Can a brand be both enduring and relevant? by Roz Usheroff

“In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” ― Eric Hoffer

While yesterday’s post about the milkman and his enduring impact on American society was a wonderful stroll down memory lane, it nonetheless raised a very interesting question.  Specifically, can an enduring brand continue to be a relevant brand?

Based on the fact that the milkman has been relegated to the hallowed halls of nostalgic reminiscences would lead one to conclude that the answer to my question is no.  After all, and in the fast paced frenzy of today’s world where convenience is one of the driving forces of everyday living, the milkman is nothing more than a quaint reminder of a simpler time.

What is the takeaway from the disappearance of the milkman?

Quite simply that one’s brand may lose relevance in the context of progress and the ever-changing circumstances that redefine the roles we play for both our company and the clients we serve.  However, the values that underpin our brand need not disappear as long as we can adapt.

When I think of adaptability – especially as it relates to the values that define one’s personal brand – I am reminded of the story of Denise Foley.

In the following excerpt from my book The Future of You! Creating Your Enduring Brand, I share Denise’s story;

Adaptable Brilliance . . . The Denise Foley Story

Denise is the Chief Procurement Officer and Vice President Purchasing and Payroll with AutoNation.  Founded in 1996 by entrepreneur H. Wayne Huizenga, who is also the founder of Blockbuster Video and Waste Management, AutoNation is the largest auto retail company in the United States.

Over the past 16 years Denise has had 13 different bosses.  Despite these changes at the top, Denise has been successful because she has been open to leveraging her Unique Ability to assume the leadership role within different areas of her company including finance, HR, and now purchasing.

To me she exemplifies the importance of volunteering for important projects, building an effective rapport with her bosses, and being willing to mentor and coach those with whom she works.

Having had the opportunity to share a cab with her to the airport from a speaking engagement in which she was in attendance, I was moved by her calm and certain demeanor that seemed to accentuate the very adaptability that has led to her enduring success.

Now you might ask yourself what Denise’s story has to do with how you can become your own best PR person.  Similar to those executives about whom I talked in my Personal Reflection earlier in this chapter, Denise recognized that while changes at the top can and obviously do happen, her success in promoting her brand value was based on a solid understanding of the organization’s inner workings.  When confronted with a change in management and company goals, Denise looked for ways in which she could become a champion of that change, even if doing so meant that she had to move outside of her apparent comfort zone.

In short, Denise realized that the new skills that were needed to play a different role in her company’s success could be acquired through listening and building rapport with both existing as well as new team members.  It is through this rapport and relationship-building process that Denise did her best PR work.  And by adopting this attitude of service as opposed to being defined by a particular position, Denise established her reputation as a go-to person who could be counted on to take on the tough jobs and deliver the results.

It was clear to me that Denise’s success was based on the fact that rather than being defined by a position, her enduring brand was defined by an attitude of service.

Instead of being known has a “finance” person, or an “HR” person, Denise was known has a “go to” person.  She was a problem solver who’s individual skills or Unique Ability as I call it, enabled her to successfully meet the ever changing needs of her company.  The secret to the endurance of her brand was not defined by a specific title or role.

This is why I always stress the importance of demonstrating how your expertise benefits others.  To be able to do this effectively, you must constantly assess the challenges or needs you are helping your company or clients to address.  As those needs change, you too must adapt your brand to remain relevant.

In this light, is your brand defined by a title or position re “milkman”, or by the problems that you solve.




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