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A picture of Apple CEO Tim Cook giving a talk with the Apple logo behind him
A picture of Apple CEO Tim Cook giving a talk with the Apple logo behind him
Tim Cook, aka ‘Tim Apple’ as our brand-savvy former president called him in a stroke of idiot-genius.

People like to ascribe human-like qualities to brands, because it makes it easier for people to understand and relate to the brand on a human level. People identify with brands the same way that they affiliate with people they like and groups they want to be part of, and the greater that affinity, the more more they identify with the values and the attributes that brand projects into the world.

Leaders of a company or organization can personify a brand by embodying its core values and qualities, and reinforcing the narrative and position they want to occupy. A likable leader…

At one time, ‘managing’ meant planning, organizing, directing and controlling the work of others.

It meant owning the problem- whatever it was- and knowing the most about it; holding all the cards, having the answers, deciding the agenda. Calling the shots and setting the pace.

And that definition of management worked, when the jobs to be done were relatively stable and unchanging; when the information we had to work with was more static and finite; when we could reasonably anticipate what was coming, and when the variables impacting our work could be more easily accounted for.

Management worked when the…

Signs for Burger King and McDonald’s
Signs for Burger King and McDonald’s
credit: Frank Vincentz, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

After spending much of my work the last few years immersed in brand strategy I’ve been thinking about it in the context of fast food, which like it or not is part of our culture in America (Adam Chandler wrote an excellent book on this I reflected on here). My interest may stem from the fact that like much of my generation my first paying jobs were at these restaurants. But fast food brands are ubiquitous, and I think one in particular provides us- in addition to hamburgers that taste like charcoal- an interesting study in positioning.

Mapping brand positions

In a Harvard…

Ben Hill

Change is the why; marketing is the what; learning is the how.

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