Archives for posts with tag: brand management


How many times did we hear outcry about tenure of CMOs? It’s somewhere between 12 and 24 months. In short: pathetically short. There are groups on various social networks where CMOs talk with each other and share information. I joined a few of them and was saddened by the content: a lot of echo chamber jargon, opinions and little substance. Anyone existing outside the marketing community wouldn’t understand a word.

There’s a lot of junk and cheap talk, nothing relating brand status to financial consequences. Anybody involved in the marketing and advertising world is responsible to nail down some factual benchmarks that smart business people understand. Many of the reports marketers produce are just fluff and hot air (Unaided brand awareness, anyone? Facebook likes. Do I have to continue? Thanks.) At my first agency job, we commissioned a client satisfaction survey each quarter. It gave us information agency staff couldn’t get internally. We used it as a way of giving the agency goals and every six months executives presented the results. It removed all opinion by giving us measures we needed to address. We tried to manage the agency brand through the eyes of our clients. The outcomes were fabulous when it came to retention, organic growth and new business.

The curse of marketing is jargon combined with unquantified opinion

That’s the real cause so many people in marketing and advertising believe to be visionaries and almost nobody is. When they lead the way, they might lead us to nowhere. Or Second Life. Let’s face it: most of us are challenged in the vision department. However, we all talk like Steve Jobs and Seth Godin. They communicated substance, most of us hot air.

Now, there are some real visionaries in this business. People that know the past, understand the present and learned from both to look at the future. The problem for agencies and clients is to work out who is the person with the jargon and glossary, and who is the one that is thinking and talking intelligently.

Any new client needs to agree on a form of measurement to track performance. Most brands still  don’t want to invest in the most elementary tracking. They rather focus on listening and defensive tactics, rather than understanding the real perception of their business and brand. Some brands spend millions of dollars on media but they don’t bother to spend 0.5% of their marketing budget on tracking important KPIs. “Let’s do that next year.”

CEOs should be brand managers

CEOs should ask for this data on a monthly basis. In terms of brand management at the top of any organization, the CEO cannot rely upon the input internally as it has a vested interest in all things  being pink unicorns. CEOs need some form of external intelligence communicating honestly how his brand is doing in the real world. Good intelligence gives the CEO the time to adjust the business. When he has to fire the CMO to correct strategy, it’s too late. The horse has already left the barn.


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When we started this venture we call BatesHook, I was reflecting on my work life and experience, trying to implement best practices into my own company, hoping to avoid the dreaded pitfalls. And I was trying to find the common thread why I loved working for this company and dreaded working for this one. Why 8 hours at one agency killed my spirit, while 16 hours here made me feel alive. It all came down to one thing: Values. One brand stood for something, the other place shared only one tangible value: shareholder return.

There’s nothing wrong with making money but if that’s the only reason for an organization to be around, you can see it permeating the entire organization, up to the C-Suite where the sound of cash registers drones out any sense of decency and humanity. Layoffs just equal cost savings not human misery. All sorts of shortcuts equal improvement of the short-term bottom line, just to conveniently ignore the long-term costs.

After the multitude of bubbles have burst, shareholder value and making money for the sake of money doesn’t feel that good anymore. And consumers are craving institutions that care and give back. This and the age of product parity lead to an avalanche of brands that suddenly care, that support businesses in making positive change, try to rebrand themselves as green or just transform communities around the world (right after they almost destroyed the whole financial system).

Most of this comes across as advertising, not as a commitment. Because it’s not rooted in real values, we are starting to deal with caring parity: Suddenly everybody cares for the wrong reason. Consumers want us to care, let’s care. Brands purely jumping on the caring bandwagon are missing out on a huge opportunity: Stand for something. Have values. And express yourself as an organization based on these values.

What gets you more excited? The horsepower of the new Accord or the power of dreams outside of Honda’s corporate walls?  What are you talking about more? That Dove has no soap scum or that physical beauty is only skin deep? What’s more interesting? The newest feature on a Dell Computer or their commitment to eliminate the digital divide? (Just an idea, Dell.)

Standing for something that’s rooted in corporate values eliminates the need to spout off undifferentiated messages, bland and politically correct brand communiques and mind-numbing feature lists. Sure, standing for something is not easy. It might offend some. Actually, it better offend some. Not everybody will like it. But real leaders don’t care. Brand leaders. Human leaders.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where stands at tome of challenge and controversy.” –Dr. Martin Luther King Kr.

The values of your brand determines the value of your brand.

So, what’s your brand standing for?