“You don’t talk about branding, you demonstrate branding,” said Mike Wagner, President of White Rabbit Group, during April’s Iowa NAMA Professional Development Seminar. The Read-Ready Leadership Seminar was held at the Hilton Garden Inn in Johnston, Iowa, April 23.
Wagner advocated the importance of a brand during the one day seminar. “Consumers have the ability, now more than ever, to exempt themselves from advertising messages. Even though you might have a strong brand, it’s a competitive landscape, and companies will experience change,” Wagner explained.
Dan Belzer, Marketing Manager, Vermeer Manufacturing agreed, “Being in a company who recently changed logos, it was timely and very informative.” Belzer noted, “I always enjoy learning from other industry experts about their challenges and successes within agricultural marketing.”
Consumers will continue to sieve out what they see and hear, however emotional attachments between themselves and the brands they buy will continue to deepen. “Quality gets you into the competitive landscape, it doesn’t guarantee a sale. In the next 5 to 10 years companies that offer a commodity and differentiate themselves based upon quality alone will be bought, sold, or go out of business,” Wagner predicts. “In a competitive global environment, it won’t be enough to have quality as your point of sale.”
Wagner advised, “Quality has now become table stakes. It just gets you into the game.” Brand-focused companies are idea rich. Your company becomes a commodity when you stop bringing good ideas to the market place. Organizational leaders have to ask themselves, if they’re ready to move to an intentionally-branded culture, then the brand becomes a business decision-making tool – the driver of your organization.
“No one ever waxed a rental car,” Wagner commented. It’s important in an organization experiencing change that your people are trained to read the moment and know what has to be done and most importantly how to keep focus on your brand purpose. Everyone needs to understand their contribution and know what you need to do. When you don’t have ownership, you don’t make decisions around the brand.
Fernando Valdez, Ph.D., Senior Product Manager, Kemin Agri Foods North America, Inc. saw the seminar as very beneficial to his business, “This topic was presented at a very opportune time for me. Topics and seminars of this kind in the local Des Moines area and with local people make our NAMA membership very valuable.”
Wagner challenged leaders of organizations to prepare their people to be able to lead in any given situation, always focusing on the brand promises. NAMA members reviewed four types of read-ready personalities that make up an organization; Blue (Relationship Specialists), Gold (Achievement Specialists), Green (Process Specialists), Orange (Social Specialists). Personality styles were evaluated in an effort to help build fully-engaged teams and workforces.
“We no longer live in an era of resources; we have to live in an era of resourcefulness,” states Mike Wagner. Shannon Latham, Latham Hi-Tech Hybrids agrees, “The Read-Ready Leadership program challenged me to rethink how we conduct business. Mike emphasized the importance of leading change, regardless of whether one serves on the management team. And as a result, I became motivated to lead change within my own company. I want each person on our staff to feel empowered to ’live the brand.’ Our business will be so much more successful in the long run if each of us demonstrates our company’s brand promise while working with others both inside and outside the organization.