Our gifted leader Glen Jackson has been on the speaker circuit a lot lately identifying his 7 Pillars of Preeminence. The 7 Pillars are a step-by-step guide to help brands attain and sustain preeminence in their industry. I had the pleasure of co-presenting with Glen on the topic recently, and dug in a bit on what brand activators and amplifiers are for some preeminent brands and how those activators and amplifiers also exist in any organization, but are sometimes underutilized. It’s up to the organization to utilize them to the max to become preeminent.
So, what do these words mean – especially in the context of business?
Activate (verb): make (something) active or operative; operate, switch on, turn on, start (up), set going, trigger (off), set in motion, initiate, actuate, energize
Think about activating as turning on the lights – what allows you to turn on the lights each morning?
Amplify (verb): make louder, louden, turn up, magnify, intensify, increase, boost, step up, raise
Amplifiers turn up the volume or enhance your activators.
Now for a little story about a woman and her brand activator.
I got a lot of inspiration in preparing for my speech from Netflix. Yes, that’s right. To be exact, the show Chef’s Table on Netflix. One of the episodes features Chef Niki Nakayama of n/naka in L.A. Her activator is the Japanese method of cooking called Kaiseki. Kaiseki is the quintessential Japanese haute cuisine, a tasting course characterized by the perfection of its preparation and elegant presentation. Before Niki went to Japan and learned Kaiseki, she was toiling away in an understudy role at various sushi and Japanese restaurants around the U.S. Once she found Kaiseki, she found her voice. Her differentiator. It made everything click and she was able to follow her dream and open her own restaurant.
Her amplifiers are the locally grown ingredients, the atmosphere in the restaurant, and what I found most interesting, the personal care she gives to each and every guest. She makes a custom menu for every guest that visits her restaurant each night based on if they’ve been to n/naka before, what they ate last time, what they liked, what they didn’t. Paired together, her activator and amplifiers have allowed her to reach the pinnacle of her career, and own a restaurant where diners are more than willing to pay hundreds of dollars for a meal.
Full disclosure here, Chick-fil-A is my core client. They are also preeminent in their space (quick-service chicken restaurant) and industry (quick-service restaurants). How did they get there? By knowing what their biggest activator is – PEOPLE. Chick-fil-A is known for hiring the very best people. How do they do that in an industry that is not necessarily known as a hotbed of recruiting activity? They take great care of their people. This year alone, the company is offering almost $9 million in scholarships to their restaurant team members to attend the college or university of their choice. Chick-fil-A’s other activators and the pillars on which they were built are their food (a simply elegant sandwich made from a whole chicken breast pressure cooked in peanut oil and served on a buttered bun with two crucial pickles) and their industry-changing Second Mile Service approach. Their brand amplifiers? The iconic “Eat Mor Chikin”™ cows, their sports sponsorships, the website, social media channels, the Chick-fil-A One app and much more.
And lastly, what word comes to mind when you picture the “ne plus ultra” of the hospitality industry — The Ritz-Carlton? Service, luxury, exceptional food? Yes, all of the above! Guess what, those are amplifiers! Their activator is again, people. The company’s credo is “ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” That mantra rings true with each and every interaction. They empower their ladies and gentlemen – their biggest asset and activator – to do whatever it takes to serve guests to the best of their ability in a very personalized way. More brand amplifiers are the beautiful surroundings, the fresh flowers and the stunning views.
The next time you interact with a brand or even turn on the TV, look out for the activators and amplifiers that reinforce a brand’s preeminence. And, if you haven’t watched it yet, I highly encourage you to watch Chef’s Table from the perspective of what each chef’s activator is (how they turn the lights on) and what then amplifies their brand. A hint: the plot line usually revolves around their activator. And your brand plot line should also revolve around yours.