business problem like branding the business has two assets that typically restrain their plan. Those assets are cash and creativity and it is clear that members agree it is best to spend your creativity before you throw cash at the problem.
One area of general agreement was that a consistent approach to the market is the most likely to win in the long run. Successful brands know what they stand for and they stay true to that messaging over time. It is okay if that evolves over time but general consensus is that you will tire of your brand long before the market will even recognize what it stands for.
Topics for next month include Succession Planning, Compensation & Reviews, Promotion & Advertising, and Employee Incentives.