Why CMOs must make brand integral to the company culture

Dan Ratner

Dan Ratner is managing director of branding and communications agency, uberbrand. He has more than 15 years’ experience in marketing, communications and branding and is passionate about branding as an enabler to fulfil organisational objectives. Working closely with uberbrand’s clients Dan works to understanding the current customer perception in the context of business goals and aspirations. Dan works with well-known Australian brands across a variety of sectors including financial services, travel and education.

In a crowded marketplace, a strong brand can mean the difference between success and failure. Unless the brand is an integral part of the company’s culture, it will be impossible to achieve success. One of the most important aspects of the CMO’s role is therefore to ensure that each member of the company understands and is committed to the brand.

A brand is the sum of all the perceptions held about the company. Strong brands demonstrate an alignment between the brand promise and the product performance/customer experience (what is actually delivered). Great branding happens when perception meets goals and aspirations. Everyone in the business has the power to lift or damage a brand and employees that are genuinely engaged with the brand values can help drive better product and business performance.

Social media’s prevalence has created a ‘share everything’ mentality, increasing consumers’ ability to influence perceptions. Employees at every level of an organisation must be strong brand evangelists, advocating and sharing brand values.

To achieve this, employees must understand the brand, what it stands for and why. It is the CMO’s responsibility to cultivate these values in employees. Each member of the organisation, regardless of their role, needs to communicate the brand in everything they do, visually, verbally and behaviourally. A deeper brand understanding creates a sense of ownership and satisfaction that ultimately gets passed on in interactions with customers.

If employees are not already on-board it can be difficult and time-consuming to effectively change their behaviour. Here are some steps to get you started.

1. Have a strategy

The first step is to have a strong brand strategy in place. A good brand strategy helps employees in several ways:

  • it provides focus by defining who and what you are
  • it provides a tangible reason for an employee to believe in a company, creating motivation
  • it guides decision-making by defining what is and what is not ‘on brand’
  • it informs what the company says

A brand strategy should demonstrate how it supports the overall business strategy and should be clearly articulated for it to have the best chance of adoption.

2. Lead from the top

As CMO you must drive excitement around the brand and demonstrate how the organisation is committed to helping employees to ‘live it’. Make sure that employees understand how the brand and positioning affect their particular area of the business. By aligning their direct activities with the brand they will become proud of the brand and want to promote it.

3. Let employees be actively involved

Limiting brand involvement to executive level is a risky strategy and will limit the likelihood of growing a brand-driven culture. People are more committed to a process if they are more involved in it. Make sure there is an opportunity for staff to get involved directly or give their feedback. Well-liked employees can train their peers on the brand to accelerate employee buy-in.

4.Stick with it

Integrating brand into everything a company does take time. CMOs must continually reinforce the importance of the brand. Having a structured program in place to reinforce messages and measure their success will increase the chances of strengthening the brand and effectively communicating with audiences.

Ultimately, making the brand a central focus of the organisation allows the best strategic decisions to be made more quickly and easily. Without brand engagement an organisation risks communicating mixed messages, which can lead to a brand becoming irrelevant to customers. Ultimately this means damage to your bottom line.

Tags: customer centricity, brand strategy

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