Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Does Your Marketing Team Have Control Over Your Brand?

Over the last 12 years, thanks to social media, I have had the privilege to meet amazing marketing, customer experience, and leadership experts. One of these experts is Roy Osing from Vancouver, Canada, who I met on Twitter. We recently discussed my favorite topic, brand marketing and its impact on the overall brand experience, and highlights of our conversation follow Roy’s introduction.

Roy Osing is a former president, CMO, and entrepreneur with over 40 years of successful and unmatched executive leadership experience in every aspect of business. As president of a major data and Internet company, his leadership and audacious unheard-of methods and practices took the company from its early stage to a $1 Billion in annual sales. He is a resolute blogger, keen content marketer, dedicated teacher and mentor to young professionals, an accomplished business advisor, and the author of the no-nonsense book series BE DiFFERENT or be dead. Visit his website, connect on LinkedIn, and follow/engage on Twitter @RoyOsing.

QUESTION: You wrote a post entitled, “What has the greatest control over your brand?” What are some key highlights?

ROY OSING: ‘Paper brands’ are commonplace and typically are dreams and aspirations declared by the planners, marketers, and other staff people in organizations that are intent on shaping what the organization should deliver in the markets they serve. But until it’s tested by practical day-to-day operations, the paper brand stays in the dream stage and is either reinforced, or it dies by how the organization actually behaves during customer engagement.

Some of the factors that communicate an organization’s brand and make it real include:    

  • Frontline belief and commitment — if they don’t believe in the brand and if they are not prepared to deliver on it every moment of every day, the brand dies,
  • Recruitment — if customer-facing employees aren’t hired based on their innate desire to take care of other humans and serve them in an exemplary way, the brand dies,
  • Operating processes — if the way the organization conducts business doesn’t enable the customer engagement process to support the brand promise, the brand dies,
  • Dumb Rules — if the internal rules and policies don’t ‘say yes’ and enable the customer to engage with the organization in the way they want to, customers get frustrated, they leave for another supplier, and the brand dies, and
  • Cut the CRAP — if ‘grunge,’ barriers, and roadblocks get in the way of employees’ delivering products or services the way the brand envisages, the brand dies.

A successful brand is a ‘people brand,’ built by leaders who understand that unless the entire fabric of an organization works in harmony to deliver the brand promise, it’s nothing more than ‘lipstick on a pig.’

QUESTION: You compared marketing in 2010 with marketing in 2021. What three types of campaigns or strategies stand out as different?
ROY OSING: The biggest change in marketing over the last decade is the tool set that a marketer uses to do their job, notably the use of Artificial Intelligence to perform functions like:

  • Consumer behavior forecasting,
  • Personalized advertising,
  • Marketing messaging, and
  • Customer service via telephone or chatbots.

But beyond the use of AI to perform these nuts and bolts marketing functions, I see little change in the basic philosophy and fundamentals of marketing over the past decade.

The following marketing elements haven’t changed (and they need to):

  • Marketing remains heavily entrenched in the ‘product flogging’ mode, with the focus of AI to make flogging more efficient. Technology and product features are relentlessly pushed at people with little or no attention given to developing new solutions based on what customers crave. Marketers continue to push what the ‘factory’ produces.
  • Price continues to dominate the selling proposition with such acquisition tactics as special deals and giveaways dominating go-to-market activities. Marketing has a long way to go to pivot from flogging products based on price to creating personalized packaged solutions based on cravings.
  • Marketing is getting less and less effective at differentiating themselves from their competitors even though markets have become hyper competitive over the past decade. I see the same old platitudes used to explain why one organization should be chosen over another: ‘best products’, ‘exceed expectations’, ‘market leader’ and ‘our goal is to delight you’ are examples of the meaningless claims used by most marketers to try and define their competitive relevance, which they don’t.
  • Marketers continue to be copycats, benchmarking who they believe is best in class at something and copying them with the misguided notion they are being innovative, and that marketing performance will improve. Benchmarking is the antithesis of achieving long-term strategic advantage; marketers have done little in a decade to determine how to separate themselves from the mob.
  • Marketing continues to incrementally change products and services (to try and make them appeal to a larger audience) rather than invent new innovative solutions; this is a logical extension of the desire to copy others and ‘round the corners’ of current offerings rather than create something stark and new with hard edges that is unmatched by the competition.

Over the past decade, web-based technologies may have made marketers more efficient at performing a few specific marketing functions, but overall, little progress has been made to morph marketing’s role to make it more RELEVANT.

TWEET THIS: I see little change in the basic philosophy and fundamentals of marketing over the past decade. –@RoyOsing #Marketing #BrandExperience #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: You wrote about eight ways to improve a brand’s marketing muscle. Of those eight, which three ways are most critical for every brand, and why?
ROY OSING: The playground for marketing today and for the foreseeable future is more intense and demanding; it requires muscle-building in these three areas to build and sustain a meaningful and successful brand:

  • Innovation — The pace of change in markets requires marketers to be change leaders not followers. Successful brands will be those that lead their customers with new compelling solutions that satisfy what they crave. True innovation builds brand value; benchmarking and copying others reduce value. Muscle-building brands will live on the edge; they will try more than others and they will have their fair share of failures, but in the end, they will survive and prevail over those who continue with their traditional ways.
  • Customer Learning — Meaningful brands are supported by knowing customers intimately and using their ‘secrets’ to guide marketing activity. This is much more than simply tracking an individual’s browsing activity on the web (which, at best, merely reflects someone’s curiosity, and not a bonafide craving they have). Customer learning drives the new product development process and builds customer loyalty; AI drives short-term product flogging and has little to do with building long-term customer loyalty.
  • ‘ME’ — Successful brands in the future will be created by those organizations that are mindlessly focused on the individual and developing products and services that satisfy their specific ‘quirky’ needs. Mass market brands are dying; people are exercising choice in their lives, and organizations need to flex to ‘weird’ markets not ‘normal’ ones.

TWEET THIS: True innovation builds brand value; benchmarking and copying others reduce value. –@RoyOsing #BrandExperience #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: How do you see the employee experience tied into the overall brand experience?
ROY OSING: How employees feel about the organization they work in is a major predictor of how customers feel when they do business with the organization. If the brand promises to ‘go the extra mile’ for customers, for example, and leadership doesn’t do the same for employees, it’s unlikely that customers will get the brand value. It’s the job of leaders to make employees aware of the brand promise and also to ensure they have an intimate understanding of what actions they must take to deliver it. Leaders must provide a direct line of sight from the brand strategy to every function in the organization.

TWEET THIS: Leaders must provide a direct line of sight from the brand strategy to every function in the organization. –@RoyOsing #BrandStrategy #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: What are your three favorite brands, and why?
ROY OSING: My three favorites are:
(1) Zappos: Their call center strategy is truly unique. Unlike most organizations that outsource their call centers and treat them as a ‘cost to be controlled,’ Zappos keeps their call center within its operations and treats it as a customer loyalty center.
(2) Marriott: They deliver a consistent customer experience across all of their properties worldwide. They have a fantastic loyalty program supported by employees who were obviously hired for goosebumps.
(3) Amazon: For me, they are one of the few suppliers that make it easy for their customers to do business with the company, from the ordering process to the no-hassle return process. They do their best to make the customer engagement experience pleasant and rewarding. They’re not perfect, but I can’t think of any organization that is better.

My thanks to Roy for appearing here on my Blog and for sharing useful take-aways for brands to improve their overall brand experiences.

Image Credit: Debbie Laskey.

Question 1: Dumb Rules (
Cut the CRAP (

Question 2:
Post referenced in question: (
Product flogging (
Price (
Differentiating themselves (
Benchmarking (

Question 3:
Post referenced in question: (
Customer learning (
Weird markets (

Question 4: Direct line of sight (  

Question 5: Hired for goosebumps (

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