I was having dinner with a friend (a CMO at a global corporation), when she explained her frustration with her CEO.
“He just doesn’t understand one of our brands at all,” she said. “He tells our advertising agency different things than I do and it confuses everyone.”
I sympathized. Brand misalignment amongst leadership teams is not only frustrating—it also impedes growth. It’s hard to grow a brand when leaders don’t agree on what it represents.
That’s why it’s so important to have executives across an organization become part of a brand steering team from the very beginning of a branding project. Doing this ensures cross-functional input, decision-making, alignment, and buy-in. Because a brand is a reputation you want to earn—and not just a logo—a branding or re-branding project isn’t for the marketing department only—it’s for the entire organization. And for the greatest success and growth potential, a brand reputation—and all the activities that support it—should be determined by the entire C-Suite.
At The Brand Consultancy, we require a cross-functional steering team from the very beginning because the start of the branding process is as important as the end. After all, it’s at the beginning of the assignment where we determine the important questions to ask that will impact the brand research. And if not all executives see the research, then how will they buy into its results—results that ultimately determine the brand positioning?
Once the steering team decides what reputation is desired, a strategic roadmap is created for the future. And when all leaders have been involved in the entire branding process from the start, they are more easily able to envision a successful end—in other words, they are more easily aligned on how to build a strategic roadmap for future success.
A strategic roadmap is a growth plan. It determines what a company should stop doing, start doing, and keep doing to ensure the brand reputation they want to earn is achieved. By looking at the pillars of the brand, which the entire steering team vetted as part of the branding process, and determining together what activities support each pillar, a roadmap emerges.
The steering team should categorize the ideas on the roadmap not just by pillar, but also by the cost, effort, and impact each activity will have. In this way, four categories emerge:
- Low Resource/ High Impact
- High Resource/ High Impact
- Low Resource/ Low Impact
- High Resource/ Low Impact
By prioritizing the ideas that will have the greatest impact, these categories help leaders align on which ideas will best support their brand.
Once the ideas are chosen, executives should create a plan development framework to deliver on each brand initiative. Answering the following questions will help:
- What’s the goal?
- How are we going to get there? What tactics will we use?
- How will we measure progress? Success?
- Who has responsibility for the tactics needed to reach the goal?
- What is the realistic timeframe for delivering the entire initiative?
Once leaders have aligned not only on the brand reputation they want to earn, but also on the activities that will support it, a brand will be positioned for growth and executives will be positioned to work together to achieve the greatest results possible.