Chief of Communication and Corporate Relations
Canon Europe, Middle East, and Africa
In this “age of responsibility,” how do you see your consumer changing?
Consumers are changing in three fundamental ways. First, with the continuous uptake of the Internet and so much information now readily accessible, consumers have become more knowledgeable about businesses and the contribution they make. With the proliferation of media channels, consumers are also far more sophisticated in their media consumption and understanding of the way the media works. Third, consumers demand value, and that now extends to an expectation of a high level of sustainability across the entire product life cycle, including transparency on labor policies and practices.
What unpredictable factor most impacted how you managed your brand in the past decade?
"In my experience, simplicity has always been entirely more effective than complex brand development and communication..."
The single most important touchpoint of our brand is imaging, and this will only increase in the next five years. Across all industry sectors, imaging has become the principal interface between people and technology, whether as a catalyst in the rapidly changing music industry or more fundamentally in the way we educate people.
What points can you share from your experiences (in particular your experiences over the past year in redefining the Canon brand) that contribute to building a successful brand?
In my experience, simplicity has always been entirely more effective than complex brand development and communication, so a robust, authentic strategy is always better than an over-engineered and somewhat aspirational approach. In short, for a strategy that will last the distance, keep it pure, straightforward, and honest.
How does your brand influence the decisions made at your organization?
The brand and the business go hand in hand and should always inform each other. As such, your brand strategy will influence everything you do across the business. For example, the brand will play a large role in employee training programs through to being at the heart of all external communication.
Born in the U.K. in 1954, James Leipnik started his career with the Canon organization in 1983, initially in the U.K. operation, where he managed various sales and marketing groups before his final appointment as Marketing Director for the United Kingdom and Ireland. In 1999, he was then appointed to develop the planning for the new Canon Europe organization, initially as Chief of Business Strategy before moving to his current role as Chief of Communication and Corporate Relations. He is responsible for the brand reputation of Canon in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa region by ensuring that all communication is aligned to the organization’s stakeholder groups, which range from individual consumers and businesses through to government bodies and NGOs.