Brand management is usually a marketing function in traditional organizations.
Well, it had to start somewhere. The idea of branding products in a multi-product business led to brand managers responsible for advertising, merchandising, supply chain relations, and most importantly, profitability.
Thus, brand management became linked to short-term goals, measured by the fiscal quarter. This has led to many a brand being presented in one way one year and then presented a different way the next – unless the current tactics were working. Ad agencies were (are) being hired and fired based upon this premise.
Branding: strategy or tactic?
I believe in today’s environment that branding should be a strategic process. For either a product or a company, the idea of branding for the short term means tactics that do not usually serve the brand well. Looked at from a strategic point of view, the brand itself should not be “tinkered with” once the strategy is approved at the top levels of the business.
The strategies I’m referring to have to do with the things inherent in the product or company that differentiate it from competition, that provide unique benefits to customers, and that reflect the corporate commitments to stakeholders. It includes developing and sticking with a brand’s personality, story and tone over the years. Commercials and promotions may change over time, but they need to emphasize these brand attributes, not attempt to change them in mid-stream.
Who”s Responsible for Brand Management?
So, who should be responsible for developing those strategies? I submit the product development team at the very inception of the new product idea – with guidance from a strategic branding unit, either residing within the organization and reporting to the CEO, or an impartial outside branding consultant with direct access to the CEO.
In this way, corporate values, mission and vision are served. Trends are recognized and factored into the planning. Competition is evaluated with more impartiality. Risk is spread and individual careers are not measured by immediate profits.
Thus, the brand can mature and develop relationships based upon a consistent brand promise.
Addressing Additional Brand Management Issues
In my next blog I’ll speak to managing the corporate brand, and then do a post concerning brand management in sells-driven companies.