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Ray Baird, founder and president, RiechesBaird

Click here for Ray Baird's bio
or visit riechesbaird.com




Image and Brand Conference wraps up
As we wrap up the 2011 Image and Brand Conference, a few things are apparent.

IT’S ALL ABOUT CHANGE.

Many companies have gone through such dramatic change with people and cost structures over the last couple of years, and now need to rethink what it means to their brands. More than half of the attendees were in the re-branding process.

INTERNAL BRANDING

Another top theme and consideration is internal branding. Companies are desperately trying to find ways of aligning and energizing the work force. Many companies have been through such change that employees need to be recalibrated on vision, mission and strategy.

GETTING SOCIAL

Lastly, most everyone is trying to figure out what social means, and how to use it and incorporate into the brand strategy. Many of the attendees were trying blogging and tweeting for the first time this year. It will be interesting to see what progress and advancements will be made this year.

Hopefully you have enjoyed these conference updates and blogs, and have found them informative. Feel free to let me know what you think by e-mailing me, and if you have any branding questions, feel free to give us a call at 949.586.1200.




Big ideas can disrupt the status quo
We ended the day yesterday by presenting Pegasystems’ "Challenger Brand" case study with the company’s Chief Marketing Officer Grant Johnson. The basic premise is how big ideas can disrupt the status quo: "David vs. Goliath." If you get a chance, check out the website. It's an amazing story of a founder’s vision to break conventional thinking by re-creating the company’s business model. What makes the story even more interesting is the fact that at the tender age of 19 years old, the founder was the No. 1 chess player in the world!

After the presentation, we were approached by several companies that shared similar stories of how smaller firms took on big, mammoth brands and became market leaders.

I am pleased to report that there is much optimism among these Fortune 500 executives over the 2011 business environment and interest in how to brand and re-brand.



Improve the brand experience
Internal branding and working with employees to improve the brand experience are hot topics at this year’s conference.

Marketers from Kimberley-Clark and 3M are sharing their thoughts about approaches.

STRATEGY

Top-line input is critical. PEOPLE strategy first. Without committing to a strategy that aligns with the business, you are sending the wrong signals. Define the desired customer experience and work backward through all the touch points to ensure employees understand their roles.

BUY-IN

Without executive buy-in, you are in for a bad experience. If the executives can't articulate the ideas and direction, do not expect employees to get on board.

IT IS A JOURNEY

Don't think of this as a one-time project. It is never ending. Develop the right measurements and monitor real time.

These fundamentals provide great guidelines that should help to ensure success.

Next up: RiechesBaird’s Challenger Brand presentation.

Stay tuned.

Managing corporate brand is 'critical'
“Survival of the Fittest” – that's the title of today’s first presentation by Thomas O'Toole, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for United Airlines. The company is in the process of creating a new integrated brand and strategy after the recent merger with Continental Airlines. Thomas talked about the changing landscape of branding, and how managing the corporate identity is absolutely critical in today’s market – especially with the growing influence of social media. Managing a brand across a growing array of channels can be extremely difficult, and the company is approaching its new brand strategy by involving all divisions of the organization: smart. United Airlines is driven from the customer experience point of view: smart. And brand preference is the key performance metric that the airline is using to demonstrate results.

Thomas noted that managing the corporate brand is extremely important, but he acknowledged and understood that controlling the brand in the new social era is impossible. Guiding the brand, being consistent and being proactive is top of mind, and integration is critical. Transparency is everything.

He listed a few major elements to the strategic process:

1. Define the brand position.
2. Articulate the customer experience.
3. Design brand identity.
4. Operationalize.
5. Execute across channels.

It will be interesting to follow the progress of the company's new brand creation. It seems like re-branding is the central theme to this year’s conference, and social media is definitely going to be a main topic.

Stay tuned.

Best brands, minds gather in New York
Live from New York! I am bringing you insights and updates from the 2011 Corporate Image and Branding Conference at the Westin New York at Times Square. Whether you own a company, work on strategy, create brands or are simply interested in what's new and successful in growing a business, you are going to want to tune in during the next few days. Some of the biggest brands and best minds have come together to share stories, ideas and best practices. Companies like IBM, Toyota and PNC Bank to name a few.

And of course RiechesBaird. We will be presenting our Branding Business philosophy and "Challenger Brand" case study with Grant Johnson, vice president of marketing from Pega – one of the fastest-growing companies in its field. Pega is an amazing story of a founder’s vision and brand strategy that is putting the industry on notice. I only hope Mother Nature takes it easy on us.

It's always an adventure to go from SoCal and 75 degrees to 30 degrees and 6 inches of snow on the horizon. Next up: reviews of the first presentations and eavesdropping on what's hot and what's not.

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