A blog about what is and what could be

7 Things We Can Learn About Branding From the Mafia

The Guardian reports that when the letters of jailed Cosa Nostra boss Bernardo Provenzano were found they were full of insights into his leadership style. The 7 rules he applied to his business could be used as a how-to-manual on how to manage brands.

Rule 1: Submersion
When a company is failing, the first step is to take it below the radar. “Our aim was to make Cosa Nostra invisible, giving us time to regroup.”

Brand Implications
Sometimes specifying what a brand is not, is as important to the integrity of the brand as specifying what it is.

Rule 2: Mediation
“Be calm, clear, correct and consistent, turn any negative experiences to account, don’t dismiss everything people tell you, or believe everything you’re told. Always try to discover the truth before you speak, and remember that, to make your judgment, it’s never enough to have just one source of information.”

Brand Implications
When repositioning a brand different people with different interest will need to be consulted before a course of action can be taken. Understanding the implications of a new position must be measured, weighted and given the consideration to align numerous interest.

Rule 3: Consensus
“Let me know whatever [the people] need,” he wrote to his adviser, “they must expect nothing but good from us.”

Brand Implications
Part of rehabilitating a brand is to open the lines of communication with your consumers. Persuade people that they need you. JetBlue was successful at this when they listened to customer complaints and issued a passengers bill of rights. The CEO made himself accessible through social media channels and as a result JetBule enjoys the #1 customer satisfaction ranking among U.S. airlines despite their missteps.

Rule 4: Keep God on your side
Part of the Mafia’s bid to reclaim the people’s trust and rehabilitate Cosa Nostra with its traditional followers was to assume a mantle of piety.

Brand Implications
When reintroducing your brand present it in a pastoral role – trustworthy and authoritative. Part of winning consumer confidence is attaching your brand to a higher calling. Clorox is doing that with its GreenWorks brand and Haagen-Dazs is doing the same by calling attention to the importance of bees to the making of ice cream.

Rule 5: Be politically flexible
“Links were to be forged behind the scenes with politicians who had no trace of connection to scandal or sleaze.”

Brand Implications
Changing alliances gives brands the flexibility to grow. Nike recently launched an eco-friendly shoe, Jordan XX3 which required a new manufacturing process, materials and partners. The result is a change in business practice but not philosophy. Nike still delivers on the promise of performance and technology but now in an eco-friendly way.

Rule 6: Reinvention
“When I got out of prison,” Giuffrè recalled, “I found Provenzano a changed man; from the hitman he once was, now he showed signs of saintliness.”

Brand Implications
Once known for low prices and even lower worker wages, environmental issues has become a chief initiative of Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott, who laid out three environmental goals for the company: to be supplied 10 percent by renewable energy, to create zero waste; and to sell products that sustain not only company resources, but the environment. To achieve this, last month Wal-Mart formally introduced an environmentally minded packaging scorecard that evaluates suppliers based on the sustainability of their packaging and rates them against their competitors.

Rule 7: Modesty
During his career, Provenzano transformed himself from a hired thug, to business investor, political mastermind and, ultimately, strategist and leader. To emphasize his humble character and present himself as a simple man of the people he would write letters full of spelling and grammatical mistakes, and always signed off with the same humble apology: “I beg your forgiveness for the errors in my writing …”

Brand Implications
When a homemade commercial posted by a high school student for the ipod touch started getting major hits on Youtube, Apple executive bought the rights and aired it as an official Apple commercial. When you credit others for the success of your brand you engage people in ways that they seek you out, hence advancing your bottomline.


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This entry was posted on April 21, 2008 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , .
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