Brand Leadership is a vital topic in the development of high performing cultures. While personal branding involves building an active reputation, identity that people can link you (as an individual) with, brand leadership goes a step further and conveys the uniqueness of the organizational/corporate brand through the actions and behaviors of their leaders. It aims at developing executives to develop brand led attributes and who are passionate about the company’s brand DNA, using it to guide their actions and behavior. What attributes do your leaders possess? What are they known for? Are they known for being able to deliver the brand of the organization? Or are they on the other side of the lane?
A strong brand with a clear brand DNA would help guide the values and actions of their leaders. It ensures that companies are brand centric and drive a culture led by brand. Leaders should represent their company’s brand so both should exemplify similar or aligned traits and values.
The following is a step by step guide towards creating effective brand leaders:
Know your brand
The starting point here is knowing in clear terms, what is expected of brand leaders. Many organizations do not have a clear Brand DNA and as such leaders get confused on the right standards of a brand leader. World class organizations have a clear Brand DNA that sets clear brand standards, guidelines and manifestos that allow executives to understand that brand and in turn represent the brand to stakeholders and across key channels.
Tip: Create a clear Brand DNA which includes your Brand Vision, Brand Purpose, Brand Values, Brand Personality and Brand Positioning. Ensure that it is relevant and can be amplified.
Brand leadership development should be your priority
One very grave mistake employers make is hiring leaders that are not trained to fit in with their brand. Activities of brand leaders must be directly aligned with your organization’s core values and also integrated in your day-to-day activities. Employees must be educated about the significance of branding and how it affects a company. This helps them build qualities that would be useful for brand led leadership.
If your organization is not making the brand impact it should, then you probably have the wrong brand leaders. Leadership tops the list of what’s required for the success of a business. Leadership that is led by your brand takes your organization to another level. Carry out brand leadership workshops, seminars and trainings regularly. This will help to imbibe in your leaders, the skills needed to meet customer and investor expectations.
Tip: With a clear Brand DNA, develop a hiring process that allows you to recruit on-brand candidates. Secondly develop a rigorous brand leadership program which includes workshops, coaching and mentoring so that leaders truly immerse themselves in their brand.
Align your brand purpose
It is not enough to have a brand and know how it works. It is also important to know the ‘why’ of your brand. The ‘why’ conveys the compelling purpose of your brand. Brands should have a clear brand purpose. Clarity of purpose fosters motivation and helps employees to understand how to contribute towards that purpose.
A purpose statement should contain the objectives which you want your executives to work towards. It should be the basis for most decisions taken in the organization, as well as a yardstick for setting goals. The brand purpose statement could be included in the company handbook and also placed at strategic points in the organization, where employees would come in contact with it and be reminded constantly of your shared interests. Often when I run programs, I get leaders to deep dive into their corporate brand purpose and use that as a guide to create their own leadership brand purpose which not only reflects their individual identity but also aligns itself with that of their corporate brand.
Tip: An individual leadership brand purpose looks at the “why” and the impact of the “why” first. Secondly it looks at how this brand purpose fits in with corporate brand purpose.
Leaders should guide and drive brand values
Leaders are always used as role models, hence, failing to abide by the values of the organization will lead to misalignment, confusion and resentment.
If your employees perceive that their leaders are not living up to stated organizational standards, they lose trust in their leaders and become lax in the roles. They become unmotivated and this can ruin an organization faster than anything can.
Leaders should involve the staff in the interpretation of brand values, by getting their inputs concerning them, set realistic expectations that duly represent your brand, and commit to them. This ensures that everyone in the organization is committed and working towards a goal- which is promoting your company brand.
Leaders should teach and reinforce the values in all communication (e.g. emails, meetings etc.), reward company’s value-centric behaviors to serve as motivation to other workers and importantly live in their behavior and actions.
Tip: Organizations should strive to revisit company values as things evolve in the marketplace. This keeps the company values current and consistent with reality.
Monitor your long-term success
Brand leaders should monitor their leadership brand and see if they have demonstrated their brand throughout their roles. They should consciously and regularly reassess themselves. They can do this by surveying employees anonymously to find out whether they feel the organization or their leaders are living up to set brand standards or not. Often in our internal brand surveys, we ask if leadership demonstrates the brand of the organization. If it is low score, we as consultants immediately work on creating solutions to close that gap. Solutions could include training and mentoring.
Tip: Internal Brand engagement surveys should be run annually at the very least. A scorecard should be developed on the metrics like employees understanding of the brand, their connection to it and if leaders “walk the talk”.
In conclusion, the key is for brand leaders is to be committed to living the brand. Leaders at all levels should know their brand and use it to guide and motivate their employees to embody it. By prioritizing the leadership of your brand, you create a culture that is driven by your brand.
Jerome Joseph, CSP, is a Global Speaker with industry experience as a CEO of a listed brand agency. He is recognised as a Top 30 Global, Thought Leader on Branding, has spoken in 33 countries and has worked with over 1,000 brands. Let’s talk. Call us at +65 9271 6973 or Email us at Jerome@jeromejoseph.com.