When you look at the world’s greatest brands — from Domino’s and Hershey’s to Gatorade and Google — at the center of success is a product or service people say they can’t live without or just don’t want to. But behind the scenes is the vision, strategy, and action plan necessary to achieve the business goal.
How did Domino’s become the world leader in pizza delivery? How did Hershey’s become one of the world’s most beloved chocolate makers? How has Gatorade become synonymous with hydration? How did Google evolve from a company to a verb?
These brands have followed a road map that takes them from aspiration to action. Here are four ways your favorite brands have earned their iconic status — and what you can learn from them.
Analyze the Current State
Brands that acknowledge who they really are in the competitive marketplace in the present time can set a benchmark from which they can evolve. Stakeholders should look at the brand fairly, honestly, and transparently to define the good, the bad, and what can be improved.
For example, in 2008, Domino’s had to accept the state of things when customers complained the cardboard box was tastier than the pizza that came in it. The brand embraced the feedback and embarked on a pizza turnaround.
We advise brands to strive to see the product, service, and experience through the customer’s eyes.
Decide on the Future State
Brands need to have a clear vision of who they want to be. When devising that vision, we tell our clients to be clear about the specificity of the goal — and to be bold.
Will you become the best restaurant brand in the world in 10 years? Be the best at providing information in an agile manner? Deliver the best performance running shoe? Push the envelope and aim high with the business goal. This is how greatness is born.
To wit: Tesla set a high bar in declaring it wanted “to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.” Domino’s also raised a few eyebrows when, at the brand’s lowest point in 2008, it claimed it would be the biggest pizza brand in the world by 2020. (Incidentally, Domino’s met that goal that in 2018.)
Ensure Strategy and Vision Align
Once a brand knows what it wants the future to look like, the entire marketing strategy should align with that vision. Every decision — from channel to content — should reinforce that goal. Marketers should be thoughtful and clear with marketing execution.
Panera understands this. The restaurant chain continues to lead the way because all of its menu choices and technology investments support the core strategy: to provide the best food and best customer experience.
Think big by looking at the strategy throughout the entire organization and how it impacts the goal.
Stay the Course
Brands that demonstrate perseverance to the strategy are best positioned for success. Remain organized and patient; reset and regroup when necessary; and refuse to launch new products, services, or ideas that don’t comply with the vision. Ensure that innovation is in line with brand intent. And, most of all, deliver the experience customers expect — or will want as soon as they learn about it.
A great example is Chick-fil-A, which remains closed on Sundays. Despite being open only six days a week, the brand continues to lead in revenue per store in the fast-casual dining space.
All marketing should be authentic to the brand. Keep messages on point and share your successes. Customers appreciate authentic experiences and will show their appreciation today — and tomorrow.