Dany Bahar – The Story Of A Brand Guru

Brand awareness is the buzz phrase of the 21st century’s marketing philosophy. A few decades ago we didn’t talk brand we talked ‘make’. What ‘make’ is your new television… what ‘make’ is your new car… we’d eagerly ask – in an era where brand recognition was not such a fundamental part of our lives as it is today.

But brand – a word which, funnily enough, is derived from the Old Norse ‘brandr’, meaning ‘to burn’, is defined today as a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers’, according to the American Marketing Association. In actual fact the legal term for brand is trademark.

Conversely, in the auto industry, brands were originally called ‘marques’, a word which is still used in reference to motor vehicles. Creating a brand and then making people aware of it to the point that they immediately identify its logo, advertising jingle or such like because of associations in the memory, is what every brand guru sets out to achieve from day one.

Brand gurus are a special breed of people: they have generally created and then grown a ‘make’ until it has become a household name and is respected – even coveted – in the market. Real brand gurus are few and far between – there are probably over 100,000 brand managers for just one ‘guru’ in today’s market and their specialist knowledge, their determination to rise above all others is not the result of training, it’s the product of instinct.

One such man with this special instinct is Dany Bahar, Group Lotus’s CEO, whose career this writer has followed for some years. Regarded by some in the industry as an enigma, Bahar is nonetheless one of the finest brand gurus around today. Why has he been called ‘an enigma’? It’s probably because he has, through much of his recent career, managed to keep his background and private life quiet while at the same time, promoting some of the world’s most recognisable brands.

But these brands were born out of his enthusiasm and nurtured until they became phenomenal global successes. Already a seasoned marketing professional in the field of sports marketing before he was headhunted for Red Bull by Dietrich Mateschitz in 2005, Bahar has nonetheless become known as the man who took Red Bull by the horns and made it a global brand. One of his first moves on joining the company was to negotiate a deal for Red Bull Racing to use Ferrari engines.

During the two years he spent with Red Bull, he had built up such an enviable reputation for – and a global awareness of – the brand, that it remains today hugely successful.

He moved from Red Bull to Ferrari in 2007 where, as Senior VP for the Commercial and Brand Department, he set up a new division within the company, which managed and developed the Ferrari brand around the world. He headed sales and service on the production side as well as marketing, licensing and merchandising for the F1 team. Bahar shaped and tweaked in his inimitable way and the name Ferrari today trips off the tongues of enthusiasts the world over who, if they can’t afford the real thing, have at least some item in their home or wardrobe branded with the famous prancing horse logo.

And now he is at Group Lotus where he is working to a five year plan designed to rejuvenate the company and put the Lotus image, brand and reputation as a world-class sports car and engineering outfit back where it belongs – on a winning streak.

I once asked Bahar to explain his philosophy on branding. “I believe that the brand should influence the people working for it, not the other way around,” he told me. “I also don’t take the traditional approach to brand awareness. With Lotus we don’t do traditional advertising with the exception of one or two special markets. Instead, we focus on brand experience activities – our motorsport engagement is the perfect example of this,” he explained.

And then almost as a throw-away comment, he added: “People should feel our brand and want to become part of it.”

There, in a nutshell, ‘become part of it’ epitomises this guru’s brand philosophy. He has helped to build dreams for people – the carefree and fun image of Red Bull which he created, the aspirations of consumers to want to own a prancing horse, and now the desire to re-ignite enthusiasm for the famous Lotus roar.

Already he’s on track with his plans for the whole brand – just a year into the five year plan, he’s been able to achieve results so far, despite the challenges which faced him when he took over as CEO at Group Lotus just 21 months ago. And just so people get the message that Bahar the brand guru means business, the company’s motorsport side announced in July that it had formed Lotus Sport USA.

In fact, Bahar’s keeping the Lotus brand well in the forefront of motoring circles at the moment for there has been serious talk this week that it will unveil a new LMP2 racer at next month’s Frankfurt Motor Show with the aim of competing at Le Mans next year, starting with ALMS, the American Le Mans.

On top of this, Group Lotus has also just confirmed it will be entering the Lotus Evora GTE in a full North American and International schedule for 2012, with a testing programme starting later this year.

There’s a certain ring around things at the moment Chez Group Lotus – there’s a positiveness at Hethel which, to a seasoned motorsports’ writer like me, tells me that Bahar, the brand guru, is definitely in business – and it’s been a good news week for him as he ploughs through his five year plan, 21 months down and just 39 to go till that final goal is achieved!

Five Ways to Improve Learning With Performance Management

The convergence of learning and performance management creates an opportunity to diagnose and prescribe ways to better develop critical talent. By integrating learning and performance, organizations can more easily identify workforce trends in a more predictive manner, target organizational capability gaps, and enhance connections to build alignment with the business needs.Whether the integration of learning and performance is driven by the organization’s learning group or HR, both groups need to know how to take advantage of this convergence. This paper describes five ways that performance management can improve training initiatives:
Producing development plans that work
Improving leadership development programs
Making learning opportunities more visible
Aligning the training department to organizational needs
Making learning and human resources more strategic
Introduction: Integrating learning and performanceWhen it comes to retaining critical talent, managing succession plans, and giving employees the skills they need to succeed, learning management and performance management processes need to converge.Taking the paper out of the paperwork may be reason enough to automate performance management, but Human Resources (HR) can use performance management to maintain a strong workforce and manage talent to drive top-line performance and competitive advantage. With career and succession planning tools organizations can reduce employee turnover and maintain a strong, productive workforce.However, an organization also needs to complement performance management with learning management that enables workers to build competitive skills and helps align employee training and career goals with business goals. The convergence of learning and performance management can significantly help an organization get the most out its workforce by helping to:
Develop employees beyond assessments with immediate, actionable development
Retain critical talent, develop leaders, and reduce turnover
Control succession risk and reduce the cost of turnover
Align employee goals with the organization’s goals to optimize workforce productivity
Link merit-based compensation to employee performance
Automate performance and development activities and reduce administrative hassles
Whether the integration of learning and performance is driven by the organization’s training group or HR, both groups need to know how to take advantage of this convergence, and in particular, how the training group can improve training initiatives with performance management.The following are five ways that training can use performance management to help create a true talent development framework.1. Producing development plans that workMost organizations struggle to adopt development plans managed independently through the Learning Management System (LMS). When performance management is automated and tied into the learning process, organizations and employees alike are more likely to buy into the integrated development plan. The development plans align directly with the organization’s goals and are therefore linked to the company’s overall strategy. Employee engagement in prescribed learning is certain to improve when employees see how this development ties directly to their performance evaluation and merit considerations.2. Improving leadership development programsLeadership development is one of the most popular learning initiatives – and for good reason. Demographic shifts, increasing employee turnover, and increased specialization in the workplace all contribute to significant talent shortages. Performance management, equipped with career and succession planning tools, provide the diagnostics to zero in on the job functions and targeted individuals that need leadership development the most.Performance management tools help the learning group systematically develop an organization’s critical talent. They can complement generic leadership development programs by helping to account for roles, flight risk, and potential.3. Making learning opportunities more visibleIn most organizations, the LMS is just one of countless other applications employees need to use. Engaging employees to log in and look around can be a challenge.However, an unanticipated benefit realized by Learning customers who have integrated performance and learning is a significant increase in the number of individuals who sign up for optional courses.Once mandatory processes are tied directly to salary increases, LMS usage numbers start to increase. As aspiring employees focus on competency gaps and individual development plans, they spend more time developing career plans with unsolicited development opportunities.4. Aligning training more to organizational needsIn many organizations, budgets allocated for learning and development are among the first to be cut during a recession. An effective way for a training group to change this fact is to prove how training programs directly relate to organizational strategy.With integrated performance management, talent development professionals can see precisely which development is needed most. Aggregated review data, showing competency gaps and aligned strategic initiatives, highlight the areas where learning and development groups should focus. It thus becomes easier for the training group to justify the significance of talent development within the organizational strategy. Many companies that have integrated learning and performance have been able to drastically improve their ability to forecast for and anticipate formal development needs.5. Linking training and HR for strategic valueWhen learning and performance functions converge to create a true talent development framework, both functions benefit by becoming more relevant to supporting the organization’s critical strategy.Traditional organizational development activities important to the business, such as managing mandatory compliance and certifications, are improved by automated tracking and reporting. But there are other strategic areas of the business that need strong formal and informal learning. These include many pressing talent management issues: retaining critical talent, managing succession plans, and giving employees the skills they need to succeed.Truly actionable talent development is only feasible when performance management and learning management converge.Conclusion: Applying the benefits of integrated learning and performanceThe convergence of learning and performance management creates an opportunity to diagnose and prescribe ways to better develop critical talent. Strategic integration enables organizations to more easily identify workforce trends in a more predictive manner, target organizational capability gaps, and enhance connections to build alignment with the business needs. The integration enables organizations to put together actionable leadership development programs for key employees, so they’ll be better prepared for promotion.Learning management system (LMS) solutions are part of our industry-leading unified talent development software suite, which helps organizations build a complete platform for developing more competitive employee skills. Training organizations can take advantage of our complete, best-of-breed talent development solution to make their businesses better – by making the employees better.

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