Too often I find myself in conversations with brand owners about where brand ownership sits, or should sit, internally. Usually the discussion will be about whether it’s the Chief Communications Officer, the Chief Marketing Officer or the new Chief Brand Officer that should own brand management in the business.

Obviously the decision of where ‘brand’ or ‘brand management’ sits is dependent on many factors. By approaching the topic more holistically, I can see some considerations.

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Brand architecture

Is the organisation mono-branded, endorsed or product branded? The more mono-branded, or thereabouts, the more mature the corporate brand management function needs to be.

Definition of what brand management encompasses:

– Does internal branding sit within the brand function, or within Communications or HR? In the case of mono-branding, is above-the-line communication or mass communication part of the function, or is that placed somewhere else (marketing for example)?

– To what extent is ‘digital’ part of the remit, or does it sit within another corporate function?

– To what extent are content creation and design part of the remit?

– What is the philosophy or governance in terms of creating more agility? In a world where adaptation speed and brand strategy come together, there’s an argument to go for an in-house agency model, which then requires a heavier and more extensive corporate brand management function.

Impact of digital

In this blog I’d like to look a bit deeper on the ‘digital’ bit, whatever that may precisely be.

As I wrote in my last blog about the impact of digitisation on design, any brand will have to update its design as a consequence of digitisation. Even if there isn’t a brand update required at all from a positioning perspective, change is required to remain current and not look/feel prematurely outdated.

Traditionally we’ve seen a lot of non-comprehension between IT and marketing or communications. Yet, with ‘big data’ continually coming at us, and digitisation everywhere, it’s a no-brainer that things will change. The biggest challenge with big data is that it is hard to know what approach to take as it can seem all-encompassing and overwhelming. As I learnt long ago, the way to eat an elephant is in small pieces. This is where I think marketing has an important role to play; to identify and prioritise opportunities on how to work with data. Here I see two dimensions:

– From an outside-in perspective – understanding audience behaviour, brand equity and conversion

– The use of market segmentation skills to discover what works and what doesn’t

By doing this brands avoid creating inflexible structures which are too large to grasp big data, whereas the adage needs to be ‘start small and trial, adapt and trial again’ – just until you’ve found out what works well. Only then it would be wise to scale up any big data initiative. Hence in my mind, marketers would have to work with IT to make the first steps and analyse what works and what doesn’t before ramping up to bigger initiatives, where IT would have to play a more dominant role.

As for the future of brand management, I envision that it’ll remain a marketing or comms responsibility, through engagement, exchange and education. An understanding of IT is a must for every marketer to be successful in the next decade. I’m interested to see whether the current generation of marketers will be agile enough to adapt to this with speed. If not, I’m not so sure who’ll be in charge of brand management, going forward.

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