I hate to harp on Best Buy yet again, but boy, when it rains it pours. Best Buy is leaderless and CEO Brian Dunn unexpectedly resigned due to a personal conduct investigation underway and all I could think was what a lucky break it is for Best Buy.
Not lucky in the sense that he was bad at corporate management or that he was a bad person (I guess the personal conduct investigation will clarify that). No, the only way I can evaluate Mr. Dunn is through the perspective of brand. From that perspective, Dunn was failing.
When Stealing Share rebrands companies, as much effort is put into the internal corporate culture of the brand as into the customer facing portion. If they do not occur in tandem, the customer sees the brand as hollow and fake. Before a brand can become important it must first be believed.
As I’ve said in recent blogs, Best Buy confuses its awareness with brand equity. The detriment of this confusion is that brand provides clarity and, in the absence of it, Best Buy suffered. Dunn focused too heavily on best practices and, as such, the brand of Best Buy became only as valuable as the lowest common denominator. Importance flows like a river, high to low. What a CEO believes is important becomes important at the ground floor. Brand must be the driver for the new CEO or Best Buy will continue to hit the same obstacles it is currently trying to clear.
A new CEO focused on brand also ushers in a new corporate culture. A big problem with promoting best practices (beyond their lack of meaning with the customer) is that they are not emotional and are the table stakes in which you must have just to play. But they do not create preference. They also give employees little reason to care because they are difficult to take personal ownership of. As a cooperate culture, it is much easier to live something like “Think Different” than it is to live “best price.”
Best Buy’s Board of Directors should look at this resignation as a fresh start. Wipe the slate clean and take a new approach. Recognize that what Best Buy is missing does not center on operations, but rather on brand. Best Buy is down, but with some meaning it will not be out.