Ten Ways Leading Brands Lead

TopTenList Depending on how you look at it, the protracted difficult economic conditions and the world events we are experiencing can be both a burden and an opportunity.

This is a good time for businesses that are getting back to basics to step on the commerce pedal and take the lead. In times of uncertainty, new leaders are made.

Leaders confront the brutal facts of reality by delivering true solutions and not solutions in search of a problem.

They are not discouraged by limiting conversations both in social channels and those fueled in mainstream media-tainment. After all, they are a reflection of existing models, and not a conversation of what is possible.

Leading brands, and leading businesses, lead

While we continue to see marketers enamored with shiny objects, we're starting to see a new type of entrepreneur emerging:

CEOs and principals grounded in solid product utility obsession, professionals who have already tested their mettle in the market, who understand technology, and undestand the modern marketing method.

Which is why they:

(1) listen aggressively

Are you making what the customer wants to do the most important part of the product? Do you spend time listening, observing, and anticipating, not just monitoring? Do you match your business processes to the right executions?

(2) communicate purpose and meaning

In much of my research, I am finding that these should be the underpinnings of a valuable strategy both with employees and with customers. Who cares when you start a blog, or join Twitter, if you don't have a plan on purpose and meaning?

Drop the fluff, go for the real stuff.

(3) lead by example

Do you set the tone for the industry? Do you demonstrate commitment and enthusiasm? Are you doing everything you are asking your customers and employees to do? We demonstrate our truest colors and values in difficult times. Your actions will follow you long after the troubles are gone.

Done with the right intent this will make you influential.

(4) take calculated risks

It's no secret that we become even more conservative in difficult times. You should capitalize on the lack of resources to become more focused and efficiencies, yes, and experiment a little. Times of chaos are ripe with opportunities for creativity and innovation.

Prepare for when things pick up.

(5) make frenemies

Use your power to highlight others and become more open to new ideas, regardless of where they come from. With the movements in mobility, open content, and portability, why should we stay stuck with outdated competitive models?

Go for horizontal growth and alliances.

(6) create a culture of trust

Do the right thing for your people and for the organization. Be consistent. Do what you say you will do, both on a personal level, and as a way of conducting business. If the people three levels down from the action don't understand the impact of their work, create and promote a way to help them see it.

(7) tell the business story

Branding is about being true to the business. There is no better way to do that than telling your own story with every action. Focus on your own DNA, the problem you sole, and you will find it easier to show what makes you different, reliable, interesting, worth buying, etc.

(8) rally people around a common goal

Do you help increase contacts between members of your first community, team members? Too many companies are still very much organized in silos internally and continue to project that split externally. Unity is important, and so is holding everyone to the same high standards.

(9) improve people's lives

Connection with purpose is important. Is that technology, product, or service going to improve someone's life? The best metrics are qualitative in kind; what people talk about, share, and recommend. Which is why the leading brands have the strongest evangelists. 

(10) have a sense of humor

Laughter is the shortest distance between two people. You should not take yourself too seriously. It's good for your health and helps with the human side of things.

The marketplace is flooded with "me, me, me" and "me, too" brands. Leadership is not about talking, it's about doing. It's about commitment, conviction, and work.

Hard economic times call for focused boldness and kind leadership. Can your brand do it?


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0 responses to “Ten Ways Leading Brands Lead”

  1. I don’t know if my last message came through or not, so here it is again. Sorry if it is a re-post.
    Great list. It will be the leaders and brands who can effectively do all 10 that will come out on top once the smoke clears. Although, I do have a bit of an argument with #4. I am a calculated risk person, so what I am about to say goes against every fiber of my ‘over-analyze’ being.
    One thing I have noticed with my recent experience is that some risks don’t have the time to be calculated before they are gone. What this means is that we are, and it seems more so as time passes, forced to make quicker decisions, sometimes without all of the necessary information. This means we trust our gut, jump in and pray everything comes out on the other end for the better good.
    Scares the heck out of me, but it is a great learning experience.
    Great list!

  2. The Golden Rule, unabridged.
    While big business, the media, and the government engage in M&A as “innovation,” sensationalist fear-mongering, and bi-partisan hackery, enough customers fall through the cracks in their rotten, anti-competitive business models every day to allow for the creation – and growth – of reasonably-sized, sustainable organizations.
    It’s probably to the point we roll our eyes every time we hear the media talk about how businesses are doing more with less, but that’s because our sub-conscious minds know it’s bullshit.
    People are doing more with less.
    Business is actually doing less with more.
    Stop looking to me-too, cookie cutter VCs, greedy angels, and bloated, dysfunctional corporations for inspiration. Stop letting the mainstream media distract you with gratuitous flamebait. Don’t let the political discord drag you down to a world where proving others wrong is somehow going to prove you right.
    Treat others the way you expect to be treated yourself. We are all customers. Do you like those automated customer service systems? Do you like being ignored? Do you want to pay a premium for a cheaply made, brand name product?
    Valeria hits the nail on the head AGAIN.

  3. This part made me think a bit “some risks don’t have the time to be calculated before they are gone” because we could also look at it as, the risks are gone, not the opportunities.
    Making decisions with incomplete information means we rely more on trust _and_ connections. The net attached to work = network.
    It also means we have more good stories to tell, don’t we?

  4. Valeria – Indeed. Sometimes the opportunities hang around and out-last the risks. One thing I have noticed with increasing strength in the last few years, is that people don’t trust people. Not even the people they know well. We have a hard time making risky decisions because we lack the trust in our connections. More like net attached to ‘take advantage of’.
    One of the big reasons I try to develop solid relationships first and then proceed with business. 10 years ago I would have said, find a business partner and then become best friends. Today, it feels like you need to find someone you want to be a business partner, make them your friend and then develop the business.
    You are exactly right with your last statement, it does make for some really good stories. 😉

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