11 Resolutions for Brand Leaders in 2021

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Who says resolutions are just for personal goals?  As per tradition, here’s my ever-evolving list of resolutions for brand leaders, meant to help guide your success in 2021 and beyond.

Read them, live them, laminate them!

  1. I will keep two things front and center: The people we exist to serve, and the change we will create for them.  My starting point is not what we get, but what we give.
  2. In line with #1, I will craft a brand positioning statement that clearly defines our Who (the people we serve), our How (our meaningful difference) and our Why (the benefit we create).
  3. I will approach strategy as an informed opinion on how to win.  I will diagnose where we are, establish where we want to be, and make clear, credible choices to bridge the gap.
  4. I will remember that what we do matters far more than what we say – and if we do something meaningful, we’ll have a story worth telling.
  5. I will be focused, disciplined and creative.  I will do a few things very well instead of many things at parity.  I will do more with less.
  6. I won’t waste one minute trying to please everyone, because what we do isn’t for “everyone.”
  7. I will recognize that internal victories precede external ones – and that guiding the unified intent of our team is one of my most important roles.
  8. I will remember that culture beats strategy – but it’s not an either/or.
  9. I will treat my consumers, co-workers and partners with the respect they deserve – always.
  10. I will ask more questions, listen more, read more and learn from every possible source.
  11. I will use my brand as a force for good – to make the world a better place in some way.

What would you add to this list of resolutions?  Here’s to creating meaning and value in 2021!

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About Matthew Fenton: Matthew is a former CMO who helps brands to focus, stand out and grow.  Since founding his consultancy, Three Deuce Branding, in 1997, he’s helped hundreds of brands to achieve “brand clarity.”  His consulting services and speaking engagements help brands to focus on what matters through positioning, strategy and ideation.  Contact Matthew here.  He’s based in Chicago.

Copyright 2020 – Matthew Fenton. All Rights Reserved. You may reprint this article with the original, unedited text intact, including the About Matthew Fenton section.

Act With Purpose: Four Factors for Making a Difference

Act With Purpose
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Last week, I shared five reasons why I’m at odds with the “Change or die!” fear-mongers.  Today I offer an alternate (and calmer) approach: “Act with purpose.”

I’ll begin with another rebuttal to “Change or die”: We’re already changing, without anyone shouting at us to do so.  As people, as teams, as organizations, we’re changing all the time.

Any time we adopt a new habit, launch a new product, or add even one new team member, we’re changing.  But change can be intentional or unintentional.  So the operative question is this:

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Three Levels of Brand Values

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I submit to you that there are three levels of brand values.

Level 1 – “No Values”

Here, you’re saying, “Values are irrelevant – profit is what we’re here for.”  You don’t think about your Why; you’re focused on your What and your How. 

It’s unimaginative, but at least it’s honest.  If you’re up-front about your desire to relieve me of some of the money in my wallet, I can work with you on those terms.

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Don’t Waste This Crisis: How Strong Values Improve Strategy

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There’s a question that’s asked far too rarely as we develop brand and business strategies.  It’s simple but extremely powerful, since it shapes everything that you’ll do as a team or organization.

The question:

Who do we want to be?

It’s challenging to lead an organization in the best of times.  In a time of scarcity – like the one we recently, abruptly entered – it can feel impossible.

But navigating difficulty is one of the roles of a leader.  As FDR said, “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.” 

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Marketing in the Time of Coronavirus

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Last week, I joined a client for a virtual brainstorm.  The focus: Our marketing next steps in these trying times.

We established a rule up-front: For an idea to move forward, it has to serve our customers.  In other words, if it benefits only us, it does not advance.  It goes to either the “rework” or “trash” pile.

This is a good rule for new ideas in general.  Two decades ago, Doug Hall and his team at Eureka! Ranch found that new-product concepts with a high level of “overt benefit” outperformed concepts with a low level by 3:1.

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If Nothing Else, Start With Respect

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“Manipulating the masses into buying stuff they don’t need!  That’s what I do!  That’s marketing!”

That’s an actual quote I once heard from a marketing director.  This was during an inventing session, the goal of which was to create new products that would make his customers (in other words, people) happier.

I’ve also been in a conference room when an executive flat-out called his customers (also people) “stupid.”

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