Why New CEO’s Must Make Strategic Brand Investments

What does it mean to invest in a brand?
And why should an organization invest in their brand?

We met with a client the other day who spent the past five years strategically investing several million dollars in their manufacturing infrastructure. And we’ve seen these machines in the factory firsthand. These are state-of-the-art assets that provide tangible and measurable ROI.

Sometime after lunch, this client confirmed plans to expand into a new market. This was no surprise, as it was a move we’d discussed for months. What was surprising, however, was that the client no longer spoke about their manufacturing capabilities, but the legacy of their brand.

They stressed that it was their brand name that would be their introduction to the new market; which makes sense. After all, buyers in this new market weren’t following their press releases or manufacturing upgrades, but were exposed to the brand’s presence enough to form trust in the organization based on what they’d seen.  Before any kind of factory tour or face-to-face meeting, the logo, tagline, brand promise, website, website photography, and every other relevant brand touchpoint would do the heavy lifting.

Our job is to help them find a position of genuine differentiation, signaling the correct level of change to the new market.

For the next few years, the client’s resource allocation strategy is to focus on brand development (hence our meetings). Together we are shaping the brand to encompass this new market. In other words, they recognized their brand as an asset, worthy of investment.

Brand Leaders Develop Resource Allocation Strategies

How does this apply to your situation?

During your first few months as CEO, director or brand leader, you have a brief window of time to carefully develop a vision and get enough buy-in from your team. The success of that effort largely depends on where and how you choose to allocate resources. You’ll need to quickly understand every single lever —large and small— that you can pull to move the company in your direction.  Some levers include:

•  Developing a proprietary product
•  Acquiring new talent
•  Workforce training
•  Internal technological investment
•  Spinning off underperforming service capabilities
•  Pushing for network externalities
•  Centralizing service areas
•  Decentralizing service areas

Many of these moves lead to compelling differentiators worth serious consideration. However, you can pull any number of levers and still be walking lockstep with the same competitor, or worse, fading to an irrelevant third place. This is because each lever has a corresponding communication goal. And because your brand is your top salesperson, it needs to [re]introduce you to the market perfectly. Every time.

How you communicate your resource allocation strategy with your brand is everything.

Side note: This short grace period afforded to a new leader will fade once office politics take hold. Once this happens, there are very few ways to artificially manufacture a season of change. This is why we typically advocate for a rebranding effort against an ad campaign to summon the winds of change. The brand can communicate your strategy both inside and outside the company.

Solve Communication Goals with Appropriate Solutions

Unfortunately, most business leaders only invest in overly tangible solutions to accomplish communication goals. Picture the supply chain provider located in the southwest who recently invested in an upgraded trucking fleet to provide “solutions” for the pacific northwest. Every analysis points to that region for prosperity.

With a newly expanded service area, the marketing/PR department submits a handful of ads to the local business publications and contacts current clients. Someone even posts the news on Linkedin.

But the sales staff can’t seem to dent this new market. Why?

Because to the market they are known as the southwest supply chain provider. Likely these same clients already have a relationship with a supplier in the pacific northwest. The leadership of the southwest supply chain company needs to reposition their brand in the minds of the pacific northwest buyers. They need ways to communicate their company’s expanded competencies.

Put plainly, an impressive trucking fleet says something, but it doesn’t say enough.

The problem could be this granular; perhaps buyers in the pacific northwest think they see a company ill-equipped to handle the weather conditions of eastern Washington state and Idaho.

To be fair, maybe buyers think the tires on the fleet aren’t outfitted for ice. Or, the problem could be the company’s website. When prospective buyers visit the site they’ve only seen images of trucks in a desert setting, yet none braving a blizzard.

Their procurement teams say, “See, I knew it. These guys are out of their depth.”

Does that sound silly?

Today a website is the primary ways a brand communicates to consumers. Often websites work in tandem with a sales team. Within 24 hours of a sales meeting, if the prospective buyer liked what they heard, they will scour the site, looking to confirm the information with their eyes,  just to “kick the tires” once more.  There need to be professional images of the new fleet plowing through the snow that can serve as “visual hammers” to will drive home the words from the salesperson.

In this case, allocating resources to a website audit would do wonders for the brand. Once completed, the website can communicate the supply chain provider’s capabilities in the pacific northwest.

Again, let your brand do the talking.

Easy Next Steps:

• Learn more about your brand’s blind spots
• Develop a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG)
• Run a 360-degree diagnostic

About Daake

We are brand design experts who deliver transformative ideas to the nation’s marketing professionals and CEOs as they seek guidance, clarity and excitement for their brand.

We would love to hear more about what you have in mind for your next project. Call Greg Daake at 402.933.1094.

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