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Brand-led organizations gain strength from their shared vision
And they deliver long-term positive impact
China is becoming a genuine brand land. We are now flooded with numerous brands down the street, up in the outdoor billboard and popping out in the Internet page. The smartest brands are moving beyond simple product ads to marketing the brand experience. Enabled by unprecedented technologies, entire industries are connecting with customers and one another in new ways.
Leading brands have taken deep dives into big data to generate insightful breakthroughs. They tap into purposeful positioning and give rise to consumer bonding and immersive customer experience that optimizes the depth and breadth of the brand promise. Innovative communication in the digital age bridges the connection between the brand and its audience. Barriers between brand and customer are disappearing.
Within this context, brand building has become too important to be left just to the branding or marketing functions. To deliver consistent and outperforming brand experience throughout consumers' lifecycle, all staff in the company, from R&D to sales, should be organized to share and live the same vision. In our "Marketing 2020" report, the most comprehensive and global leadership initiative ever undertaken, we explain how to build a brand-led organization with a common vision. We identified these five drivers of organizational effectiveness:
1. CONNECT BRAND TO THE BUSINESS STRATEGY AND TO THE ORGANIZATION
Brand strategy should not be isolated. It should be embedded in the organization as part of business strategy. Great marketers don't passively align their department activities with the company strategy. They actively engage in creating it. Leading companies go further to put marketing and other functions under a single leader. A year after Antonio Lucio was appointed CMO of Visa, he was invited to also lead HR, shaping the marketing recognition across the organization.
2. INSPIRE BY ENGAGING ALL LEVELS WITH THE BRAND PURPOSE
Employee engagement serves as the best tool to build brand ambassadors. In the more connected world, employees can be the interface of your brand – creating the first tangible consumer experience. It is always crucial to get everyone on board with irresistible messages and programs. Some high performing companies have started to measure employees' brand engagement as a key performance indicator. Google performance appraisals assess employees' "Googliness," for example.
3. FOCUS PEOPLE ON A FEW KEY PRIORITIES
Less is more – that's the power of focus. Focusing the organization on selected priorities, rather than on oceans of objectives, will bring surprise. Successful organizations often measure brand success against Key Performance Indicators, such as revenue growth and profit, and tie incentives at the local level directly to those KPIs.
4. ORGANIZE AGILE, CROSS-FUNCTIONAL TEAMS
From our perspective, marketers fall into three categories: "Think" marketers who apply analytic capabilities to tasks like data mining; "Do" marketers who develop content and design and lead production; and "Feel" marketers who focus on consumer interaction and engagement in social media and online communities. Thus, great market leaders need to be the orchestrators to lead and oversee the cross-function teams.
5. BUILD THE INTERNAL CAPABILITIES NEEDED FOR SUCCESS
Successful organizations never stop growing their people because the return-on-investment is a more effective operation. The best marketing organizations, including those at Coca-Cola, Unilever, and the Japanese beauty company Shiseido, have invested in dedicated internal marketing academies to create a single marketing language and way of doing marketing. No matter if you are a marketing rookie, senior manager or at the director level, there is always a valuable take away to apply in your work.
Great strength starts within, and internal effectiveness contributes to the external strength and financial success. It is time to beef up the organizational efforts to develop a high-performing marketing organization. How your organization looks and acts serves as the proof of where your brand is heading. Too many marketers get lost in creating buzz and generating temporary sensation out there. Instead, take the time to rethink about how to make your organization a better one. The road less taken, investing in building a unified brand-led organization, will deliver long-term positive impact. Your organization is your invaluable asset, so make the best of it.