Kevin Clark Says: “Be Intentional”

Topic: Be intentional

Kevin Clark: “Be intentional” is a very short statement that sums up one of the most important things I think that people need to understand about branding and customer experience. You need to be fully connected to the intent of the business. The business needs to know why we're here, what we do, and why that's important. And then once you have that and you're fully grounded in the business's strategy and intention, now you have the basis to make a promise. A promise is exactly what a brand is: it's a very short thought about what people believe and what they expect from a brand. And then that finally needs to be connected to the experience that's actually delivered. So intention connected to promise connected to what the business actually does, creates the strength of very, very strong and enduring brands. And we find that those that are doing this extremely well are the ones that are growing fastest on the Interbrand survey that's published annually.

My former employer, IBM, is doing an extremely good job of this. It's reflected in both their financial performance and the ability to continue to grow and maintain that growth even during this kind of economy. It's reflected in the stock price. I think that one of the companies that people generally look to as a customer-based franchise that's very good with design, which is regularly cited, is Apple. Apple is something that is very, very well thought of and they have an extremely good grasp of how to serve their customers and do that extremely well across a number of different categories. I might finally mention a company in the business-to-business category like Caterpillar, which makes heavy industrial equipment around the world has extremely good reputation with its customers in its ability to serve them, not only at the front end, but when those devices and heavy equipment needs service, they provide an extremely high level of service, and they talk about being able to keep that equipment running better than anyone else in their category.

Topic: The Nokia Effect

Kevin Clark: If you look at the top ten brands around the world, eight are based here in North America, one is in Japan, and then one is in Europe. And the single European brand is Nokia. Nokia was basically a dry goods and forestry products company in its early era, and it decided it wanted to grow and go into some areas that are new. And as Nokia became a global telecommunications presence, mostly for customers who were buying wireless handsets around the world, that single company put the country of Finland and its culture on the map. I think that that effect -- what I call the “Nokia Effect “-- is something that will likely be replicated in other emerging economies around the world. If you look at the top 100 brands, most of those are North American and European today.

I think that the next 10 to 15 years will start to see portfolio rebalancing take place. This is what I call Globalization 3.0, where new brands will start to emerge in Asia and in places like Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, there will be a single brand that will raise those cultures up onto the world stage. And an example I would use is, look at Fiji water. Single company that is making, you know, the Fiji Islands visible in places around the world.

Recorded on: August 25, 2009

The brand strategist sums up the elements of a winning marketing plan.

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