From The Top: Getting It Right

December 1, 2010

Make it a mission to drive brand growth

By Bob Liodice, President and CEO, ANA

On November 2, the American electorate sent a very loud message to Washington about moving our country in the right direction. It didn't seem to matter which of our political leaders had the better ideas. Americans simply wanted them to "get it right."

Chief marketing officers and other industry heavyweights also spoke about getting it right at the ANA's annual Masters of Marketing Conference. Each and every one of them acknowledged the dramatic changes in the marketing and media ecosystem. Each and every one of them noted the impact of the severe recession - including diminished ad budgets, strained agency relationships, and leaner staffs. But each and every one of them refused to budge from their core commitment to drive continued growth and achieve superior results.

Many of them, in fact, pointed to the power of the brand and the fundamental need to get brand management right.

Mark Baynes, global chief marketing officer for Kellogg, said it succinctly and directly: "Unless you have absolute clarity of what your brand stands for, everything else is irrelevant."

Ted Ward, chief marketing officer for Geico, shared his brand philosophy: "Short, simple, and to the point - sales overnight, brands over time."

But getting the brand "right" is a distinct and unique challenge.

Michael Francis, chief marketing officer for Target, encourages us to "be bold enough to challenge assumptions. Boldly and frankly assess what consumers are telling you about your brand, and make the change."

Jim Speros, chief marketing officer for Fidelity Investments, echoed that call, reminding everyone that it's up to us. "Challenge yourself," he said. "If you don't have a big idea, then you are doing your company a disservice because that is what will fundamentally distinguish your brand."

Indeed, it's about each and every one of us and our commitment to the brand.

John Adams, chief executive officer for the Martin Agency, said, "It's not lack of knowledge, but lack of conviction and the will or desire to take big steps that will affect brand growth. It's your internal mindset that matters most."

Graciela Eleta, senior vice president for Univision, reinforced that point: "Ask yourself what your personal accountability is and what you are doing to drive strategic and brand growth."

The decisions that shape our relationships with consumers and customers are what will determine the trajectory for brand and business growth. Marc Pritchard, global marketing officer for Procter & Gamble, summed it up best: "Think about the best way you can serve people and make their lives better. This will lead you to big insights that can improve your brand and your growth."

Now that's "getting the message" - don't you think?


"From The Top: Getting It Right." Bob Liodice, President and CEO, ANA. ANA Magazine, December 2010.

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