Why Brand Strategy is a CEO Responsibility


Video Transcript

Many organizations expect their marketing department to own brand. Our belief is that the CEO is the ultimate owner and sponsor of your brand, along with its close companion culture. According to acclaimed management consultant Peter Drucker, while CEOs have numerous responsibilities, there are four things CEOs and only CEOs
are uniquely qualified to do.

First, the CEO must assess, interpret and make sense of environmental factors that could have enterprise-wide impact on the business.

Second, she or he must be able to clarify for the organization, and for the marketplace, what business are we in and what business are we not in? In different words, what is our business strategy and why do we deserve to win?

Third, the CEO must be able to strike the right balance between current business priorities and future priorities. So the current activities that are happening inside the business that could have immediate impact on this quarter’s earnings, along with priorities of the business that could have implications long beyond the CEO’s tenure at the firm.

And then finally, fourth, the CEO must set the standard for the values and beliefs of the organization, and that’s where both brand and culture fit in. All of that starts at the very top of the organization. The heart of the organization, the ethos of the organization live at the very top. So if the CEO and senior leaders of the organization are not behaving as the brand should, or are behaving as the values of the organization would, no one else will.

Your brand strategy drives how you want your business to be known and experienced by the world. That’s the CEO responsibility. But you might be asking then, what’s the role of marketing?

Marketing’s role is to manage and measure the strength of your brand the same way it’s HR’s responsibility to manage, measure and foster the health of your culture. It’s the marketing team’s responsibilities to be the eyes and the ears of your brand, to maintain its consistency and to put your brand position out there in the world so others understand your place. And yet, expect marketing to be a strong advocate for the brand. Which could look like nudging the CEO and senior leadership when the focus on, investment in, and consistency of the brand are lagging.

In my work with CEOs, I ask, How often are you and your senior leadership team talking about your brand, your brand strategy, and how you want to be experienced in the world? And the responses vary from we never talk about it. To we’re a B2B company and a niche industry. We don’t need a brand. We talk about brand mostly in the context of how our competitors are kicking our butts. To, we appreciate the value of brand, but we don’t really know how to talk about it at the table. All the way to, we obsess about brand and know that it’s a difference maker as we navigate change in our organization or change that we know is right around the corner.

In our experience, these good things happen when CEOs are bold enough to invest in their brand, and some of them are surprising. When you’re strong brand precedes you into the room, your speed to close on sales and sales to right fit customers improves, you get a boost to company value, albeit not overnight.

One of the coolest and most unexpected outcomes is attraction and retention of high-quality talent. That’s good for business because it saves time, resources and emotional bandwidth that comes with hiring and culture building. Other organizations want to collaborate with you and to be associated with you because of who you are. I encourage marketing leaders and CEOs to have this conversation regularly.

Your investment in your brand strategy is always important, even more so as you navigate inflection points of growth and change. The investment in your brand is insignificant compared to what your company stands to gain.

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