Truth Is Just Perception

The Perception Lesson Of The North Face’s Boss

In 1968, Kenneth “Hap” Klopp acquired The North Face – then two small stores, one in San Francisco and one in Stanford. He turned it in one of the most popular and successful outdoor brands in the world.

Interviewed on the Stanford University website, Klopp shares his vision of the role and impact of a brand:

Dick Salomon, the first chairman at The North Face, told me, ‘Products have an ever-shortening life cycle but brands last. They carry an enduring message and belief.‘ Your brand is about you, your culture, and what you stand for. You need to put all of that forward so people can see and feel it.

Most companies have goals that are quantitative, but brand is qualitative. It is about how you carry out your business and what you stand for. It is what makes you stand apart in a crowd. A great brand is cohesive. It doesn’t waste time. When you are consistent with your philosophies, it becomes easier to articulate in the marketplace. An established brand gives you a stronger multiple. Brand durability is an annuity.

(CC) The North Face

(CC) The North Face

In my view, Kenneth “Hap” Klopp highlights the two perception timescales that any company has to manage – short time, dictated by its products and its daily operations, and long time, over which it must embody the values carried by its brand.

A company that ignores one of these two scales or can’t differentiate them is certain to pay the price in terms of image. As I have already pointed out on Superception regarding crisis communication, the management of these two perception timescales is a very delicate matter that is at the heart of the CMO’s mission.

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