17 April 2006

Kevin Keller in Kansas

Few things are as compelling to me as brand and the branding process. For a handful of business students and their professors at Kansas University in Lawrence, Friday was a particularly inspiring day. Kevin Lane Keller, one of the foremost experts in brand strategy paid a visit and for a couple of hours shared his thoughts.

Dr. Keller drew from a series of recent publications, and a few not yet published. He told stories of consulting experiences, how companies have implemented his strategy, and explained the stories behind the ads that most of us only experience as consumers. Two striking observations come to mind in recalling his talk, both from the fast food industry.

First, he asked, "could you ask for a better competitor than Burger King?" I know it has been a few years since I understood what Burger King was trying to do with their brand or who their target market is. Is random chaos really a viable plan?

Next – he voiced an observation regarding Wendy’s. During Dave Thomas’ stint as the spokesperson for the company he was not exactly a spring chicken. But even had he been 18, did they not have a back up plan? It certainly does seem that Wendy’s has been a drift for quite some time.

While these observations are far from demonstrating the depth of the talk, they were certainly entertaining. Thanks Kevin, hope you come back to Kansas sometime soon.