All about “The Authentic Brand”

About The Book

The Authentic Brand gives a behind-the-scenes look at a dozen of today’s top entrepreneurs to discover their leadership, management and marketing triumphs and lessons.  These include:

  • Wally "Famous" Amos
  • Jerry Baldwin, Co-founder, Starbucks, Principal, Peet’s Coffee
  • Bobbi Brown, Bobbi Brown Cosmetics
  • Ben Cohen, Ben and Jerry's Homemade
  • Jerry Greenfield, Ben and Jerry's Homemade
  • Gary Hirshberg, Stonyfield Farm
  • Jim Koch, Samuel Adams
  • David Neeleman, JetBlue Airways
  • David Oreck, Oreck Corporation
  • Roxanne Quimby, Burt's Bees
  • Andy and Kate Spade
  • Jeff Taylor, Monster.com

Because of the insights revealed by our interviewees, the take-home value in The Authentic Brand is remarkable and applicable to all types of businesses, regardless of size or industry: After all, leadership and marketing are universal and transcend industry nuances.  Each pioneer has risen to the top amidst an abundance of competitors and started from nothing.  All of the business leaders and brand-builders in this book speak to their customers’ intelligence, and they are about more than just commerce. For example Ben & Jerry have worked actively to make the world a better place; Wally Amos has helped tens of thousands of adults to read; Bobbi Brown donates pallet loads of product to women in need; and Gary Hirshberg brings healthy snack foods into schools and works toward improving the environment.  More than price or the superficial elements of the product, each of these brands resonates with the customer.  There is a feeling associated with these brands – something real and substantial. It is authenticity.
The Authentic Brand is a refreshing real-world business book that can help readers build companies that resonate with their customers and stand apart from the crowd.  It is about leadership and marketing and is based on the practical and real-life experiences of highly successful and prominent, self-starting entrepreneurs.  The Authentic Brand leaves the world of the theoretical behind.  It avoids supposition, academic conjecture, or unsubstantiated conclusions.

In accordance with some of the definitions found for the word "authentic," the one referred to here is: worthy of belief and trust, and neither false nor unoriginal -- in short, genuine and original.

Authenticity produces connectivity with highly satisfied customers through touching people at an emotional level, driven by such product or corporate traits as unparalleled quality, commitment to customer service, true concern for the community, charitable involvement, and the remarkable business cultures these entrepreneurs have created. It is plain, in our contemporary society; we are constantly inundated with commercial messages.  Breaking through this clutter can mean remarkable success for entrepreneurs, business leaders and managers alike.  Our purchasing decisions are influenced by so many factors. These range from packaging (and what it emotes) and the advertising messages we received during our formative years -- to the tone and feel of a company's message about its brand.  How a brand resonates with its customers is also influenced by positive editorial feature stories generated by public relations and personal recommendations or word-of-mouth, perhaps the two most influential factors.  Think about your own purchasing decisions. In the end, sustainability and staying power comes down to the ability of the company to keep its brand promise.  In short, authenticity.

In recent years, consumer product marketing has changed.  Years ago, many companies, particularly the well-known giants, used a mix of print, radio and television advertising to establish their brand.  Today, this model is proving difficult for companies building a new brand from the ground up.  Cost of entry, the dilution of media and the fact that we are bombarded with so many messages limit the feasibility of the earlier model.  Beyond that, today's savvy customer expects and demands more than could be provided through the old advertising model. These days people value and reward companies that provide exceptional quality and service and stand for something beyond profits.

Just as today's consumers choose products and services for the value they offer, they also consider the values of the person or the company behind the brand - - - they are looking for authenticity.  Simon Sinek, an intuitive marketing consultant and the founder of Sinek Partners, says, "People are loyal to companies that offer more than just products and their associated benefits.  They buy a lifestyle, purpose, cause or belief."  The entrepreneurs featured here have successfully connected at this level, offering genuine and original customer experiences - and stand for a lifestyle, cause or belief system.

In The Authentic Brand: How Today's Top Entrepreneurs Connect with Customers, you will gain valuable marketing and business management insights to help grow your company and build a loyal, even fanatical, customer base.

To provide readers with exceptional take-home value, we have included interviews with the following highly-successful and genuinely inimitable entrepreneurs:

  • Ben & Jerry
  • Bobbi Brown, Bobbi Brown Cosmetics
  • David Neeleman, JetBlue
  • David Oreck, Oreck Vacuum Cleaners
  • Gary Hirshberg, Stonyfield Farm
  • Jeff Taylor, Founder, Monster.com
  • Jerry Baldwin, Co-founder Starbucks
  • Jim Koch, Samuel Adams
  • Kate and Andy Spade
  • Roxanne Quimby, Burt's Bees
  • Wally "Famous" Amos

As we learn from the experience of legendary business leaders, it should be noted that the Authentic Brand principal and lessons in this writing apply to businesses of any size, industry, product or service. Moreover, all of the entrepreneurs highlighted in this book started small, often from nothing, and built their successes on fundamentals that can be applied to virtually any company.

After spending time with each of these accomplished entrepreneurs and extracting their formulas for success, we analyzed their commonalities, which serve as compelling themes that comprise our chapters. These include effective leadership traits and beliefs, potent marketing strategies, the power of owning a geographic market, customer service beliefs, methods to really connect with your audience, and the importance of living mission statements.

These shared experiences endow readers with tools that can increase their effectiveness and bond with today's savvy customer.

Though they took their bottom lines seriously, we found that the primary motivator for most of the entrepreneurs with whom we spoke was not money. They all had a higher calling, which was to create intelligent brands that were uniquely positioned and which offered a special brand experience. These companies "speak to their customers' intelligence,"; which has helped generate tremendous brand equity, enabling many of our entrepreneurs to create optimal exit strategies and sell when they were on top.

Some of our findings detailed in this book include the:

  • effectiveness of cause-related marketing
  • importance of having a highly visible spokesperson
  • resultant effect of crafting a compelling and authentic story to emotionalize the brand
  • issue many innovators face, which is whether to fly "under the radar" or be noticed
  • power of "owning" a geographic territory
  • value of standing for something – a feeling, belief or attitude

While we provide a look into how these category leaders profoundly connect with their customers, we examine:

  1. How they have provided a unique marketing advantage.
  2. Shaped the brand and brand identity.
  3. Provided accountability and authenticity.
  4. Differentiated the brand from competitive brands.
  5. Built a loyal customer base.
  6. Provided a flavor or flair that would not otherwise be possible.
  7. Created brand consistency and kept the "brand promise."
  8. Gave back a portion of their success to causes about which they feel strongly.
  9. Formed a company with widespread brand awareness, producing significant brand equity.

Excerpted from The Authentic Brand Book

It used to be that people primarily evaluated products on the basis of price, but this has indisputably changed. Only a few of the companies that we have profiled compete on cost. In fact, many charge more than their competitors. The lesson here is that if you build an authentic brand, there is no reason a business can’t charge $1,200 for a handbag, $750 for a vacuum cleaner, $6 for a one-pound bag of cookies, or $4 for a cup of coffee.

Just as today’s consumers choose products and services for the value they offer, they also consider the values of the person or the company behind the brand—they are looking for authenticity. Simon Sinek, an intuitive marketing consultant and the founder of Sinek Partners, says, “People are loyal to companies that offer more than just products and their associated benefits. They buy a lifestyle, purpose, cause or belief.” The entrepreneurs featured here have successfully connected at this level, offering genuine and original customer experiences — and stand for a lifestyle, cause or belief system.

All of the business leaders and brand-builders in this book speak to their customers’ intelligence, and they are about more than just commerce. For example, Ben & Jerry have worked actively to make the world a better place. Wally Amos has helped tens of thousands of adults to read. Bobbi Brown donates palette-loads of products to women in need. Gary Hirshberg brings healthy snack foods into schools and works toward improving the environment. More than price or the superficial elements of the product, each of these brands resonates with the customer. There is a feeling associated with these brands—something real and substantial. It is authenticity.

Today, many successful and popular brands are created without an advertising budget. How is this done? How can a company create a dedicated brand following? Can a company be steered strictly by consumer-centric or customer-driven needs? What brand or corporate characteristics command our attention and why—and how does emotion come into play when creating strong customer connectivity? How are “sticky” brands born and sustained? How do an entrepreneur’s leadership traits and styles shape the building of a brand? What are some of the key ingredients needed to build brand equity such that when the business is sold, it demands top dollar—selling for a multiple of revenues that ignores all logical accounting principals or formulas?

I contemplated each of these questions before I spoke with these entrepreneurs. Therefore, this book evolved into an examination of how contrasting, highly successful business leaders have built devoted brand followings through non-traditional marketing and management practices.

  • Today, many successful and popular brands are created without an advertising budget. How is this done?
  • How can a company create a dedicated brand following?
  • Can a company be steered strictly by consumer-centric or customer-driven needs?
  • What brand or corporate characteristics command our attention and why -- and how does emotion come into play when creating strong customer connectivity?
  • How are “sticky” brands born and sustained?
  • How do an entrepreneur’s leadership traits and styles shape the building of a brand?
  • What are some of the key ingredients needed to build brand equity such that when the business is sold, it demands top dollar – selling for a multiple of revenues that ignores all logical accounting principals or formulas?

Each of these questions was considered before interviewing our entrepreneurs. Therefore, this book evolved into an examination of how contrasting, highly successful business leaders have built devoted brand followings through non-traditional marketing and management practices. For these reasons, the marketing intelligence and essentials for creating genuine, connective brands - found in the words of these entrepreneurs - is priceless.

In the Authentic Brand, I chose to use the experience of these prominent entrepreneurs to provide an excellent motivational tool for aspiring entrepreneurs, seasoned business leaders, and all professionals who are growth-minded and students of the art of business, marketing and brand-building. We will examine how these business leaders profoundly connect with their customers and:

  • Provided a unique marketing advantage
  • Shaped the brand and identity
  • Differentiated the brand from its competition
  • Built a loyal customer base
  • Created a flavor or flair that would not otherwise be possible
  • Maintained consistency and kept the “brand promise”
  • Gave back a portion of their success to causes about which they felt strongly
  • Formed a company that established widespread awareness
  • Generated significant brand equity and corporate value

This book was originally conceived while I was enrolled in an intensive course on entrepreneurship at MIT that was suitably named “Birthing of Giants.” The Birthing of Giants is a three-year, MBA-modeled curriculum created by Verne Harnish, founder of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), in conjunction with the MIT Enterprise Forum and Inc. Magazine. Each year, the program brings together 60 young entrepreneurs under the age of 40 who are founders or managing partners of companies grossing more than a million dollars in annual revenues. The program was designed to identify and bring together the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders and to provide the blending of practice and theory that is required to succeed in today’s business environment.

As a member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (formerly known as YEO) since 1999, I have attended dozens of learning events in conjunction with various EO chapters globally, as well as the Young Presidents’ and World Presidents’ Organizations (YPO and WPO respectively). During this time, I have benefited greatly from the learning that occurs from the experiences of others with similar challenges and aspirations. As Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, once said, “Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.” I cannot say enough about these powerful groups for entrepreneurs and corporate leaders. They harness the power of shared learning through peer-to-peer support and education.