C-Suites Drive Brands and Marketing
A CEO who is detached from the branding and marketing group is an absente
father/mother. I have seen plenty of organizations where the top brass, when asked about brand, values, and personality struggle to give a dynamic :30 second commercial for the organization they are driving. This blows my mind and I hope gives every marketer pause to ask, "Does my c-suite really understand what I do and give me proper direction?"
There has been a plethora of articles discussing who owns a brand. Much of the current writing is in the vein of how brands should respond to customer trends and therefore the customer is the owner of the brand. Other earlier perspectives are from the point-of-view that the Brand Manager knows best and the customer wouldn't know if they weren't told. No matter which perspective or where you land on the spectrum between these points, a vision for the brand must be provided.
For the purpose here, let's focus on where brand ownership is within your organization. Where do the vision, mission, or values come from in your organization? A brand image and statement should be gospel. If the gospel is not being preached from the top of the organization, then what credibility is there behind that message? A brand message delivered in part by a C-Suite level leader will have rippling impact in an organization.
Have you been to those company wide meetings where the sentence, "Now here's Jill Marketer so summarize the marketing and sales plans for this upcoming year?" That's the equivalent of, "go ask your mother/father." Credibility is the name of the game here. A message started at the top of the leadership pyramid and cascaded down through the organization shows engagement, buy-in, and leadership the entire way down. A C-Suite level manager who passes the buck on marketing will eventually find themselves and their organization lost and without cohesive messaging.
I don't think you could say that Tim Cook, Steve Jobs, Jeff Bayzos, or Elon Musk have any misconceptions about their brand or where they are steering it. On the other hand, take the Heinz-Kraft organization or the AB-Inbev (both acquired by 3G Capital). All storied and historically personality driven brands 20 year ago. Do you know the person driving these organization now? Have you seen them tout and defend their brand publicly? How are these organization performing in the marketplace today? The answers are No, No, and Loosing.
The proof is in the pudding. Brands that are driven by the C-Suite, cascaded down to the marketing department and supported and owned by all levels of the organization remain dynamic, strategic, and always learning. I know what organization I want to be a part of. Do you?