“How much cheese do you take off the pizza until you have no customers left?”
Gordon Bethune, Continental Airlines turn-around CEO (circa 1994)
Financial results and brand experience – the two are inextricably linked in the equation of profitability. Whether or not they are completely understood and embraced, shareholder results and brand value are ultimately both the responsibility of the CEO.
CEOs who place a premium on brand design and brand experience realize the most sustained return on shareholder brand value. While task-oriented responsibilities for creating brand and shareholder value can be delegated, the final responsibility for valuation outcomes can not be abdicated.
“We push innovation
and design very strongly.”
Bob Ulrich, Target Chairman and former CEO
Particularly in an age of socially distributed messaging, if your product is faulty or lackluster in form and appearance, your service is sub par, or your price inequitable, your profitability, brand and shareholder value will eventually suffer.
A Brand-colored Vision
Withstanding the effects of business fluctuations is often dependent upon remaining true to a vision for your brand. Steve Jobs famously refused to relinquish the reins of Apple to an accounting-minded CEO after a product flop.
Investors and Wall Street alike have always recognized that Apple’s stock price was tied directly to Jobs’ final say and his dogmatic defense of brand design and belief in its business value. CEOs who focus on financial responsibility alone myopically neglect and erode brand value.
However, assuming a CEO holds and adheres to a vision for the brand, as filtered through the eyes of customers, the resurgent moments can be something to behold as the visionary listens, refines, and launches the brand’s design anew.
“Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.”
Steve Jobs, CEO Apple
A History of Brand Design and Business Value
CEOs who embraced brand design as a means to build brand and business value abound: Virgin’s Richard Branson; Yves St. Laurent; Continental’s turn-around agent, Gordon Bethune; Martha Stewart; Target’s Bob Ulrich; and Starbucks’ Howard Schultz, just to name a few.
From product design to packaging, usability to interface design; remain steadfast in your adherence to brand design and its importance to your institution’s value.
How do you rate your brand’s design, your customer’s perception of it, and your vision for where it needs to be?