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Building Sustainable Brands for Both the Consumer and B2B Markets

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Michael Brown

June 20, 2016
CMO Summit

The afternoon session at Bowery Capital’s CMO Summit focused on building sustainable brands for both the consumer and B2B markets. We closed out the day with two energetic talks from big brand marketers. We had Mike Williams, CMO of Formula 1 and former CMO of the San Francisco 49ers and New Jersey Devils who spoke about his framework for winning in competitive consumer brand markets. And Graham Hales, Global CMO for Interbrand who discussed approaches to building global B2B brand values. Both speakers touched on four common themes in sharing their vision for crafting competitive brands.

Brand Promise

Williams emphasized storytelling as the key method for conveying brand promise to customers, particularly in a landscape no longer dominated by traditional media and communication methods. Understanding customer values is integral to crafting the brand story that customers actually want. Customers may find value in the product, but that is different from your original behavior expectations and honing the brand, to create a sustainable connection.

Brand Delivery

Both speakers saw delivery on the promise as both the biggest challenge and opportunity area for brands. Whereas the consequences for non-delivery were limited before, new channels of communication and interaction have amplified any negative effects of breaking trust with the consumer. Conversely, the benefits of delivering are similarly magnified and have positive effects on individual engagement, as well as increasing brand authenticity with related customers.

Hales spoke about preparing an organization to deal with the full consumer journey as opposed to narrowly focusing on obsolete purchase funnels. While an increasingly “fragmented and chaotic consumer” can be frightening to deal with, brands can prepare themselves by ensuring that every touchpoint along the customer journey is an opportunity to amplify positive association with the product. Hales emphasized “a brand is a living business asset, brought to life across all touch points which, if properly managed, creates indication, differentiation and value.”

Channels of Communication

Williams spoke about the importance of engaging new customers in the medium they were already communicating in and ensuring that they were engaged in a “manner that is very genuine, authentic and pure, ultimately creating content that is shareable.” Additionally, he sees social media as being the tool to bridge the gap between brand promise and brand delivery when the product experience fails. By being active and responsive to customer concerns, a brand not only minimizes damage, it also creates value by building trust and showcasing transparency.

Organizational Buy-In

Both speakers touched on the growing importance of marketing as a strategic function of a business and how understanding the brand should pervade the organization. Williams, emphasized that this is especially relevant as there are no longer distinct separations within marketing functions (media, advertising, content, etc.) and the organization as a whole. Every person in the business should understand the brand promises being made and how their decisions deliver on the value being communicated. Hales further emphasized the point, by comparing the old approach to brand as a mere “element of communication strategy” and existing outside the organization as a promise, without coordinating delivery on that trust. By contrast, the new approach stresses the need for marketing and brand to be a driving force in decisions across the organization.