Consider this: There are more than 42 results pages of “branding agencies” on Google – each promising to help marketing managers turn their company into the next legendary brand.
Companies spend billions in marketing and advertising campaigns annually to make sure consumers remember their brands. We admire certain companies and remember great brands because they stand for an ideal that is expressed in every facet of their operation…and in every customer interaction.
So why can we only name a handful of brands that we really admire?
Most brands lack leaders. These leaders don’t have to be geniuses/tyrants who micro-manage every nuance of a company’s products and communications (although apparently that works, too). What’s important is thoughtfulness and vigilance at the top.
Often, CEOs delegate branding decisions solely to the marketing department without taking an active role, instead tending to financial or operational affairs. In doing so, they risk committing one of the most underreported business blunders of our time. They give their company almost no chance to become the brand that their marketing department promises to their consumers.
A strong brand is established when the product or service, along with every customer experience, exceeds the expectations introduced by marketing and the branding campaign. Brands are embraced by customers when the product development team innovates, and the customer service organization operates as if they invented the brand message. All company staff, from the receptionist to Accounts Receivable and beyond, must embody the brand message presented to the world. A breakdown at any touchpoint can tarnish or even destroy the brand’s image.
This alignment requires a meaningful, top-down strategy and stewardship from the C-level to provide the proper foundations for marketers (and others) to work from. And that’s why it has to begin with the CEO.
Inverting this structure, when branding is owned and managed solely by the marketing department, runs the risk of marketers making brand promises without the commitment or full support of other departments. The CEO, by contrast, has purview to the broadest possible range of business functions and the responsibility to act to ensure alignment.
To achieve this, a CEO must provide the company with the right tools to succeed. Brand development begins in your mission statement and company charter, which define why you are in business. These inform your brand guide, which spells out your brand’s story, voice, personality, promise of value, and the experience of interacting with it. With these foundations in place, your marketing team can make informed decisions about everything from positioning and identity to channel mix, copy, and creative. In addition, these tools serve as guides for the rest of your enterprise, from HR, Customer Service, R&D, and all other areas. The result is a consistent customer experience with your brand, no matter who they interact with.
At Trellist, we have developed a branding methodology which includes our CEO. With this structure, we established a process that has helped CEOs take back ownership and build the brand their company needs.