Here, we will take a glimpse into one of the more obscure executive roles: The Chief Brand Officer. Its decided obscurity is certainly not helped by the acronym which it shares with another role, the Chief Business Officer.
In contrast, the Chief Brand Officer (median U.S. salary $110,860) is a comparatively new executive level position that has risen as a direct result of new marketing practices and demands. Specifically noted are those sectors of new technology and market overlap, particularly social media strategy and evolving branding. Branding, to a modern company, is everything; and the game is far removed from what it used to be. There was a time when issues of branding once revolved almost entirely around consistency, consumer loyalty, and image. When we look at the major brand players of the last century, we see their efforts were often primarily condensed to attaching the same picture or font on the side of a product for 50 years. Furthermore, it worked. Now however, things are very different.
Successful modern brand management is not about manufacturing consumer loyalty, as traditional conceptions of brand loyalty have become generally unrecognizable. Today, it is about riding the cultural wave of technology and creating engagement, primarily through social media and the savvy use of internet memes.
As such, the skills set of the CBO can be quite extensive and may well include some or all of the following:
- Consumer experience
- Public relations
- Customer Service
As many companies have learned the hard way, what matters most to people is responsiveness and transparency. No one may want to “make friends” with a corporation, however, a company that demonstrates a sharp wit and sense of humor over social media (looking at you, Wendy’s twitter), as well as taking their media-generated inquiries and concerns seriously, will prompt incredible amounts of consumer response and favor.
A Deeper Look
Susan Gulenius, CEO of Keysplach Creative Inc. suggests that the CBO be a powerhouse of six different hats: the Champion, the Innovator, the Owner, the Visionary, the Motivator, and the Partner.
Now, while this may seem an excessive amount of headwear for any single individual to manage, when considering her position more carefully, we find they actually blend in and out of one another quite well. The champion, owner, and partner all merge to denote a person who acts as the voice and presentation of the company, who takes ownership for and of that image, and also stands to mitigate misconceptions (both external and internal) as they may arise. The innovator and the visionary roles blend into the creative vision, leading into the path toward its final execution; and the motivator gets them all going in the same direction.
First and foremost, a Chief Brand Officer has to understand their essential role as organic and dynamic; far more so than their traditional contemporaries on the executive level.
In many ways, the marketing game has turned nearly upside-down from what it reliably was 20 years ago. It used to be the brand made the market. Now, the market demands a flexible, clever, and dynamic branding approach. Thanks to the connective power of the internet, your consumers get together en mass and compare notes. This has, unfortunately taken many inflexible companies “face first into the wall”. Conversely, fluid companies have used this to their marked advantage. What consumer report could be more useful than conclusions drawn directly from their customers, informing in transparent terms what they do and do not want?
The clever executive will utilize every tool at their disposal. Likewise, a competent and savvy Chief Brand Officer could well be the edge your company has been looking for; or as a C-level job seeker, perhaps a role you may personally seek for your own.
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