LASTMILELEADERSHIP.com is a forum to share ideas about how the world’s most successful brands develop deep, meaningful emotional engagement with their consumers.




Where is your brand going?  Powerful brands define positioning visions that bridge the ‘today’ with who they want to be ‘tomorrow.’  Making the decisions required to define, document, and socialize a brand strategy can be anxiety inducing.  Brand strategies are, arguably, the most important decisions a company can make.  Things of this magnitude cause cultural indecision and decision paralysis…and that is okay.

Strategies are based on a brand’s reason for being.  What is your brand’s reason for being?  A brand strategy road map is critical to define the vision, highlight priorities (and non-priorities), and rally the troops around where the brand is going tomorrow.


Design is powerful.  Design is inspirational and emotional.  Great brands harness consistency of creative design in all aspects of consumer engagement: from packaging to logotype development to online branding to creative retail display and merchandising – best in class brands even ‘design’ human interactions to provide the appropriate consistency of experience.

Creative design can make or break a brand’s ability to connect with consumers.  Best-in-class brands use design to convert low-margin commodity goods and services and into desperately desired high-margin indulgences.


Brand strategy and great design only take you so far.  At the end of the day, consumers vote with their wallets and, as consumers, we all look for brands that make emotional connections with us.   Brands that offer engaged experiences throughout the many touch points of our relationship – especially at the point of sale.   In today’s interconnected world, the ‘point of sale’ is often a multi-channel suite of engagements… online, mobile, social, and of course, the 4-wall brick and mortar environment.

Developing powerful consumer experiences requires an orchestrated dance of insights (consumer, shopper, market, competitive, etc.), product offering planning, visual merchandising, sales associate service and knowledge… all backed by predefined success measures and KPIs.

Consumer experiences are delivered in many ways, but human interactions remain the most meaningful and authentic opportunities brands have to connect with consumers.  As with so many aspects of business – it all comes down to the people.  Customer service orientation, product knowledge, and the ability to tell stories can differentiate astounding retail experiences from unmemorable ‘transactions’ – astounding experiences drive word-of-mouth advocacy and repeat business.


Let’s face it, establishing initial consumer relationships means huge investment.  The best brands systematically develop programs to keep the consumer engaged over a long period of time – keeping them ‘coming back.’    Customer Relationship Management (CRM) programs are a critical tool in both product and service companies.  These programs take many forms – from frequent flier and hotel stay programs to punch-cards at the barber and ‘membership rewards’ at the local supermarket.

In the end, loyalty is about developing two-way relationships between a brand and its most valued consumers.  The best loyalist brands continually learn about their consumers and deliver relevant interaction opportunities when the consumer is most likely to be receptive to the engagement.  This is an art and a science, for certain.


Measure what’s important.  As marketing strategists, it’s not enough to just ‘use our gut’ any more.  The most powerful brand teams supplement embedded intuition with a healthy dose of objective analytics:

  • Measuring impact of brand initiatives to prioritize investment
  • Understanding and defining psychographic and demographic consumer segmentation and profiles
  • Developing consumer insights to inform product, marketing, and sales decisions
  • Conduct retail brand audits and mystery shopping to gauge success
  • Optimizing contribution margin through the price vs volume equation
  • Analyzing traffic vs conversion to gauge retail productivity in the 4-wall environment
  • And the list goes on…