I was asked recently why it was so important that the C-Suite be involved in the brand development process. My answer was, and always 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 leaders of any enterprise should be their brand’s ambassadors, the evangelists and chief advocates. Because the employees, suppliers, strategic partners and even distributors will more quickly buy in to your brand promise if they see it coming from the top rung.
In their book, Building the brand driven business, the authors, Scott Davis and Michael Dunn say that employees must move from hearing about the brand to believing there is a brand to becoming the brand. And, 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 org chart.
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 group called The Momentum Group. They typically represent HR, marketing, production, admin and other business heads who have the ear of the rank and file, suppliers and other influencers.
The tasks of the MG is many-fold, but should primarily focus on education, inspiration and making sure the brand leads by example. By education, I mean creating ways to teach and inform all as to who the company is, based on the new brand, what it does differently from all competitors, and why the company does what it does.
It must also create incentive and reward programs that inspire all to believe in and deliver the brand as promised – consistently.
And finally, lead by example. By that, 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 like food drives, putting shoes on needy children, helping out at shelters, rebuilding a neighborhood park and so on. In other words, demonstrating their brands purpose, cause and belief.
According to Andy Primack, President of Vista Metals Corp.: “Our brand pledge 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 as well, the external execution of it 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 percolating throughout the organization, and then presented to customers in a very deliverable and now more persuasive way, it’s easy to see why it is absolutely mandatory for a good, deliverable brand promise to start at the C-Suite.