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Role of CEO in Brand Management
The CEO needs to ensure that the organization is armed with the appropriate foundation for effective brand building. Regardless of where your company is starting, the CEO's checklist can serve as a snapshot of where you are trying to head: brand-driven success. It itemizes the critical capabilities required to brand-enable your organization and leverage your brand to realize your corporate vision.

The CEO needs to ensure that the organization is armed with the appropriate foundation for effective brand building. Regardless of where your company is starting, the CEO's checklist can serve as a snapshot of where you are trying to head: brand-driven success. It itemizes the critical capabilities required to brand-enable your organization and leverage your brand to realize your corporate vision.

At the simplest level, it says you need to balance an ability to think strategically and operationalize consistently. "Think strategically" is shorthand for all the ways an organization applies world-class strategic brand thinking to market opportunities and business challenges. And "operationalize consistently" is shorthand for all the things an organization must do to deliver the brand and its promise consistently.

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Your company needs to be able to balance both types of activities if you are to drive sustainable competitive advantage through your brand. And because the CEO is responsible for ensuring these capabilities are built, it is important that he or she understands the role brand plays in achieving business success.

To develop CEOE Brand Checklist, we have drawn on the rich thinking of well-known brand strategists, including David Aaker, and distilled five key strategic capabilities for building a brand-driven business. These capabilities need to be developed so that they can be applied consistently over increasingly complex business domains and with a speed that was unthinkable as recently as ten or fifteen years ago. Because Chapters Three through Nine focus explicitly on operationalizing the brand, the rest of this chapter examines solely the “think strategically” component of the CEO’s checklist.

Dynamic Customer Modeling

Dynamic customer modeling involves conducting analysis around customer segmentation, customer need states, customer behaviors, and influence patterns across different types of participants in a purchase process.

Although many companies understand the value of thinking about their customers, surprisingly few companies take the same rigorous approach to understanding their customers. "Businesses must find better ways to mirror their customers—big or small, sophisticated or casual, service-conscious or price-sensitive, occasional buyer or soul mate. There are countless ways to segment customers and address their specific needs. Start thinking about them.

The challenge, as noted by James Champy, a pioneer of the reengineering movement, is that many companies believe that segmentation efforts alone equal customer modeling. The problem with this is that traditional segmentation is often static, somewhat superficial, and based on impersonal demographics.

Going forward, a dynamic and compelling customer model has to be developed, which includes insight into how customers think and act within a category, make purchase decisions, use products or services, and see your brands fitting into their lives. With this type of information, you can make smart customer-driven decisions tied to bringing your brand's strategy to life.

Brand Identity and Positioning Development

Brand identity and positioning involves what many think of as trad¬tional marketing skills. This includes an ability to distinguish features from benefits, an understanding of the interplay between rational, emotional, and self-expressive benefits, and an acknowledgment that positioning concepts should be differentiated (from competitors), relevant and compelling (to target customers and stakeholders), and ultimately ownable (for the company and brand trying to claim it). David Aaker's concept of brand identity recognizes that it is important for a firm to approach short-term positioning opportunities in the context of a longer-term aspirational vision for the brand.

Brand Portfolio Management

Brand portfolio management is the capability to manage multiple brands, subbrands, and other brand assets with potentially complex interrelationships and dependencies, in a way that provides optimal flexibility and leverage, given a company's growth objectives. A good example is from Denise Yohn, vice president of segment marketing and brand planning at Sony.

There never has been a real marketing program for the Sony corporate brand. We continue to speak about Sony through its subbrands. We are trying to make these subbrands more emotive, connected to lifestyles, toward certain types of consumers rather than soley product oriented. For example, we are evolving the Walkman brand from meaning port¬able audio to a lifestyle brand for Gen Y. But the question remains: How do we develop platform brands that are all about creating customer value, and what product names should be underneath the platforms?

As the Sony experience indicates, managing a portfolio of multilevel brand relationships is difficult. It requires a solid understanding of the existing and potential boundaries of current brands and the ability to make in-the-portfolio investments, with an eye on all brands in the portfolio simultaneously.

In the past, many organizations have not managed their brand port¬folios very strategically. Rather, their portfolios often just evolved, based on a series of ad hoc product launches (requiring a new brand launch) or organizational restructurings ("We separated the brands because that was how we were set up"). As a result, many brand expenditures and initiatives get overly expensive or redundant. Since brand portfolio management is an underdeveloped concept in so many companies, a company that develops this capability to its fullest extent has the potential to gain a significant edge over the competition.

Multidisciplinary, General Management Perspective

The fourth capability is well developed in companies with sophisticated brand management cultures like Anheuser-Busch, Disney, and Coca-Cola. In those companies, "brand people" are businesspeople. They are rigorously trained to understand the connections among financial, operational, and strategic priorities and brand strategy. They understand the ramifications of culture and organizational structure on effective brand building. Most important, they can bring well-balanced perspectives to bear, Grafting multidisciplinary paths across all elements of a company's value chain. To be effective, every organization will need individuals with this type of strategic and brand-based capability.

Maintaining Brand Portfolio Relevance over Time

The fifth capability, an ability to maintain brand portfolio relevance over time, is the holy grail of brand management. Relevance is a key driver of whether a company can extract real economic value from its brand at any time. However, maintaining relevance over extended periods of time is a capability that even some of the greatest brand-driven businesses find difficult to achieve consistently. To succeed, it is necessary to weigh short-term brand leverage against the dangers of medium-term overextension like the Gap experienced in the early 2000s. Also required is a willingness to consider timely retirement of brands that are no longer relevant, like Oldsmobile. As Paula Dumas, director and vice president of marketing and development at Kodak, told us, Kodak understands the risks and opportunities and is tack-ling this issue head on:

As with any other leading brand, the greatest threat for us is apathy and a failure to keep the brand relevant. My role is to redefine the Kodak brand within what we are now calling "info imaging sciences." The trend from traditional to digital is a dramatic change that will continue to be dramatic over the next twenty years. But a great brand can transcend technological change as long as its attributes are relevant.

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Coke's performance in the late 1990s should serve as another cautionary tale around the dangers of complacency. Coke has been accused of focusing too much on short-term deal-making and financial reengineering at the expense of brand building, marketing, and new products, because it was lulled into believing that Pepsi, by the mid-1990s, was on an irreparable slide into irrelevancy. With Coke turn¬ing its back on brand building and thus its roots, Pepsi has been gaining brand relevancy and market share with younger consumers via products such as Mountain Dew, Code Red, and Sierra Mist and with health-conscious consumers through its Tropicana, Gatorade, and Aquafina brands.

Source : Building the Brand-Driven Business: Operationalize Your Brand to Drive Profitable Growth by : Scott M. Davis.