It’s the Highest Compelling Truth that Drives Company Conviction
By Eric Wright
I’ll never forget walking into the large banquet hall for an early morning awards breakfast back in May of 2015. The energy in the room was electric as about 600 people from Central Florida gathered together to honor the year’s Community Impact Award Winners. However, what fascinated me the most was how the host of the event, whom I was just getting to know, Kennan Burch, was able to capture the hearts and minds of an audience that size through an engaging speech and a two-hour program. While the program was stellar, my interest went deeper, to find out what makes this guy tick, and why he is able to command such attention and respect from such influential civic and business leaders.
Burch is the founder of Brand Catalyst Partners, a small but formidable force in the world of brand strategy and corporate culture development. A 20-year brand-building veteran of Darden Restaurants, Inc., he decided to leave them in 2008 to pursue a dream to start a firm whose purpose, he unabashedly shares, is to “bring to life brands that change the world.”
While he was at Darden, Burch and his team were involved in over $1 billion in branding, advertising and marketing initiatives. He says with a smile, “I tell people that to let them know that I’ve made more mistakes than most people will ever have the opportunity to, simply because we had the budgets to do it.” But one of the benefits of working with such a sizable budget was the opportunity to work with some of the best and brightest brand builders in the world.
The gold standard in Burch’s view, and recognized as one of the most celebrated brand builders in the world, is his mentor, Stan Richards, the founder of The Richards Group in Dallas. Richards and his team are responsible for such campaigns as Motel Six’s “We’ll leave the light on for you”; Home Depot’s “You can do it, we can help”; the cow campaign for Chick-fil-A; Ram Trucks’ “Guts. Glory. Ram”; and hundreds of others. They are the most accomplished privately held agency in the United States.
Big Ideas, For the Not Yet Big Company
Burch saw the power of their unique brand strategy process because of the influence Richards had on the direction and culture at Red Lobster during the early 2000’s, when Red Lobster was consistently beating the industry average. However he realized most second stage companies could never dream of hiring The Richards Group to help with their branding strategy. So Burch, with the blessing and encouragement from Richards, embarked on a dream to help the smaller companies of the world to use The Richards Group’s proprietary brand strategy process.
That was 2008. Since then, Burch’s firm Brand Catalyst Partners has worked directly with more than 75 companies of all sizes and industries. When I asked him, “What do you promise your clients?” Very simply, he said, “I want to help them create a ‘contagious brand,’ which is one that naturally grows without a strong need for advertising.”
When I probed a little further and asked how do you do that, he said, “We create inspirational alignment and organizational conviction to deliver on the company’s highest compelling truth. In other words, why the company began, why people love to work there and why customers become raving fans. And, if we can do that together, then the future is bright!”
When it comes down to success stories of happy clients, you can run down a long list. And one of those clients is our own firm, SCB Marketing, publisher of i4 Business Magazine. Burch helped us align on our strategy and our vision which is: “Igniting the power of business to see our communities thrive.” Going through his process helped our company define who we are and who we aren’t, what we say “yes” to and what we now can say “no” to. It unified our team and our messaging and became the deciding factor in many internal discussions. We couldn’t be more excited about pursuing this dream to the benefit of our clients, readers and communities we serve.
Resources You Didn’t Know You Had
CEOs, who are raving fans and clients of Burch, include the likes of Jim Seneff, founder of CNL Financial; Duane Kuck, CEO of Regal Boats; Don Deluzio, founder/president, Trinity Surfaces and Trinity Tile; Matt McLean, founder/CEO of Uncle Matt’s Organic and former president of Organic Trade Association; Dave Krepcho, president, Second Harvest Food Bank; and Randy DeWitt, founder of Front Burner Restaurants (Dallas) and Twin Peaks.
SCB Marketing CEO Jeff Piersall made this comment about Burch: “I’ve hired many consultants over the years, but no one has ever come close to the value and effort that Kennan brought to us. He’s off the charts!”
What I have discovered through working with Burch is that most companies have no clue about how to create an effective brand strategy that will build long-term value for its owners. A brand that helps define who you are, why you are and why and how people can connect with you.
One of the biggest epiphanies I discovered is to “view your payroll budget as your marketing budget.” Your people and the work they do every day are more important than any messaging you can create. So, the question for you is, “are my employees simply coming to work and going through the motions everyday, or are they helping me intentionally build a brand that will have long-term value?” If your answer is the former, then maybe you should get to know Kennan Burch.
To find out more about Kennan’s branding seminar or for him to speak at a leadership/CEO group, contact him at www.brandcatalystpartners.com