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Faculty Bookshelf: Kellogg on Branding

New Kellogg on Branding makes its mark
Latest literary offering from Kellogg adds to school's published thought leadership

The Kellogg School of Management has published Kellogg on Branding (Wiley & Sons), a compilation of insights about brands and branding. The latest in a series of titles by Kellogg contributors, Kellogg on Branding offers valuable perspectives that combine theory with practical application, making it a worthy addition to existing "Kellogg on" texts that have explored subjects such as marketing, technology, developing markets and strategy (see Kellogg on Strategy).

With chapters written by Kellogg professors and business leaders, Kellogg on Branding is a holistic study that goes to the heart of what today's marketing leaders should do to achieve success. Here are just two excerpts from the new book, which is available online at the Kellogg Emporium.

  Kellogg on Branding
"Finding the Right Brand Name"

By Carol Bernick, chairman, Alberto-Culver Co.

In the process of branded product development, the selection of a name can be the most creative and the most critical aspect. ... If your brand name is distinctive and memorable, it can and will make the difference in winning at the shelf ... make a major contribution to the longevity of the overall concept ... make your advertising dollars work harder, and create more attention and provide more value to your consumer.

As marketers, it's far too easy to get too close to our brands. What seems obvious to us can be confusing to the consumer. A great name is the chance to bring definition, clarity, personality, and, ultimately, trial to a new idea just taking shape.

The new brand faces daunting odds - crowded shelves stocked high with competitors' products, the huge advertising budgets of global players. ... And yet each year new entrants carve out niches and sometimes a considerable presence in both new and established categories.

In part this is because the playing field is a bit more level than it may appear. A consumer watching a television commercial or reading a print ad does not know, nor particularly care, whether the company behind that message is a startup or a global powerhouse. At that moment she may be convinced by a message - more specifically a unique selling proposition convincingly communicated. Whatever shelf space you are allotted, a powerfully communicated benefit - your unique selling proposition - coupled with an outstanding, memorable, ownable name and personality can still reach the shopper. But the time for a product to prove itself is short and continually shrinking, and the need to move a consumer with a single message as opposed to 10 is increasingly critical.

"Branding and Organizational Culture"

By Gary A. Mecklenburg, president and CEO, Northwestern Memorial HealthCare

In most industries, businesses know that having a positive brand image is critical to building a loyal customer base. Those of us in the highly complex healthcare field recognize that our image and reputation are based on the first-hand experiences that patients and families have at a time when they are most vulnerable. Sensitivity and compassion as well as professional competence are both essential elements of our brand.

Many believe that a successful brand image is the product of marketing and advertising initiatives that present an organization's attributes to the outside world. Based on 35 years as a hospital executive, I believe the most successful brands, especially in healthcare, begin internally with a strong, ... omnipresent organizational culture. And ... that culture needs a clearly articulated and lived mission that captures the commitment of every person in the organization.

My own realization of this principle began in the early 1980s when I was asked to lead St. Joseph's Hospital, the largest Catholic hospital in Wisconsin.

I met a woman named Emma during my tenure as president and CEO. Emma was like many people in Milwaukee - very ethnic, very religious, and very industrious. She was an older woman whose features and carriage exhibited a life of hard work. Emma was the housekeeper responsible for cleaning the main lobby where a large statue of St. Joseph stood to welcome visitors. Even though the building was 60 years old, the floors shined, the windows sparkled, and nothing was out of place.

As I got to know her, I realized that Emma worked not only for a paycheck but also to help fulfill her responsibilities to her faith. It wasn't the hospital's lobby; it was God's lobby. Emma kept it spotlessly clean for Him as He healed our patients.

Over time, I learned that most of our staff, regardless of their religious affiliation, were just like Emma. They worked harder and longer, volunteered for extra assignments, and came in on weekends and holidays because they fundamentally believed in the importance of the organization's work and their personal role within it.

At St. Joseph's, the founder's purpose and the employees' goals had become one. Our strategies, decisions, and allocation of resources emanated from our mission and values, which resulted in a clear direction and focus throughout the organization.

Thus, long before the concept of branding became popular in healthcare, I learned that a positive brand image begins with day-to-day service excellence provided by committed employees.

©2002 Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University