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Business Observer Friday, Nov. 13, 2015 6 years ago

Are you brand savvy?

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Whether you are a CEO, CMO, or just a Moe, everyone should be aware of the basics of branding if they want to be successful in business.
by: James R. Contributing Columnist

Whether you are a CEO, CMO, or just a Moe, everyone should be aware of the basics of branding if they want to be successful in business. It doesn't matter if you are part of a Fortune 500 company, or if you are the sole proprietor of a candy store — the same general principles apply. Making your brand a standout will help your company become more profitable, grow faster, beat the competition and you'll be able to charge more in the process.

Here is a survey of 10 questions that will help you test your brand savvy:

Does your company have a written strategic business plan?
OK - this is an easy one. Of course every company, no matter the size, should have a business plan and because the world is constantly changing the plan should be updated and fine-tuned every year.

Does your company have a written brand strategy that integrates with the strategic business plan?
This may seem redundant, but actually a brand strategy focuses on how the marketing will be implemented to achieve the goals outlined in the business strategy. To put it another way, brand strategy always follows business strategy.

Does your company have a title of Chief Marketing Officer - “CMO” (e.g. any marketing title is permissible if that executive is responsible for all marketing activities within the company)?
The CMO title is a relatively recent phenomenon, but the responsibility for managing the brand and marketing of your company is a constant.

Is your CMO responsible for developing the annual marketing budgets?
How your marketing budgets are established goes a long way to telling how brand savvy you are. If you zero-base them — building them from the ground up and tying the budget into the business plan and identifying how success will be achieved — you are well on your way to being brand savvy.

Is your CMO held accountable for meeting specific targeted goals?
Accountability is achieved when the goals are met or missed, but the goals should be financially oriented and educational in nature. In other words, whether your campaigns win or lose you should always be learning and achieving knowledge about what works and why.

Does your CMO report to your CEO?
“C-Suite” doesn't always mean that an executive has full access to the CEO. The role of CMO is so important to the survival and growth of the company. We believe that the CMO reporting to the CEO is essential for optimum results.

Does your CMO conduct quantitative brand tracking of your product brands and corporate brand on an annual basis?

Quantitative market research of your key constituencies is important for growing both your product brands and your overall corporate brand. It is even better if the quantitative research is tied into a ROMI (Return on Marketing Investment) model.

Does your CFO understand and help you to account for the growth of intangible assets like brands?
Because brands are intangible assets they are not reported on a balance sheet even though they hold significant value and can be managed to create a premium value on both the retail price of products and enterprise value. Your CFO and CMO should agree to an exact measurement method and model that works for reporting of brand value for your company financial review that can be repeated every reporting period.

Are corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainable practices measured and evaluated as part of the overall business and brand strategy?
It just makes good business sense if your company is seen as a good corporate citizen. Seeking out and using sustainable business practices is not only good for the environment but it's also something that is being viewed as essential by the greater community - including your customers. In studies we have conducted, good CSR programs also pay dividends in terms of value creation.

Are your employees considered brand ambassadors and do they receive training in how to better project and protect the corporate brand?
Your employees are the front line of your business. Periodic training of every employee will reinforce their importance to the company and will help them understand how they make a bottom line contribution to the company.

If you believe your company is more than just a name on letterhead or packaging, if you believe your brand is an ever-evolving and organic aspect of your organization, if you make active efforts to manage and maintain your brand — you are on your way to becoming brand savvy. Those of you out there who count themselves among the brand savvy — we salute you. Keep fighting the good fight, keep growing your brand, and keep creating value.

James R. Gregory is chairman of Tenet Partners, a brand innovation and marketing consultant. He has written four books on creating value with brands. Contact him directly at (203) 979-7914 or [email protected]

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