Now at the helm of Brand Rules, LLC, Charles “Charlie” Hughes is considered one of the nation’s foremost experts on branding, marketing and organizational culture. Brand Rules, a consulting consortium Hughes founded in 1999, harnesses his decades of experience in shaping, building, and sustaining great brands. He describes the firm's mission simply: “To set our clients apart in an over crowded marketplace. We help cut you out of the herd.”
To spell out how to and how not to do that, Charlie and co-author William Jeanes published their first book, Branding Iron, in September 2006. Subtitled Branding Lessons from the Meltdown of the US Auto Industry, Branding Iron has earned critical acclaim both in and outside of the Auto Industry. Ad Age selected it number two on their ten books you should have read in 2006.
Charlie has worked on 11 automotive brands, both domestic and import as well as at the Doyle Dane Bernbach advertising agency. He has headed marketing for U.S. operations of Fiat, Lancia, Porsche-Audi and Volkswagen. However, Charlie is best known for his successes with Land Rover and Mazda.
As the founding CEO of Land Rover in North America, Charlie built a fully operational organization and dealer body in 15 months. He grew the business from 0 units in 1986 to 22,000 in 1998 and in so doing created the luxury sport utility segment by successfully introduced Range Rover and then Land Rover to Americans. Along the way Land Rover broke new ground in automotive retailing by creating Land Rover Centres—a truly branded retail experience—and founded Land Rover University to create passionate retail associates to staff Land Rover Centres.
More recently, he served as President and CEO of Mazda North American Operations. During his employment with Mazda, Hughes redefined and established Mazda’s position in the U.S. and Canadian markets as Mazda…“Always the soul of a sports car!” and employed the popular Zoom-Zoom advertising campaign.
Charlie holds a Master's of Business Administration in Marketing from Simon School of Business, University of Rochester and a Bachelor of Arts in History from Lafayette College in Pennsylvania. He has served on the Board of Directors for Land Rover North America; Dillard University, Board of Trustees; Chairman, Mazda Foundation; St. Francis Medical Center Foundation Board; UCI, Graduate School of Management Advisory Board; Simon School Executive Advisory Committee at University of Rochester, and Chairman of the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers. He recently has joined the Board of Advisors of Mooney Aircraft Company, Inc. and Nerium Biotechnology, Inc.
MOST REQUESTED TOPICS:
What Sets You Apart
A fresh look at branding and how to make it work for you. The majority of people in business today compete in a market that has too much competition, or as I say we live in an over served world. For instance, the car business has an annual excess capacity of 24 million units–the US is the world's largest car market and our annual sales in a good year are 17 million. This speech demonstrates how branding done right is the most effective approach to win in an overcrowded market.
Your Company’s Culture—Friend or Foe—how to make culture your in-plain-sight secret weapon
People are our most important asset, blah, blah, blah. Once you get your head around how to compete in an over served world, most companies next biggest issue is how to engage their own troops. And most companies are failing. Too many executives totally misunderstand the nature and impact of culture in a company. I identify two types, legacy and branded and discuss how to design a branded culture that wins in the marketplace. Most audiences unfortunately identify with legacy cultures because that is what they work in and that is what is killing them.
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