CEO and branding. Slay all the sacred cows

The Role of the CEO and branding

By Tom Dougherty

The CEO and branding are tied together at the hip
The CEO has a big role in branding

What is the role of the CEO and branding? As the CEO of your company you are responsible for the bottom line. You have departments assigned all sorts of activities from marketing, advertising, brand management, HR, IT, and R&D and at the end of the day, all of them report directly to you. You have the responsibility for market share growth and profits and everything you do is focused on the ethical execution of that goal. You are also responsible for the branding of your company. If you leave it to marketing, you will get new ads.

When brands hire Stealing Share to position them to take market share and grow the business, we can estimate the future success by measuring the involvement of the C level suite. Only when the CEO is intimately involved and championing the process are we ensured of success. Why is that? It is simple really. (Read more on the CEO’s responsibilities towards marketing here)

You Must Refocus and Maybe Rebrand

In an effort to refocus a brand from the processes of the company itself into a vital and irrepressible force in the lives of the customers you wish to influence, a lot more that marketing has to change. This is where the relationship between the CEO and branding comes into play.

At a recent meeting with a company who had just gone through our “rebranding process” a marketer was waxing poetic on some message changes that were needed when the COO interrupted to admonish “this is a lot bigger than a marketing message, this is a cultural change for us.” Bravo. It is no less.

If your brand has not been growing at the rate that you desire, odds are there are a lot of problems beyond just a non-persuasive marketing message. There will be operational issues, corporate focus issues, product and service issues, best practice issues and often structural issues that hinder your growth. Stealing Share looks at all of these as well as areas of strategic control. The changes you need to make will ensure success but they need the leadership of those at the top. (Read more about when to rebrand here)

How to Predict Success

Companies that hire us welcome these changes because they want to win. If the changes that we have permission to make are only in the advertising and marketing realm, well, it simply will not work.

So, here is the 10-point success predictor checklist, the top 10 Success Cues if You Will:

1. Does the C suite embrace the changes necessary to win?
2. Is the company willing to slay any and all sacred cows in the service of winning?
3. Is the company willing to hear criticism of current practices?
4. Does the company foster a culture of candor?
5. Is the company purposive as apposed to processive?
6. Does research carry authority?
7. Is truth saluted at all costs?
8. Is the company willing to invest in what it costs to win?
9. IS the company willing to tear down silos?
10. Is the company willing to abandon “that is the way it has always been done”?

The world in which you compete is changing more rapidly every day and yet best business practices often remain stagnant for years on end. Axioms remain unchallenged and as a result, the infrastructure needed to win often has become cumbersome and unyielding. As a result of all this, opportunity exists for the more nimble companies because they have the ability and more importantly the desire to change. If your competition is an established brand who “wrote the book” on the category that you wish to usurp, all the better. It just means that the very advantages your brand possesses are hindrances to your competitor’s ability to react.

CEO and branding. Be Ruthless

In the quest to grow market share, we preach the importance of cutting off the sacred cows at their knees. Often, this is the hardest hurdle to overcome because it requires companies to rethink old adages and to reassess the needs of the target audience as being more important than your own needs.

The process of stealing share demands vigilance. It requires a focus on excellence and the elimination of all extraneous activity. To that end, there are no benign or neutral actions or messages. Who can afford them? Anything that does not further the brand works against it and absolutely needs to be eliminated.

This is the job of the CEO because brand is not messaging, it is DNA. It is as much who you are as it is who you are for. Anything less is, well, simply marketing.

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