I'm honored to welcome back Bill Ellis, a marketing expert with experience in a well-known global brand, who demonstrates his passion for branding in everything he does. Recently, we had a discussion about how branding impacts all aspects of business, and highlights follow a brief introduction.
Bill Ellis is a master at unlocking the fearless potential in others. A veteran of corporate brand management for more than 25 years at global beverage giant Anheuser-Busch, Bill has come to learn and deliver his true value in the past decade as a public speaker, certified coach, and brand architect for individuals and businesses.
Bill’s weekly blog, Friday’s Fearless Brand, has earned a following around the world as he masterfully highlights core elements of brands – whether people, places or organizations – that he considers to be fearless. It is Friday’s Fearless Brand that is the foundation for Women Who Won, a book sparked by Bill’s twin granddaughters and his wish for their happy future as successful intrepid women. It is his hope that this compilation of stories of amazing women from all walks of life will inspire and remind – both men and women – that we all can win. Bill is also the host of the What’s the Point? podcast, which is dedicated to helping people to define, clarify, and live their purpose, fueling it with passion, and evolving it through persistence. Connect with Bill at his website at www.brandingforresults.com, on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/wcellis, on Twitter @WCEllis, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/billelliscoach, and on Instagram @wcellis.
QUESTION: You were one of the first people I know who described his/her/their role within marketing as "Brand Architect." Can you please clarify?
BILL ELLIS: That's a great question. My mission is to make good brands better. As you well know, building, evolving, refining, and optimizing brands - be they companies, products/services, or personal brands - can be a very complex proposition. Discovering, clarifying, and growing a brand's value requires a variety of considerations and processes. For years I spent a great deal of time trying to answer people's question of "What do you do? Are you a coach, a consultant, a speaker, a facilitator, an author - what exactly are you?"
One day, it finally occurred to me that making good brands better - building more effective brands - is somewhat similar to constructing a building. There are a wide variety of disciplines required, but it all starts with the vision, experience, and talents of an architect. That realization made it very simple for me to define what I do regarding my work with brands: I'm an architect, a brand architect.
QUESTION: You appeared here on my Blog five years ago. One question I posed was this: "Most businesses have added to their C-level suite with a Chief Talent Officer, Chief Digital Officer, and even a Chief Customer Officer. When will businesses create Chief Branding Officers?" You provided a "NO" as your answer then. Has your opinion changed since 2016?
BILL ELLIS: No, my opinion hasn't changed at all. I don't believe that the position of Chief Branding Officer is one that will become widespread. However, let me help explain my opinion. To begin with, most people have a very narrow definition of brand and branding, thinking of it as the tangible elements such as logos. A brand is so much more than that. A brand is comprised of the value proposition of a company, product, or individual.
Creating a CBO title will, in my opinion, create too much confusion. What I do see as an evolving trend are titles which take into account the importance of building relational value - perhaps Chief Relational Officer. More and more the value of strong relations is becoming more evident as a critical element in a successful business.
TWEET THIS: A brand is comprised of the VALUE PROPOSITION of a company, product or individual. ~@WCEllis #brandstrategy #brandstorytelling #brandexperience
QUESTION: In 2017, I shared a review of your book, WOMEN WHO WON, Stories of Courage, Confidence, Vision and Determination. How have the events from 2020 (the #MeToo Movement, the celebration of the 19th Amendment, and the election of the first female vice president) altered your perspective about the importance of personal branding, and especially for women?
BILL ELLIS: The timing of my book, Women Who Won, was somewhat serendipitous in that it was written and published prior to the #MeToo movement and the long overdue acknowledgement of - and appreciation for - the potential represented by women. If anything, I believe more strongly than ever that understanding and building our personal brand is vital to our success in all aspects of life.
This is true more so for women. In my view, there is a deeper and more widespread openness to the talent, skills, and leadership represented by females. One question I was asked when my book was first published was "Who would you most like to read your book?" My answer was "Everyone, but especially men, as I recognize that most women know their talents and power, but as a whole, men need to become more aware."
(Post referenced: https://debbielaskey.blogspot.com/2017/12/the-first-book-for-your-2018-reading.html)
(Post referenced: https://debbielaskey.blogspot.com/2020/12/2020-was-year-of-women.html)
QUESTION: One of our fellow marketers, Jim Joseph (@JimJosephExp on Twitter), said, "It's nearly impossible now to separate an organization's leadership and its values from a brand. They are completely linked." What does this quote mean to you?
BILL ELLIS: I believe that Jim is absolutely correct in his statement. Frankly, I believe that's always been the case, but is just now becoming more widely recognized and accepted. An organization's leadership plays a significant role in clarifying, strengthening, and communicating a company's brand - and that of its products. What is ideal, as I see it, is for all of us to define our core values and make certain that wherever we work or get involved, has core values which are compatible. When I mention "core values", I'm referring to our deepest beliefs, those values which truly define our lives - our ideals.
TWEET THIS: An organization's leadership plays a significant role in clarifying, strengthening, and communicating a company's brand. ~@WCEllis #leadershiptip #brandtip #brandexperience
QUESTION: On your website, you promote the importance of conducting a brand self-audit. Can you share some of the key points that that a brand can discover upon doing this?
BILL ELLIS: Think about it this way, if we want to take a trip, but have no idea of our financial resources, what are our travel options, which of our possessions and wardrobe are appropriate and so forth, how can we expect to have a fulfilling holiday? I created my brand audit as a starting point for people to self-evaluate their brand status. It's suitable for assessing personal or company brands. For many, the results will highlight areas that the individual can address to immediately strengthen their brand - to make a good brand better. Many are capable and interested in a DIY approach. However, to reap the greatest benefits, my advice to people is to partner with the most appropriate brand architect for them.
(Link referenced: https://brandingforresults.com/brand-self-audit/)
QUESTION: What brands do you think are doing a good job with their advertising and marketing during the COVID-19 crisis? Please share examples.
BILL ELLIS: Advertising during this worldwide pandemic has clearly presented tremendous challenge to advertisers. Many of the more prevalent advertisers are ones whose industries have been most impacted - airlines, travel, restaurants. Many advertisers took a sentimental approach, a few tried simply to have fun. Not many of them stood out to me. I do want to give a shout out to my former employer on their creative re-imagining a classic "Whassup" campaign. They created what they called the "Quarantine version" with altered copy and the payoff exchange of "Whassup?" answered by "just quarantining, having a Bud". They leveraged an iconic spot for many, yet many younger viewers no doubt, assumed it to be a totally new spot. Either way, AB-InBev created a high-quality ad by cleverly avoiding the pitfalls of new production during Covid.
My gratitude and appreciation to Bill for sharing his inspiring perspective about the important alignment between leadership and branding.
Bill's first appearance on this blog: May 16, 2016:
Image Credit: Debbie Laskey.