Branding is not a marketing function. It must be driven by the CEO.

Branding is not a marketing function. It must be driven by the CEO.

Many people think that branding is found somewhere between the creative agency and the marketing manager or department. In fact, branding should not even sit with the Marketing Manager. Branding should actually be driven by the CEO as it is actually a process that drives the entire organisation.

What is marketing all about?
You can have a creative marketing strategy in the same way that you can have a creative IT or financial strategy. Marketing however is a Left Brain function. Linear. Structured. What products are you going to take to which markets at what price through which channels. And how will you promote the product or service.

What is branding?
Most people know that it’s not a logo, corporate ID system, symbol, product or service. You don’t do “branding” when you plonk a sticker on your car. In truth, branding is nothing other than the way that your customers experience you. It’s an intangible, an emotion. A “nothing” that makes up over 60% of the total market cap of Coca Cola. Or about 90% of Rank Xerox.

Once you embrace this idea of this “nothing that’s worth everything”, you start the journey to leadership and sustainability. Perry Chua and Dann Ilicic use this simple little sum to explain branding and how to develop a successful brand.

Design an authentic and differentiating Brand Promise


And align your company to be a Promise (and nothing else).

So when people ask us to “get their message out there”, they are normally surprised when we ask “What message?” Well, we sell widgets, wise guy. Tell the market that we sell widgets. Like, watch my lips china. YOU CAN BUY WIDGETS FROM US. Get it? Now, can we please brainstorm some marketing ideas to sell more widgets? Like, “lets get the brand out there!!” No, I don’t get it china. Not unless you’re asking whether we can sit down and work out what your authentic, differentiating Brand Promise is. You’ve got a “We Aspire to be a Leader” poster hanging in your reception. A leader at what? How? Why? And if you bought into this whole “brand thing” will you go the whole hog and align your company – Sales, IT, Marketing, HR, Production, Finance, Distribution, Purchasing, the whole thing – to your brand promise?

It becomes clear why “brand” belongs to the CEO, whose job is to define it and then drive the brand promise through the business. It doesn’t need large budgets to develop a brand – it does need however the courage to stand out, some creativity, determination, an open-mind, persistence, discipline and belief in a better way, running your business the brand way.

Sherpa runs comprehensive brand DNA sessions for clients so that they can clearly define an authentic and differentiating brand promise. We then help our clients to activate their brands internally or operationally and take the brand promise to the market through an effective communications strategy.

Sherpa Brand & Design Agency
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