“These Are Amazing Times…Leverage Your Brand to Exploit Them”

October 22, 2011

By Telisa Yancy, Director Advertising, Brand and Media

Depending on who you ask, the current environment for marketers might be described with words, like: crazy, busy, overwhelming-some might even say "insane"!  Building great brands, and telling great stories is now just a portion of what marketers are expected to contribute to their organizations.  If you really want to a list of what marketers do daily, you'd have to add a number of new disciplines including, driving the growth agenda, discovering new markets and new ways to connect to consumers, and most importantly, defending the marketing investment-daily.  Most of us as marketers welcome the new opportunity to help our companies succeed and we are even honored that people recognize that marketing is a true discipline that requires knowledge, skill and leadership.   But, let's admit it...sometimes it feels like this great discipline that we love has lost a bit of its swagger and magic. 

Well, Esther Lee, SVP of Brand Marketing and Advertising for AT&T Services has the anecdote that will get us back to the amazing opportunity that we have as marketers, and surprisingly, and it starts with unleashing the power of your brand. 

The amazing opportunity that confronted Ms. Lee when she joined AT&T was the fact that AT&T has near universal recognition-they are well-known, but not necessarily well-loved. Ms. Lee has been on a journey to change this, and based on results of things like customer retention, sales and market share, I'd say she's making pretty good progress. 

Every journey has a roadmap or some mileposts to help shape and ensure that you will arrive at the appointed place.  For Ms. Lee, and the AT&T Company, there are four critical steps that have marked the journey that all marketers can apply:

  • Knowing what business you're in
  • Seeking the highest possible ground
  • Be it, Do it, not just say it
  • Starting from the beginning

Admittedly, all of these seem like relatively simple steps, but Ms. Lee showed that they are not...you cannot truly capitalize on the journey without taking a deep, visceral look into each of these steps.  For example, in step one, most people would describe AT&T as a "Telcom" company-Ms. Lee would not.  She states that they are a "mobility led company that allows people to do more things".  Knowing this allows her to move forward to milepost two, with a true vision on how to seek higher ground (and I'm sure higher profits) for the company.  This also allows the company to know and understand that to capitalize on milepost three, they cannot only present great technology and networks that make everything better, they also have to provide a remarkable customer experience (they are working on this one) and public service that builds deeper and more personal connections to consumers.  One way they did this was through the New Years Eve release of the "that text can wait" documentary: http://youtu.be/DebhWD6ljZs. Another is the fact that they have 30,000 people devoted to building apps to help deliver on the vision on making anything connected to the Internet better. 

Milepost Four, starting from the beginning is what brings the journey together.  Great brands activate the souls and visions of companies.  So before you march off to fight the ROI and metrics battles, don't forget to remind yourself that profits, consumer engagement and loyalty all start with a brand having the courage to be authentic to their highest purpose. 

So in your quest to be able to passionately agree with Ms. Lee that these are indeed amazing times, I leave you with a few words from AT&T's Rethink Possible manifesto:

Play the angel's advocate,

Outsmart can't,

Explore. Try. Do.

Before it could be done, it couldn't.

These are amazing times.


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