Always Know Your CEO's Favorite Brand

If you are trying to be a change agent for your company, it pays to know the brands, thought leaders and authors that your senior leaders look up to.

A few months ago, I was at a conference where someone said that she has been trying to drive change in her division for the last year and feels like she has been pushing a boulder up hill. I asked if she had networked around to see if any like brands have successfully driven that change. She said she knew a few, but the question that came to mind when she listed them was "are any of these companies, brands your senior most leaders love?"

Knowing the brands and/or personalities that someone admires can go a long way, especially if you know what it is that they admire about them. Is it that they were able to extend their product line while keeping true to who they are? Do they have millions of advocates spreading the word on their behalf? Or do they love that they have created a delightful customer experience?



Now that I have you thinking, you may have a light bulb going off around what this could mean for you day to day. Here are five of the many ways that you can use this information to gain traction:

1. Draw analogies. This is for internal speak, but often times analogies are the easiest way to get your point across. Want to become the Zappos of customer service, or the Red Bull of content marketing? Pairing a beloved brand with a desired outcome is like pairing the right wine with the right main course- it just makes everything better.

2. Bring them in. This is by far the most effective of these strategies, if you have the right connections to do so. Bringing in someone well respected to tell his or her story and discuss your idea is like gold. No matter how much experience you may have in what you are suggesting, an outsider's confirmation seals the deal.

3. Stay focused. Always be asking WWXD (what would that brand do). This can keep a team focused on the strategy at hand, and keep the leadership team from having second thoughts as you hit roadblocks along the way. 

Trying to break the industry mold with naysayers in the mix? Remind everyone of what T Mobile has accomplished by going against the grain.

Pushing for market research to drive brand love? Remind them of Dove's real beauty campaign built on one single customer insight.

4. Make decisions. Every good strategy has an equally viable alternative that you have chosen not to follow. When making a decision on which direction to go, using someone's favorite brands as a reference point can be helpful — "Do we want to be Apple or Google?

5. Shower them with tchotchkes (aka, pulling a Hail Mary.) If you need a little extra push, it doesn't hurt to show how much you care. Know someone loves what Starbucks has accomplished? Bring them coffee. However, if they tell you their favorite brand is the Ritz Carlton your piggy bank may be in trouble, so point 5a—it pays to have more than one of their favorite brands on hand.

Have other ideas on how to leverage someone's favorite brands? Would love to hear them.

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