It’s Hard to Build a Solid Brand

by Onyeka Nchege on July 1, 2015

Developing a BrandJust like pictures, a brand is worth a thousand words. When we see a bitten apple on the top of a computer or a circled tri-star on the hood of a vehicle, we know that we are getting a quality product that has been built by a company with a solid reputation. The immediate, positive recognition of these icons by consumers shows that companies like Apple and Mercedes have effective brand strategies. Brands are the identifiers of and differentiators between products and services offered by an entity and it is the strength of that brand that determines the consumer base.

In addition to brands triggering immediate recognition to consumers, they are also essential building blocks to an organization. Brands allow the individuals within organizations to rally behind a set of common values and goals that aid in strengthening their identifier and differentiator. In other words, the many individual roles within an organization function as one team under their brand.

In each organization where I have served as the CIO, I find it essential to create a brand for the IT department. Our brands not only signify the products and services we offer, but they also send messages of loyalty, promise, collaboration and stability to our teammates in the overall organizations. A quality logo means we are not going anywhere anytime soon; it serves as a compass, guiding our actions and endeavors. As we strengthen our brand through positive practices, our teammates can trust us to offer innovative and comprehensive solutions and services to their business needs when they see our logo throughout the organization.

As an individual, I have also grown to understand the importance of strengthening my own personal brand. Our personal brands are built on the same premises as those of an organization. Consistent, positive interactions and quality experiences with your consumers will grow and fortify your consumer base. As individuals, we do not tend to think of ourselves as having consumers, but every communication we have with other individuals, be it verbal or non-verbal, determines our consumer base. And how we choose to communicate with our consumers determines the strength of our brand. Hence, the product we are offering is ourselves. For a basic example, the individual who takes the time to address everyone they encounter with pleasantry is going to have a stronger brand than the individual who offers a scowl and negativity to all they encounter.

Brands are symbols – images that represent a greater idea that a group of people can rally behind and believe in. Our brands, whether they are at an organizational or individual level, help in identifying the reputation around our products and services. When our consumers see our names or logos displayed, we want them to have that immediate, positive recognition. And following that recognition, we want them to assess and utilize our offerings.

Take Action: Whether on a professional or personal level – decide who you are, brand it and then live up to it every time.

Leadership on the GO…..It’s O.N.


“Transitions” is The New Life Defining

by Onyeka Nchege on June 15, 2015

goldfish jumping - improvement and career conceptWe tend to look at our lives as a timeline, moving from one point to another. It is only human that we organize our lives in this way – we remember the big moments; the good and the bad. Getting married, losing a loved one, going to college, the birth of a child – I refer to these as life defining events, because, as you live these moments, it often feels as if your life as you know it is being defined for the future.

When I think about the notion of events, I think about a singular point in time – a time stamp, if you will. But does time stamping something make an event scarier than it needs to be? What if, however, we called these life defining events transitions? When you transition, you move from one state to another. There is a sense of movement that seems to flow, a natural order of things. In the context of the timeline of our life, this then takes the pressure off the points of the timeline and brings focus to the dashes that connect those points.

I recently learned that a colleague of mine and her husband have faced a new transition in their lives. The husband was laid off from his job of nine years. Whoa, right? When I first heard the news, I didn’t immediately think of it as a transition. Transition is NOT the first word that pops into the minds of most when we hear that someone has just lost their job. Job loss is an event that falls into the category of life defining, and because these events are often accompanied by drastic, unexpected change, we usually are troubled with how to respond. What do we do next and where do we go from here are questions we tend to ask ourselves during these events – but it’s all about perspective. When comparing the following two statements, note how perspective and attitude modify the impact of the occurrence.

    1. I was laid off from Blank Company.
    2. I am transitioning from Blank Company.

An adjustment of perspective and attitude contrasts an event happening to you versus you moving from one thing to another. Our scary/anxiety levels are less when addressing these events as transitions, because when something happens to us it is out of our control; but when we are moving from one thing to another, we are in control. When we are in control, we are able to plan the needed steps to meet our goal of getting to the next point on our timeline. It is how organized and productive we are in the dashes between those time stamped events that allows us to absorb the fearfulness of such changes.

In my own respect, my recent decision to leave Coca Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated and move to Interstate Batteries put in motion a series of life defining events that impacted my family as well as my former and current teammates. My wife and children are transitioning to living in another part of the country and building new relationships. My former teammates at CCBCC are transitioning into new roles due to a restructuring of the organization since my departure. My IT@IB teammates and I are currently transitioning into a new operating model that is continuing to evolve with each step we take together. We are all simultaneously living in the dashes having recently been impacted by “life defining” events, which I choose to call transitions.

I liken this process to reading a book where we are transitioning from chapter to chapter until we reach the end of the book. A mere shift in perspective and change in attitude on how to view and respond to our events as transitions allows us to look forward to turning pages and starting our next chapters. Maybe we will transition from parent to grandparent, or from software developer to event planner, or from an individual contributor role to one with supervisory responsibilities. Rethinking what labels we are using to mark our events, life defining or not, will help us in looking at our lives in chapters. As we review these chapters in hindsight, we are able to see all that we have learned, accomplished and overcome along with those time stamped events that were often the catalysts for our transitions. Looking back, we will see that it is how we spent our time in the dashes between those transitions that determined how we moved forward to the next life defining chapters.

Take Action: We all face life defining events at some point in our personal and professional lives. Decide today to view it as “transitions” and make the necessary adjustments to push toward your new NOW.

Leadership on the Go…It’s O.N.


Feed-Back to Advance-Forward

June 3, 2015

In the coming weeks LeBron James will be contending for his 3rd NBA championship. With proven talent as great as his, I am sure many believe he has nothing left to learn in regards to the sport of basketball. However, in numerous interviews LeBron himself has stated that he only gets better when he heeds […]

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Altitude of Attitude Affects Aspiration

May 15, 2015

In 1953 Sir Edmund Hillary was the first man to stand on top of the world. In the brief fifteen minutes when he was on the tallest peak of Mount Everest, he had just enough time to take some photographs and say a prayer thanking God while burying a crucifix. In one of the interviews […]

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Take A Bike Ride To Sustain Success

May 1, 2015

You’ve heard the old adage – “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.” This philosophy has stood the test of time because it works. We face challenges every day in both our professional and personal lives that require planning, action, persistence and even failure. When facing a challenge for the first time, […]

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