What a CEO Should See In The Mirror
September 13, 2018
I was asked recently why it was so important that the C-Suite be involved in the brand development process. My answer is: brand development is not a marketing assignment. It is a corporate initiative and must originate at the very top echelon of the company or organization.
You see – CEO’s, presidents or the executive leadership of any enterprise are the brand ambassadors. They are the evangelists and chief advocates. The employees, suppliers, strategic partners and even distributors will more quickly buy into the brand promise if they see it coming from the top rung.
In their book, Building The Brand-Driven Business, Scott Davis and Michael Dunn explain that employees must move from hearing about the brand to believing there is a brand to becoming the brand. Once that brand is created through internal discovery (not outside research) and endorsed by the head guy/girl, it will more easily permeate the rest of the organization.
Now that doesn’t mean added work for the leadership, rather, the job of brand adoption must become the critical responsibility of a hand-picked (by the higher-ups) group called The Momentum Group (MG). This group is typically made up of representatives from HR, marketing, production, admin. and other business heads who have the ear of the rank.
“Brand development is not a marketing assignment; it is a corporate initiative and must originate at the very top echelon of the company or organization.”
The tasks of the MG are many-fold but should be primarily focused on education, inspiration and making sure the brand leads by example. By education, I mean creating ways to inform all as to who the company now is, what it does differently from competitors, and why the company does what it does.
It must also create incentive and reward programs that will inspire all to believe in and consistently deliver the brand as promised.
Finally, lead by example. By that I mean, make sure the company is living the brand as well. Many examples of this leadership are found in programs where the employees, and sometimes suppliers and outside contractors all engage in charitable or community giving. This sometimes consists of participating in food drives, putting shoes on needy children, helping out at shelters, rebuilding a neighborhood park and so on. In other words, demonstrating their brand’s purpose, cause, and belief.
According to Andy Primack, President of Vista Metals: “Our brand promise of excellence would be a pretty empty promise were it not for the good work of our momentum group.”
As for marketing, it still has a significant role in bringing the brand to life. Not only is marketing involved in the operationalizing of the brand (Internalizing), but also, the external execution of it. This is through applications to all marketing, advertising, public relations, social and traditional media and promotions.
So if you think about a brand in this more holistic way: discovered at the top, then percolated throughout the organization via programs developed by a Momentum Group and then presented to customers in a very deliverable and now more persuasive way, it’s easy to see why it is absolutely mandatory that a good, deliverable brand promise must start at the C-Suite.