Opinions about branding by Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal

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Monday, July 30, 2007

The brand council -- an indispensable tool

The implication of being a brand-driven organization is that the organization becomes driven by the marketing function. This is sure to elicit hoots and howls from Finance, IT, Human Resources, and the other back-office mission support functions, each of which believes that it can and should be primary in the organization. The job of the CEO is to look all those other functions in the face and say NOT that they’re unimportant, but rather the opposite: “Your support is critical if our image is to be presented effectively to the public.”

This is where the concept of the executive brand council (or brand council for short)—a multidisciplinary team of executives from each line of business and support function—comes in. (This is strategic thinking item #4--see previous post.) The CEO cannot lead the brand forward alone—the informed advice of key leaders from across the organization is all-important. As Paula Dumas, a senior-level brand marketer at Kodak, says (quoted in Prophet--see previous post), having a brand council means that “brand stewardship is shared by everybody within the company.” Commitment comes from the top through the brand council, and is disseminated out throughout the whole organization.

Prophet says that the executive brand council tackles issues like acquiring new brands, launching new products (brands), and licensing agreements. However, in my view this doesn’t go far enough. In reality, one needs to address all the issues that affect the brand—from positioning, to portfolio management, to employee culture and more—by bringing them before the brand council regularly. This is the only way to make sure that there is genuine understanding of and buy in for the brand takes place, at all levels of the organization.