272. His Track Record Building Brands Set Him Apart from the Crowd
Jim Gregory and his wife had rocked along in their ad agency on Madison Avenue for 20 years, enjoying the creative work and their clients, but they suffered from lack of differentiation from competitors. After much thought, they decided it was time to apply to their own business the best advice they gave their clients.
James R. Gregory is the chairman of Tenet Partners, a global brand strategy and marketing firm based in New York City. He is a leading expert on measuring the power of corporate brands and their impact on financial performance and serves on the Board of Directors of Tervis Corporation. He is also a member of the Marketing Accountability Standards Board (MASB). Jim has written five books on branding including his most recent one, Powerhouse – The Secrets of Corporate Branding.
How Did You Start Using Your Talents?
“If I go back to the starting point of my career in advertising and communications, it was in elementary school. As a matter of fact, when I was in grade school I won an honorable mention for a poster contest. I was an artist as a young child and in college I studied graphic design. So I really had a clear idea of what I wanted to do, and I went to New York and did it. I was very fortunate early in my career. As soon as I started the business I met my future wife and business partner, who worked on Wall Street at the time.”
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
“A lot of our accounts in the beginning were publishing accounts: Scientific American magazine, Business Week, The Wall Street Journal. We were doing nice little campaigns for them. About 20 years into it, we realized we were not really being differentiated.” Jim and his wife took some time away to focus on their company’s future. “We needed to specialize in some area. I found that some of the biggest successes we had—and the most enjoyment I got out of a campaign—was when we worked with CEOs of major companies on their corporate campaigns. Reader’s Digest was also one of those media publications. We were able to talk to them about their initial public offering (IPO). We did a major advertising campaign to position the company as much more than just the magazine—to be a global marketing powerhouse. We decided that’s what we wanted to do: focus on corporate branding.”
The Most Powerful Lessons Learned?
“I think it’s very important to give yourself time to think, to be able to sit on a bench and think about what fulfills you in life. Give yourself time to think about it because it does take time. You need to be able to think clearly about your future, and do the things that give you fulfillment. I’ve kept journals, and I take a sketch book wherever I go. That has inspired me often to think in terms of things that are interesting and intriguing to me.”
Steps to Success from Jim Gregory
1. Give yourself time to think about what really fulfills you.
2. Find a way to differentiate yourself from the pack and develop your unique brand.
3. Keep a journal or a sketch book with you wherever you go. Use it.
On His Bookshelf
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, by Malcolm Gladwell
Marketing Corporate Image, by James Gregory
Leveraging the Corporate Brand, by James Gregory
Branding Across Borders: A Guide to Global Brand Marketing, by James Gregory
The Best of Branding, by James Gregory
Powerhouse: The Secrets of Corporate Branding, by James Gregory
Connecting With Jim Gregory
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