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News & Events

The Business of Brand

Kellogg School marketing conference breaks attendance record; Leo Burnett CEO among keynotes

By Kari Richardson and Matt Golosinski

4/1/2004 - Linda Wolf, chairman and CEO of Leo Burnett Worldwide, kicked off the 2004 Kellogg School Marketing Conference on Jan. 16 with a keynote address exploring the cutting edge of brand building.

Wolf, who assumed the top leadership role at Leo Burnett in January 2001, illustrated the importance of brand with a multimedia presentation showcasing ad campaigns her firm designed for companies such as Walt Disney, Hallmark and Budweiser.

“Branding is everywhere today, and the need for new ideas is greater now than it’s ever been,” said Wolf, citing financial pressures that push companies to discover fresh ways to sell their products.

Beside Wolf, keynote speakers for the two-day conference, “Marketing Breakthroughs — What’s New and What’s Next,” included Mark Addicks, chief marketing officer for General Mills, and Chicago restaurateur Charlie Trotter. Panelists included marketers from some of the country’s top companies, who explored topics such as “Measuring Marketing Effectiveness” and “Expanding the Boundaries of Luxury” in Saturday sessions.

These marketing leaders drew more than 600 industry experts, faculty and students to the Donald P. Jacobs Center for the event Jan. 16 and 17, setting a new record for the annual conference organized by Kellogg School students.

Evoking the words of company founder Leo Burnett about the need to connect with customers, Wolf explained that “Before you can have a share of market, you must have a share of mind.”

The secret of a successful brand, she said, involves its ability to create “brand belief,” or a strong relationship between customers and the brand. Top brands have a “special stature” about them, she noted.

The brand bond is at the heart of the relationship between customer and company, Wolf said, and the brand’s essential message must form a part of every interaction between the product and the public. The message for athletic shoe and apparel manufacturer Nike, for instance, might be expressed as “winning spirit,” said Wolf. For Walt Disney World the communications theme is “shared magic.”

Top brands resonate with customers because the products and brand message seem relevant, engaging and capable of creating an emotional connection, Wolf said.

“The key is keeping the brand alive, consistently and over time, no matter what the challenges,” she said, adding that every aspect of the business model impacts the relationship between the brand and customers. Wolf noted the importance of communicating the brand message at the point of sale, in terms of customer service, on a company Web site, through direct mail campaigns, and in all the other ways a firm engages its market.

“It’s important to create a personality to the brand,” Wolf said.

Chef Trotter, founder of Charlie Trotter’s Restaurant and Trotter’s to Go, described how he practices “the art of marketing without marketing,” conveying his principles of quality, purity and innovation to every part of his organization, as well as to customers, with little or no spending on advertising and promotion.

Trotter, who opened his much-lauded restaurant 17 years ago at age 27, says he isn’t afraid to break the rules, spending more on staffing and ingredients for his dishes than other restaurants — even making radical changes such as switching from an a la carte to a tasting menu and banning smokers from the bar. He’s designed everything from a series of cookbooks, to a public television series called “The Kitchen Sessions with Charlie Trotter,” to a table strategically placed in the bustling kitchen of Charlie Trotter’s Restaurant to spotlight his organization’s strengths.

“We want to challenge every paradigm that’s been established in the food and wine and hospitality world,” Trotter said.

Despite breakthroughs in the field, challenges for marketers abound. Panelists who participated in a session called “Expanding globally … into the U.S.” described how difficult it often is for international companies to crack the United States’ market.

“You have to understand your base brand and make sure it’s relevant to consumers,” said Katheryn Peeler, assistant vice president of Maybelline-Garnier, who oversaw the launch of Garnier Fructis hair-care products in the United States, strategizing a way to build the European brand’s popularity here.

Since the average cost of launching a new product now tops $20 million, little room exists for error, said Greg Wozniak, brand manager for Barilla America, an Italian maker of pastas and sauces.

“You want to make sure your product is superior before you launch,” Wozniak said.

“Branding is everywhere today, and the need for new ideas is greater now than it’s ever been,” said Wolf, citing financial pressures that push companies to discover fresh ways to sell their products.

Beside Wolf, keynote speakers for the two-day conference, “Marketing Breakthroughs — What’s New and What’s Next,” included Mark Addicks, chief marketing officer for General Mills, and Chicago restaurateur Charlie Trotter. Panelists included marketers from some of the country’s top companies, who explored topics such as “Measuring Marketing Effectiveness” and “Expanding the Boundaries of Luxury” in Saturday sessions.

These marketing leaders drew more than 600 industry experts, faculty and students to the Donald P. Jacobs Center for the event Jan. 16 and 17, setting a new record for the annual conference organized by Kellogg School students.

Evoking the words of company founder Leo Burnett about the need to connect with customers, Wolf explained that “Before you can have a share of market, you must have a share of mind.”

The secret of a successful brand, she said, involves its ability to create “brand belief,” or a strong relationship between customers and the brand. Top brands have a “special stature” about them, she noted.

The brand bond is at the heart of the relationship between customer and company, Wolf said, and the brand’s essential message must form a part of every interaction between the product and the public. The message for athletic shoe and apparel manufacturer Nike, for instance, might be expressed as “winning spirit,” said Wolf. For Walt Disney World the communications theme is “shared magic.”

Top brands resonate with customers because the products and brand message seem relevant, engaging and capable of creating an emotional connection, Wolf said.

“The key is keeping the brand alive, consistently and over time, no matter what the challenges,” she said, adding that every aspect of the business model impacts the relationship between the brand and customers. Wolf noted the importance of communicating the brand message at the point of sale, in terms of customer service, on a company Web site, through direct mail campaigns, and in all the other ways a firm engages its market.

“It’s important to create a personality to the brand,” Wolf said.

Chef Trotter, founder of Charlie Trotter’s Restaurant and Trotter’s to Go, described how he practices “the art of marketing without marketing,” conveying his principles of quality, purity and innovation to every part of his organization, as well as to customers, with little or no spending on advertising and promotion.

Trotter, who opened his much-lauded restaurant 17 years ago at age 27, says he isn’t afraid to break the rules, spending more on staffing and ingredients for his dishes than other restaurants — even making radical changes such as switching from an a la carte to a tasting menu and banning smokers from the bar. He’s designed everything from a series of cookbooks, to a public television series called “The Kitchen Sessions with Charlie Trotter,” to a table strategically placed in the bustling kitchen of Charlie Trotter’s Restaurant to spotlight his organization’s strengths.

“We want to challenge every paradigm that’s been established in the food and wine and hospitality world,” Trotter said.

Despite breakthroughs in the field, challenges for marketers abound. Panelists who participated in a session called “Expanding globally … into the U.S.” described how difficult it often is for international companies to crack the United States’ market.

“You have to understand your base brand and make sure it’s relevant to consumers,” said Katheryn Peeler, assistant vice president of Maybelline-Garnier, who oversaw the launch of Garnier Fructis hair-care products in the United States, strategizing a way to build the European brand’s popularity here.

Since the average cost of launching a new product now tops $20 million, little room exists for error, said Greg Wozniak, brand manager for Barilla America, an Italian maker of pastas and sauces.

“You want to make sure your product is superior before you launch,” Wozniak said.