CEO’s role in building brands

CEO's role in building brands

CEO’s role in building brands

Outside-In, Top-Down (but never sideways).

I am not sure whether CEO’s are brand-lazy or whether they just feel that “brand” is something for the Marketing Department to sort out. I’m just happy that Steve Jobs had no such confusion otherwise we would have missed arguably the most iconic brand of them all.

When however we look at the tragedy of brand-fails, we’d have to blame the CEO for asking Marketing to do a job which is mostly out of its scope. To set the scene, brand strategies mostly collapse for the following reasons:

  • the brand strategy starts and ends with the logo and corporate identity manual.
  • nobody can relate to the brand promise and it has no meaning.
  • the brand strategy is designed and signed off by the Executive but it is never activated.

In a nutshell, a brand strategy collapses because it comes into the organisation “sideways” from the Marketing Department. The fact that true Marketers are not Brand specialists (left brain versus right brain) is only a contributing factor to brand failure. The real reason is that astonishingly many CEO’s still see “brand” as a logo. But we know that a brand is about the customer “experience”. When enough people enjoy and recognise a similar “experience”, you can say that you have a brand.

It follows that the brand “experience” can only be created by people and processes. Marketing simply articulates or amplifies that experience. If people and processes create brands, then everybody in an organisation affects the “experience” and therefore the brand. The Marketing Executive cannot instruct the IT, Operations, Finance or HR Executives to do things in a certain way – this can only come from the CEO. The CEO must align the Executive team behind the brand and they in turn, must align their teams accordingly.

The creation and successful activation and operationalisation of a brand is dependent on an outside-in approach (connecting to what’s truly important to the market) and internally, a top-down approach from the CEO to make sure that a vision is realised.

Contact Sherpa CEO Gary Hendrickse to help you to craft your brand strategy and activate it in your business.

Sherpa Brand & Design Agency
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