Welcome to The Big Picture Blog

We hope to bring you strategic and creative insights into ways Branding and Marketing can fuel growth and change within your organization. Our vantage point is from that of the CEO or an initiative’s leader; the person who must align an organization or entire team around a common vision and a set of strategic objectives. All leaders have a vision of where they want to be in at some defined point in the future and have a set of strategic objectives that must be achieved. So, why don’t all leaders succeed? Why do some leaders and their organizations achieve their visions and objectives while many others fall short? We would all be great visionary leaders beloved by employees, shareholders and customers if there was a simple answer. Not in every case of course, but in many it can be attributed to one or more of the following:

- Lack of a clear vision
- Lack of alignment around the vision
- The wrong mix, or a lack of appropriate resources
- Missed market opportunities and/or unforeseen challenges
- Poor strategic planning

Branding that is inconsistent with the corporate vision or a lack of any comprehensive branding
Marketing that is not aligned with the corporate vision, objectives, strategic plan and branding.
In my opinion, marketing and branding are two powerful tools that can align organizations around a common vision and foster growth and change. Often, these tools are afterthoughts or not given the attention they deserve. As powerful as a strong corporate brand can be, it will fall far short of its potential if not intimately linked to a well defined vision. Vague corporate mission statements like “Excellence in Retailing” (from my May Company days) also do nothing for an organization. “Everyday low prices” however, when built into the DNA of an organization such as Wal-Mart, can be very powerful.

In a previous life when I was an executive recruiter, I placed the VP of International Marketing at Wal-Mart. Robert (the executive I placed) was amazed at how everything that the company did operationally was aimed at reducing cost for the consumers. This was also embedded into all of their marketing efforts. Everyday low prices became a guiding principal that informed all decisions of the company. This can be attributed directly back to Wal-Mart’s founder, the legendary Sam Walton. Because he built this philosophy into the DNA of what was to become the world’s largest retailer, because it is at the core of the Wal-Mart brand, it has been a guiding and aligning force that has been embraced by the executives that have followed Mr. Walton.
Similarly, it is highly unlikely that your marketing will be striking on all cylinders if it is not intimately linked to the brand and corporate vision of the company. You will not have the right products and services, at the right price, in the right places, with the right kind of promotional efforts if your marketing strategies are not informed by the corporate vision and brand. Actually, marketing initiatives that don’t start with vision and brand can take a company off course. Unfortunately it’s common to see marketing going in one direction, and sales and operations in another. This is especially prevalent in B2B companies where marketing is often undervalued and deemed less important than sales and operations.

So what is the solution? Before you embark on branding or marketing efforts, take a step back and be sure you have The Big Picture.

1. Articulate a clear vision for the future
2. Develop a Big Picture Strategy that will bring it to fruition.
3. Align your team of stakeholders around the vision and strategy.
4. Look at your corporate brand. If needed, refine or rework it so that it works internally as well as externally. It should be a guiding force that helps inform all decisions that the entire organization makes and keeps everyone focused on the same vision.
5. Use the vision and brand as the foundation for your marketing strategies. If the vision and brand are unclear, go back to step 1.

As organizations grow and shift, it is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day decisions that arise and lose sight of The Big Picture. Companies frequently run off course, which often prompts leadership changes. If you are uncertain as to whether or not your compass is working, bring in some objective big picture thinking. I know good resource.
Our goal is to bring you a new edition of Big Picture Thinking each quarter with useful and unique insights on how to use strategy, branding and marketing to fuel growth and change. We’ll invite some outside experts in various areas to give their thoughts on how these disciplines can have a powerful impact on your organization.

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