Legacy in the Making: Building a Long-Term Brand to Stand Out in a Short-Term World
April 09, 2018
Mark Miller and Lucas Conley urge leaders to "ask more of themselves and their brands," to build a lasting legacy.
Mark Miller and Lucas Conley's new book, Legacy in the Making, begins with a foreword from Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, who delivers one of the more lengthy and in-depth openings I've read in a long time.
In it, he discusses his motivations for writing his own book, Let My People Go Surfing, over a decade ago:
I did it because as a reluctant businessman, I had learned an important lesson about business: regardless of what you sell, your business itself—including your culture and your values—is your product. […] Brands with long-term ambitions and strong values-driven cultures are increasingly demonstrating that profits and purpose aren't mutually exclusive.
That sentiment pretty perfectly encapsulates the more than two hundred pages that follow. After over six years, doing thousands of surveys and interviews covering 20 countries, the authors and the team at The Legacy Lab came to "the counterintuitive thesis at the heart of this book: the best short-term strategy is a long-term one."
Whereas short-term thinkers focus solely on conventional measures of success such as profits, growth, capturing consumers, dominating categories, and achieving their 15 minutes of fame, modern legacy builders ask more of themselves and their brands, leading to five far-reaching transformations in the way enduring brands are built in the modern age:
- From following institutional practices to leading with personal ambitions
- From attitudinal posturing to behaving your beliefs
- From commanding and controlling customers to influencing social movements
- From obeying orthodox boundaries to pioneering unconventional solutions
- From episodic innovation to perpetual adaptation
Each of those transformations is afforded a full chapter in Miller and Conley's heavily illustrated, beautifully crafted new book from the publishing house of McGraw-Hill. Each chapter is broken up into three separate, succinct ideas illustrated by a different organization that is leading by example. The organizations featured range from Girls Who Code and The It Gets Better Project to The Tribeca Film Festival, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Wimbledon, and Taylor Guitars—quite a diverse array of both big and small in wildly different industries. The common thread is great leadership concerned more with making an impact on the world than a financial profit, and that honors the past while proactively attempting to build a better future. As the authors write:
Enduring success is not about pitting the past against the future. For lasting brands, the answer lies not in choosing sides but in reconciling them. By bringing the past forward and writing history every day, modern legacy builders can act quickly to create long-term brands that stand out in today's short-term world. This is why, now more than ever, the modern legacy mindset is so valuable: Those who can't act fast won't last long.
The best marketing is always simply building a better business. When you have that, you can tell a more honest and direct story about who you are, what you do, and what mark you hope to leave on the world. Somewhat ironically, Chouinard, in his Foreword, writes about how his start in business began with a desire to very literally not leave a mark. He wanted to climb mountains without leaving a trace that he was there, prompting him to design a new kind of piton that wasn't left behind in the mountain like all the existing ones at the time did. His mark will be left on the people his business touches, on the culture of his company and its employees and how that has changed the culture of climbing and other outdoor sports. As such, his comment on Patagonia's marketing efforts makes perfect sense:
For us, marketing isn't about moving goods. It's about moving people.
The first person you have to move is yourself. Legacy in the Making can provide some of the illumination and inspiration to help you get started.
We have 20 copies available.