Episode #040: What Great Brands Do with Denise Lee Yohn
In This Episode of The Buyer’s Mind with Jeff Shore:
Denise Lee Yohn, author, brand expert, mountain climber and dancer engages Jeff in a lively discussion about brand. When we start to think that brand is just a part of marketing, we’ve lost sight that frontline salespeople are the first engagement with a company brand. So having a salesperson’s core beliefs coincide with a company’s core beliefs is a very high priority. Do you believe in your organization? How well do your core values align?
If there’s a misalignment on brand you’ll never succeed because you’ll never do your best work. #BuyersMind #Sales
Topics we’re going to cover on today’s podcast:
[1:51] Quote of the Day
[3:13] Sales Tip of the Day
[6:38] Defining Brand from the Customer POV
[7:36] Some of Our Favorite Brands and Why
[15:56] What Great Brands Do
[21:05] Little Things Count
[25:39] The Importance of Core Values Aligning
[29:34] Climbing Kilimanjaro
[36:46] Motivational Summary
More about our guest Denise Lee Yohn:
Denise Lee Yohn is the go-to expert on brand-building for national media outlets, an in-demand speaker and consultant, and an influential writer.
Denise is the author of the bestselling book What Great Brands Do: The Seven Brand-Building Principles that Separate the Best from the Rest (Jossey-Bass), the e-book Extraordinary Experiences: What Great Retail and Restaurant Brands Do, and the highly anticipated upcoming book FUSION: How Integrating Brand and Culture Powers the World’s Greatest Companies (Nicholas Brealey, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, March, 2018.)
Denise enjoys challenging readers to think differently about brand-building in her regular contributions to Harvard Business Review and Forbes, and has been a sought-after writer for publications including Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Knowledge@Wharton, ChangeThis, Seeking Alpha, QSR Magazine, among others.
With her expertise and inspiring approach, Denise has become an in-demand keynote speaker. She has addressed business leaders around the world, including The Art of Marketing in Toronto, EXPO Marketing in Bogota, Colombia, and Entrepreneurs’ Organization in Australia.
Denise initially cultivated her brand-building approaches through several high-level positions in advertising and client-side marketing. She served as lead strategist at advertising agencies for Burger King and Land Rover and as the marketing leader and analyst for Jack in the Box restaurants and Spiegel catalogs. Denise went on to head Sony Electronic Inc.’s first ever brand office, where she was the vice president/general manager of brand and strategy and garnered major corporate awards. Consulting clients have included Target, Oakley, Dunkin’ Donuts, and other leading companies.
Links from today’s podcast:
Jeff: How does your customer define a brand, and what is your role in helping them to do just that? We’ll talk about it on today’s episode of, “The Buyer’s Mind.”
Announcer: Welcome to “The Buyer’s Mind” where we take a closer look, deep inside your customer’s decision-making mechanism to reverse engineer the perfect sales presentation. Now, please welcome your host, Jeff Shore.
Jeff: Well, welcome everyone to “The Buyer’s Mind” where we investigate exactly what is going on in the minds of prospects who are considering a purchase decision. That’s what this podcast is all about, it’s about taking a stroll through the buyer’s brain. It’s about knowing that customer so well that the sale begins to roll out right in front of you. I’m your host, Jeff Shore. You can read the full bio in the show notes or you can hop over to jeffshore.com and while you’re there you can sign up for our free weekly video newsletter, a little Saturday morning inspiration to help you on your sales journey. Joined as always by our show producer, Mr. Paul Murphy. Hey, Murph, give us a sense of one of your favorite brands. When you think about stores, or companies, or organizations, give us a favorite brand and why you like it.
Murphy: Oh, there are so many, right. So, Sony. Sony is great just because of the quality that they deliver in the products that they make. And then Apple. I love Apple just for the reliability of their products and the user interface is just intuitive, they just work.
Jeff: Absolutely. And we’ve got a great show today on that subject. We’re gonna be talking to branding expert and a really interesting human being, Denise Lee Yohn. Denise is the type of person that you wanna have over for dinner, or perhaps a climbing mate if you want to scale Kilimanjaro. We’ll get to that in a little bit. But let’s start with our quote of the day from the guru, the genius Tom Peters, and this is what he says. “All of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies. Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called ‘You’.” I love that quote. It doesn’t mean that you don’t support your organization and its brand. It means that there is a sub brand that you need to pay attention to.
And as you listen to our interview with Denise Lee Yohn in a little while, be thinking about that. How do these things apply to your personal brand? We can look at it from the organizational brand, but I think we’re better off asking ourselves, what is my personal brand and how do I grow that? Well, we wanna let you know that the podcast is brought to you in part by our good friends over at HomeStreet Bank. Not just our show sponsor, this is also my lender of choice. I used HomeStreet in my last home purchase and I have to tell you, smoothest transaction I’ve ever had, and I’ve purchased quite a few homes. Professional, dependable, great rates, great service. If you’re a real estate professional, you’re just not gonna find anyone better to take care of your clients. So, they can do it all, banking, home loans, credit lines, you name it. Go to the homestreetbank.com to learn more, that’s homestreetbank.com.
So, here’s our tip of the day and it is consistent with our theme. The tip is to find your branding niche. So, here’s the question. What are you doing to stand out even in a very small way? How are you differentiating your personal brand? So, the concept here is that if you’re a sales professional, if you’re a front-line sales professional, it is not difficult to look like every other front-line sales professional, but that’s what your customer expects. And when you can find even small ways to differentiate your brand, little things that you could do that show you are not like every other salesperson, your customer knows that, your customer remembers that.
So, I’m thinking of a sales person I know that makes it…absolutely makes it a point to remember the names of the children. So, if a customer is coming in and they’ve got their kids with them, that’s what this sales person does. Always always always makes it a point to know the names of the children, and to repeat that back later on and parents really appreciate that. Or I think of my friend, Shawna Schuh. Now, her last name is spelled S-C-H-U-H, but it’s pronounced “shoe.” So, I don’t think I need to tell you what her personal brand is, and she’s usually got a little brooch on and with, you know, a sparkly shoe. And it’s the idea, it just makes her just a little bit more memorable.
Or I think of a good friend of mine who had played professional baseball. And in his sales presentation, he finds a way to bring that up. It’s not to brag, it’s just to stand out. It’s just to be able to mention it a little bit. He actually is a little self-effacing because he wasn’t in the majors for very long. And he makes a quick joke about it. But again, it causes him to stand out. What about you? What are you doing to stand out, even in a very small way? How are you differentiating your personal brand? Before we get to our interview, I wanna tell you about an opportunity here and that’s to be involved in our 4:2 Academy.
Our 4:2 Formula Academy, this is an intensive training program specifically for real estate sales professionals where we’re using modern selling strategies and skills just for today’s buyers, just for today’s market. The 4:2 Formula is the core real estate principle that we talk about at Shore Consulting, but it’s gonna give you several days and actually spread out over the course of an entire quarter, a program that’ll allow you to just transform your presentation. We’ve put so many people through the 4:2 Formula Academy, always with tremendous results. You can go to jeffshore.com/events to learn more about the 4:2 Formula Academy.
All right, let’s get to our interview. I’m excited here to talk to Denise Lee Yohn. She’s an award-winning branding genius. She is a highly accomplished business speaker, the author of the seminal book on branding entitled, “What Great Brands Do.” She’s consulted with some of the top brands around the world. She’s a regular contributor to the “Harvard Business Review,” and just a slew of other publications, and she’s appeared on a host of television shows. And, to top all of that, Denise can also brag of having climbed Kilimanjaro and, by the way, has danced ballet professionally. So, we’re gonna have to figure out about all of that stuff. Please welcome Denise Lee Yohn. Denise, how are you?
Denise: I’m great. Thanks for having me on your show, Jeff.
Jeff: Absolutely. So, let’s start here with kind of what you do by profession. You’re a branding expert, and I just wanna make sure we get on the same page because that means a lot of things to a lot of different people. So, give us just that 10,000-foot flyover on how you define the brand, and specifically for the purpose of our podcast, how that brand is defined from the customer’s point of view.
Denise: Well, you know, from… Okay, I’ll start with, from an organization’s point of view, I would say that your brand is what you do, and how you do it. Now, in business school like they’ll give you the official definition which goes something like, “Your brand is the bundle of values and attributes that define the way that you do business, and the value you create for customers.” But, basically it’s what you do and how you do it. And so, from a customer’s point of view, I would say it’s almost the same thing, it’s like what they perceive you to do and how you do it, and the value that they associate with that.
Jeff: All right. That certainly makes sense. So, just by way of example, tell us some of your favorite brands and why they…well, let’s do this. Let’s go back and forth. You tell me your favorite brand and why. I’ll tell you a favorite brand and why and we’ll see if we’re on the same page.
Denise: Love that. Okay. So, it’s probably very stereotypical for a brand person to say that their favorite brand is Nike, but I have to say that, and I have to say that it’s been my favorite brand since I was in high school, when Nike first…or even maybe before that when Nike first came out. So, this is not like just a trendy thing to say. I really believe that Nike gets me and inspires me to feel like an athlete even though I’m far from it. And so, you know, even though I have heard that its competitors’ products are just as innovative, and they perform just as well, I will always buy Nike running shoes because I just feel an emotional bond to that brand, and to me, that’s what the value of a brand is. It’s that emotional connection, that emotional value.
Jeff: All right. I’ll go next. I’m gonna go with Progressive Insurance, and not just because Jeff Charney, the chief marketing officer is my old boss but because I think they’ve taken something that’s otherwise so stodgy that nobody really wants to think about. And they did a really nice job of making it fun and enjoyable and approachable. And again, from the customer experience, I think that’s all we want, we wanna interact with brands that are fun, and enjoyable, and a good experience. All right. You go next.
Denise: Yeah. Okay. So, along those veins of, you know, brands don’t have to be in sexy categories, like, you know, sporting goods or whatever, I would maybe point to Salesforce as a brand that I really admire. And, you know, I would say in terms of being different, I think that it really has carved out this unique space from a kind of a personality or a kind of character, kind of this emotional appeal standpoint where, you know, I think it’s personal, it’s simple, it’s human, it’s fun. And, while I’m not a Salesforce customer because, you know, I’m just one person and I don’t need a solution like that, my understanding is customers really value, not just the solutions that they provide, but the way that they actually do this. And so, to me that’s a great example of taking something that could be, you know, kind of boring, or just almost commoditized and making it…creating a brand out of it.
Jeff: All right. I’ll do one more and then you’ll have the last one. I’m gonna go with…apologies to our East Coast listeners. I’m gonna go with In-N-Out Burger. And, you know, here in California we love our In-N-Out. And, but I’m gonna stay away from the idea of whether or not it’s the best burger out there. What I love about it as it relates to brand, is that it is so well replicated. Wherever you go it is the same experience. And this is a company that does not advertise hardly at all, they don’t put their name out there and say, “Trust us, this is our brand.” That brand is absolutely created by the customer’s definition based on the experience, but they’ve replicated it and duplicated it so many times that the brand sticks, and you know what to expect and you’re not disappointed.
Denise: Okay. So, thanks for making me drool. You know, like just the thought of In-N-Out Burger is something that makes me really hungry. And yeah, and just for those who aren’t familiar with In-N-Out, I mean, you know, there’s always a line, and there’s just this kind of like fanatical following behind the restaurant, so…and so, okay, so I will kind of take a counterpoint almost and say, with apologies to our West Coast friends, I would call Shake Shack a great brand, although I think it is, kind of, now expanding over into the West Coast. You know, and in fact, I write about Shake Shack in my book, “What Great Brands Do,” because you know, for all the reasons that you just mentioned, you know, the customer experience and just the way that Shake Shack has been able to create this wonderful customer experience consistently across all their restaurants. But, you know, I think that having spoken and spent some time with Randy Garutti, the CEO, you know, they are very thoughtful and committed to what they stand for, and the kind of customer experience they want to create and the kind of employee experience they wanna create as well. And so, to me they have, you know, all these different ways that they stand out and are different, and create value for everyone who’s involved with their business.
Jeff: When we look at those five examples, I find it very interesting that we picked five examples where the, and we didn’t talk about this, you know, we didn’t plan it out in advance. but ultimately what you find here is that there’s a brand that the organization would like to have, and then there’s a brand that the customers ascribe to an organization. So, you know, right now, and it’s, I also have to apologize because it’s just so easy to pick on this brand, but the CEO of United Airlines has a very different image in his mind of what the brand is than what you’re gonna find from most of their customers. Is it safe to say that the best companies are the ones where there is brand alignment? That is, that the brand that the customer…that the organization would like to project, is in fact the brand that the customers experience.
Denise: That’s a great way to put it. And I would say that the key to closing that gap or what those companies who don’t have that gap have, is a culture, a company culture that is aligned with their brand. And that’s actually the topic of my next book which I know we’re not here to talk about today, but really it’s, you know, if you are on the inside what you aspire to be on the outside, then there is no gap. There is no disconnect, and you can be not only authentic, you know, so both your employees and customers trust you, and know that, you know, you are doing what you say you’re going to do. But you also have a more sustainable platform for differentiation and value creation because you’re doing something very different and people can’t copy that. So, your people can say, “Oh, we’ve got the best burgers,” you know, and for a while they might be able to fool people into thinking that, but at the end of the day, if you don’t have that culture or you don’t…and that culture doesn’t manifest itself in this customer experience, then, you know, you don’t have that brand. So, I think you’re absolutely right. It’s the alignment integration of brand and culture that creates this seamless identity for a company.
Jeff: So much of our audience is made up of front line sales professionals. To what degree do those people affect the brand identity? How much of this do we own as individuals? Because again, we tend to think of brand, we tend to think of corporate branding and we think, you know, the Nike swoosh, and iconic Coca-Cola cursive, but it’s so much more than that. To what degree do front line sales people affect that brand identity?
Denise: I think a great degree, a very large degree. And, you know, that’s simply because in many ways, what you’re selling, you know, and I’m thinking kind of more in like the B2B space where you’re selling software, or some sort of technology, or some sort of industrial product, the person you’re selling to, you really are a representative of the brand, you are the brand to them. And so, that’s why I talk a lot about how the best people are, or best sales people, are really brand evangelists because they have both the opportunity and I think, the responsibility to really, you know, embody this brand, believe in it so much, you know, believe that what they are offering to their customers is the absolute right thing for them and they make sure that their customers understand that and really understand why. And so, I think that there is so much influence that a sales person has on the understanding and value that a customer ascribes to a brand.
Jeff: Let’s talk about the book, “What Great Brands Do,” and this is a book that has been just very very highly reviewed with very positive responses. And you point out a number of important factors here. I’m gonna throw these seven key points out and I just want you to just give me a sentence or two on each one, as to what it means to you. So, the first, that great brands start inside, start from the inside. Tell me more.
Denise: Yeah. great brands start brand building inside, like, developing that internal culture that I was just talking about. They know that without having this foundation of a strong purpose and values to unite, and align, and motivate their people, they have really nothing worth communicating on the outside.
Jeff: All right, so, this is the contrast of the advertisement that you get is just advertising if you know deep down in your experience as a customer, that when you get to the store it’s not gonna look like that at all. And that really started from the inside, or it started with the people being committed to whatever that brand identity was gonna look like.
Denise: Yep, you got it.
Jeff: All right. Great brands, this is the second one. “Great brands avoid selling products.” Now, careful here, you’re in the sales space, Denise. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Denise: Yeah. I know, I know. Yeah. Well, you know, I think great brands know it’s far more effective to, you know, almost like seduce people through an emotional appeal than try to push their products on them. And that’s because we human beings are emotional beings and we make decisions based on how products and brands make us feel. Even in a B2B, or a highly complex, or highly technical sale, there’s still that gut that people rely on for their decision making. So, rather than selling your product, make an emotional connection.
Jeff: Yeah. Love it. It’s interesting. Just yesterday I had made the decision just over this last weekend that I was gonna take my wife to dinner at the French Laundry up in Yountville in the Napa Valley. This is a great brand as far as restaurants go, the French Laundry is a world renown brand. Thomas Keller himself is a great brand. Here’s the problem, getting in is almost impossible. So, they’re not selling their product, they’re just putting together a product that is so in demand that you can’t even get it. And I think that’s really the pinnacle of anybody out there that has something to sell, right.
Denise: Absolutely. Did you get in, and did you have a great time?
Jeff: I am working on it, and we’re not in yet. So, anybody who’s listening who might be the nephew of Thomas Keller, please give me a call. All right, here’s the third. “Great brands ignore trends.”
Denise: Yeah. You know, I think that we’ve all been trained to follow trends because, you know, that’s how you remain relevant to your customers. But when you follow trends, you end up following what everyone else is doing. And you often then, kind of, are blinded to truly breakthrough new ideas. So, great brands, kind of, ignore trends, or at least they challenge them. They are very aware of what the trends are, but then they advance their own movements in their own direction.
Jeff: Right. And the obvious danger there is that by the time you jump onto the trend, there could be another trend. Now you just look silly. All right, our fourth here is that, “Great brands don’t chase customers.”
Denise: Yeah. This is about not squandering your precious brand equity trying to chase after everyone, you know, trying to be every, all things to all people. Great brands know who they’re for, and then they clearly, consistently, and intensely project their brand identity to attract those people. So, they’re not chasing after customers, they are almost operating like a lighthouse and inviting the customers they want, to navigate around them.
Jeff: This is, to me this speaks of Southwest Airlines. They know who they are, their self-identity is very, very strong and they’re looking at it and saying, “If you’re looking for a meal and first class, this is not your airline and we’re not gonna apologize for that. We’re gonna go to people who want friendly, who want lower fares, and who want convenience.” And they know their market very well.
Denise: Yeah. And, you know, and look how they’ve been so profitable throughout the years.
Jeff: Sure. Yep. Number five. “Great brands sweat the small stuff.”
Denise: Yes. Sweat the small stuff in the customer experience, you know, so the things that you do one on one, or in person for a customer are gonna far outweigh the impressions that you make when you are advertising or marketing. So, great brands design their…carefully design their customer experiences to bring their brand alive and convey the brand value in everything that they do.
Jeff: Yeah. This is, when I’m shopping at the Apple Store I love the fact that the person who is the expert there can ring me up and email me a receipt, and it’s just, it makes it, they make it so easy to buy. And I actually, I guess I wouldn’t call that the small stuff but from the customer’s experience, those little things make a huge difference.
Denise: Well, yeah. I mean, the fact that it’s just seamless, you know, it’s easy. That’s what people not only want but expect today.
Jeff: Yeah. Yeah. Actually I am reminded of another example here. Very recently I was at a restaurant, a business lunch in Charlotte, North Carolina, and at the very end, the food server, when she comes over, I’ve already paid, I’ve already given my credit card. She brings it back in that little portfolio. But as she’s heading me the portfolio, she takes the credit card out of the top and hands it to me, separately. And I’ve never had that happen. Said, “Why did you do that?” And she said, “Well, we know the horrible experience that people have when they can’t find their credit card because they left it at a restaurant, it happens all the time. I just didn’t want that to happen to you.” And that’s a great example of a small stuff type of thing that caused me to look at it and say, “I know the horror of leaving your credit card at a restaurant and how…that feeling.” And that’s it, a little tiny detail that took two seconds but still made a big impact on that small stuff scale.
Denise: Yeah. I have a story like that also, if you don’t mind me sharing.
Jeff: Please. Yeah.
Denise: This was a while back, but I was at an airport ordering a Pinkberry yogurt and I got a cone, you know, and the cashier, you know, she makes my yogurt on the cone, and you know, she’s holding the cone and she is ringing me up and kind of struggling, you know, to ring me up and hold this ice cream cone for me at the same time. But, you know, she did it so that I could easily give her my credit card, sign the check, everything, put my wallet away and then take the cone from her and eat my yogurt. And, you know, reflecting back on that I thought, it would have been so much easier for her to like hand me the ice cream cone and be, like, “Hey, you deal with how difficult it is, like, wanting a third arm.” You know, but she like clearly thought about, “How am I gonna help this customer?” And, a very small detail, just like the credit card thing, made a big impact.
Jeff: Love it. Love it. The little stuff is the big stuff. That’s great. Number six. “Great brands commit and stay committed.”
Denise: Yeah. So, commit and stay committed to the core of your brand. You know, it’s so easy to get off track. There are so many opportunities, so many ways you can say yes, but I think some of the greatest brands say no, because they know that they need to be very clear about what they stand for and what they don’t, and will be willing to reject new opportunities, new products, new services, new employees, it could be high performers but who are going to destroy your culture. New customers who look like they might be lucrative but are gonna nickel and dime you. And yet, so great brands are willing to say no in order to build a long-term value for their brand.
Jeff: Yeah. I love it. It sounds like the difference between telling a customer, “We can’t do that,” which is not true, and saying, “We won’t do that and here is why.” You know, we’re so quick to say, “We can’t.” It’s like, “Well, yeah. I think you can.” It just ticks me off as the customer. I would rather you tell me you won’t and give me a reason why, so. All right. And then finally, “Great brands never have to give back.” That’s an interesting one. Tell me about that.
Denise: Yeah. You know, and please don’t misunderstand me. You know, there’s nothing wrong with giving back, it’s good to give back, but I think that great brands have to have asked themselves, you know, “Why merely, you know, do good when we can actually be great?” So, it’s not a matter of, you know, trying to make a charitable donation, or engage in some sort of philanthropic activity, but it’s about, how do you design and run your business so that you make a positive impact on society and the environment, so that you are creating value in the very way you run your business, as opposed to, kind of, taking with one hand and then giving back with the other?
Jeff: So, this is the organization that says, “Well, yes, it’s true we treat our people like crap, but we just wrote a big check to this, you know, hospital or whatever, so we…it’s all good.”
Denise: There’s far too many of those.
Jeff: Yeah. I think you’re right, I think you’re right. Yeah, yeah. Do you ascribe to the concept of a personal brand being distinct from an organizational brand?
Denise: Well, yes. I mean, you know, these principles, these brand building principles that we just went through, apply to a personal brand but like for example, as a sales person, you not only are building your own personal brand but you’re also then representing your organization brand. And while I think that they should be and can be very complementary, they are distinct. So, I think you need to be thinking about, you know, what is the value that you contribute specifically as an individual, you know, salesperson? And then what is the value that organization contributes as well?
Jeff: Well, yeah, it’s interesting. I’ll meet sales people, from time to time, who are clearly out of alignment, their personal, their values, their…you know, what they stand for, reflects into their brand and oftentimes they find that it is at odds with their own organization. And I’m like, “Run, don’t walk, run.” Because if there’s a misalignment on that brand there, you’re never gonna succeed and you’re certainly not gonna do your best work.
Denise: Right. And that goes back to this whole concept of being a brand evangelist. You know, if you go back to like where evangelism, you know, the term came from, it was back, you know, when Jesus and His disciples and blah, blah, blah, whatever. But they truly believed in what they were “selling”. Right. They truly believed that the world would be better, and that people would be better, if they believed in their message. And I think as a salesperson you need to believe that as well, and to your point if you don’t, you’re probably not in the right job.
Jeff: You wrote on a blog recently that…with the topic that shopping is a form of self-expression. Can you elaborate on that a little bit?
Denise: Oh wow. Yeah. Okay. So, you know, I think that there are so many ways that you can “shop” today, that the choices you make reflect your personal values. You know, think about, like, what…how different yelling out an order to Alexa as you are walking out the door is from, you know, making a trip to a shopping mall, and going through a bunch of, you know, stores looking for what you want, versus you know searching on your phone while you’re riding the bus, for something, you know, versus going to a bespoke store that you love and that they know you by name, and they provide you personal service. All of those says different things about you as a person and as you, as a shopper. And I think that if retailers and sales people can understand what a person is trying to express in the way that they make purchase decisions, in the way they choose to shop, and if they can then address or connect specifically with that, they will, you know, make a much stronger connection with that customer and more likely translate that shopping into an actual purchase.
Jeff: Yeah. It makes perfect sense. One last question here. Well, maybe the second last question. But, you’re a branding expert but you also talk a lot about storytelling. How do branding and storytelling work together?
Denise: Storytelling is a great way for brands to communicate their value and communicate their differentiation. And so, that’s why you see so many brands engaging in, you know, what we call like content marketing. You know, I would say that there’s kind of an overemphasis of storytelling though, and I’d rather see a lot more story doing, you know. I’d rather see brands do remarkable things and then get their people, get their customers to talk about it, as opposed to relying on creating their own stories to share themselves.
Jeff: Yeah. This is something that I love to talk about when I’m working with sales people. The only story that really matters is a story that the customer will tell once they have left your organization. What are they going to say to people around them? It’s the only story that really matters.
Denise: And that’s why customer experience is so critical, right. I mean, you know, you can say anything that you want in your advertising and marketing, but if you don’t deliver on that, the likelihood that your customer is gonna share about that, you know, that’s really what’s gonna impact people’s perceptions.
Jeff: Yeah, yeah. And before we wrap it up, I had read that you had climbed Kilimanjaro and then I thought, well, that makes perfect sense considering that she was a professional ballet dancer. Come on, come on, come on, connect the dots for us, Denise, this is…normally you don’t put those things together in the same sentence.
Denise: Yeah. Well, you know, it’s funny because I was actually reading an article about someone who does a lot of climbing. And they said that they had to do so, they had prepared by doing a lot of yoga because they felt like they needed to have balance and agility. And I was like, “Oh, well, yeah, that kinda makes sense.” You know, Kilimanjaro was simply because I was turning 40 and I was having a hard time with that. And so I was like, “Okay, I’m gonna do something that, you know, makes me feel young and makes me feel like I can accomplish something.” But, you know what Jeff, I have to admit that the operative word here is, climbed Kilimanjaro. I actually did not summit and that is a hard thing for me to admit because, I mean, my whole life goal was to summit the mountain, but I ended up getting, like, extremely ill. There were things coming out of my body in all directions that we don’t need to talk about. But, you know, just what I learned from that experience is that you have to set the goals, and even if you only get, you know, two thirds or three quarters of the way there, you’re better off setting the goal and chasing it than not having the goal at all. And so, I can say that I climbed Kilimanjaro and had a wonderful time.
Jeff: Yeah. Yeah. That’s fantastic. And I frankly love the idea that you were turning 40, and that was something that you wanted to prove to yourself, that age is a state of mind. And we are kindred in this, by the way, Denise because at age 52, not knowing how to ice skate, I decided I was gonna play ice hockey and now I play on two different teams and I’m like a little kid out there. And one of the reasons why I did it here, because I’m 55 now, one of the reason I did it was just to prove I can, that I can, that age is a state of mind. And I’m gonna speak on behalf of Denise to everybody who is listening right here, “Just do it.” There’s no state law that I know of that says you can’t do crazy things. And we’re not that old anyway. The professional ballet, real quick here, just touch on that.
Denise: Yeah. Yeah. So, this is when I was much younger, as a child almost, I had danced professionally when I was growing up in St. Louis Missouri with the St. Louis Ballet Company. That was the most awesome experience not only because it taught me discipline and focus, you know, as, you know, a young girl, the most important thing, you know, is to learn how to, you know, hold still, and, you know, be focused or whatever. But it really got me comfortable with being on stage. And so, now as a professional speaker, I love being up there and I love inspiring and teaching people, and it…I really draw upon that experience of being on stage for so many years.
Jeff: Yeah, that’s fantastic. That is just great. You sound like just a fascinating person who just wants to just live every day to the full. I love it. I love it. Denise Lee Yohn, you can follow her. We’ll put this in the show notes but it’s Denise L-E-E Y-O-H-N dot com, deniseleeyohn.com. And there you’re gonna figure out how to follow her on Twitter, and LinkedIn, and everywhere else. You can also see her writing in “Harvard Business Review”, Forbes”, “Business Insider”, all over the place. You can also hop over the Amazon to buy any of her outstanding books. Denise, such a great pleasure having you on the show. Thanks so much.
Denise: Thank you Jeff.
Jeff: All right. Murph, don’t you love Denise’s energy?
Murphy: Huge energy, right. Very, very exciting person to talk to, and lots of insights into brand management.
Jeff: Right, right. I just, you know there is a lot of things that you shared in the content that were inspiring to me, but I’m always inspired by people who just carry themselves with that obvious energy. You could just tell that there’s a joy in her voice that was really, really great to hear. But now, that said, I love some of the deeper dive discussions on brands. And it’s funny, I think as consumers, we’re all, you know, our own sort of brand evaluators, we’re constantly looking to determine what makes a brand great. Murph, you didn’t get into this conversation where we were going back and forth on some of our favorite brands. Did you wanna weigh in on that? Was there one particular brand that you would throw in there?
Murphy: A lot of the stuff that you guys talked about between United and Southwest, and I phoned both, and I haven’t had a bad experience with United, but I have a better experience with Southwest. They just make it fun.
Jeff: Absolutely. And it’s one of their core values. And it starts into…well, Denise was talking about that, right. The idea that they start, great brands start inside. And of the seven points that we walked through there, I think that that is the most important point, that great brands start inside. We think about great branding, we think about, again, the iconic logos, and the famous commercials, but great brands start internally. And what the customer experiences is simply an outpouring of what’s happening inside the organization.
And that’s really where I wanna challenge our audience more than anything else. I just wanna ask you, what is your role in promoting the type of brand that your customer wants to have? Let me just ask you that one more time. What is your role in promoting the type of brand that your customer wants to have, and to be identified with? Because we can, as front-line sales professionals we can erroneously look at it and say, “Well, the brand is something that our marketing department takes care of.” And it’s absolutely not true. The brand is defined, more than anything else, by the interaction that a customer has with the person on the front line. So you’ve gotta ask yourself the question, “What is my role in promoting, in offering the type of brand that my customer really wants to be a part of?”
And this can happen even in a small way. So, even in some of the examples that we talked about on today’s episode, whether it’s the food server handing me the credit card, or the Pinkberry clerk who’s holding on to the cone so that Denise can pay, what are even those small little things that will make a huge difference in the customer experience and that will help promote the type of brand that you want to be identified with? And then, finally, I would say one other thing, and that is to those of you out there right now who are saying, “I don’t like my company’s brand,” I’m gonna suggest to you here that your first approach should be, “What can I do to change that? How can I affect it in a very, very positive way?” But ultimately, if the brand misalignment is based on a misalignment of core values, then you need to do something else. It’s impossible to be successful in an environment where you are at odds with your own organization over your core values. So, wrap that up, do something different. Life is too short to spend your time in an organization, or in a place where you do not feel like you’re finding that alignment.
Well, let’s head into the wrap up, and I just wanna ask you this question, “Do you stand out?” Or maybe I could ask it another way, “Do you even want to stand out?” Because you cannot stand out from the crowd when you do the same things as everyone else. What can you do today that will cause you to stand apart? And I wanna give you one specific idea along those lines, and that is to suggest that you can out-care anyone. I wanna suggest that when it comes to who you are, you can go out of your way to so pour yourself into the person standing in front of you, that you can out-care anyone. Now, I’m gonna ask you the question, what would that look like? What would that look like? Could you apply that today? Could you apply that to the next customer that you talk to? How can you out-care every other sales person? What can you do today that will cause you to stand apart?
Well, we hope you’re enjoying our podcast. If you have subscribed, thank you so much. If you wanna leave a review on iTunes, that would be great. What we’d really love is a post onto your social media page. Could you think about doing that right now if you’re enjoying the podcast? Post a link to your social media page. That’s a wrap on today’s episode of “The Buyer’s Mind.” You can find everything you need on Jeff Shore.com. But until next time my friends, you know what to do. Go out there and change someone’s world.