Who Really Builds the Brand?

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Within your company, who really builds the brand?  Which department is responsible for brand-building?

Trick question!  The answer is “All of them.”  Everyone plays a part in delivering on the brand positioning and bringing the brand to life.

Let’s use a hypothetical consumer packaged goods company as an example of “who does what” (the parallels to your own company should be easy to see):

Marketing – Establishes the brand positioning, identifies the go-to-market strategy and plan to win (Who, What, Where, When and How), and ultimately owns all brand activity and results.

Sales – Guides the retail experience in line with the brand positioning, and, most critically, ensures that the product is available to consumers when and where they need it.

Market Research / Intelligence – Identifies new opportunities and closes blind spots through information collection and analysis.

Operations and Manufacturing – Fills demand and ensures the lowest (most competitive) delivered cost in line with the brand positioning.

Finance – Ensures the brand is profitable and financially optimized.

Customer Service – Handles consumer requests and inquiries effectively, again in line with brand positioning.

R&D – Generates ideas and improvements that help the brand to remain relevant and innovative.

It’s easy to see how the failure of any department could have a devastating impact on the brand.  It’s not just about what the Marketing department is doing.

This view of organizational brand delivery has several important implications:

  • Marketing is the “hub of the wheel,” not “king of the mountain”.  The best marketers consider others their partners in the brand’s success, not order-takers or lackeys.  The ability to build strong working teams is one of the hallmarks of a successful brand leader.
  • The CEO’s role in the success of the entire system is almost impossible to overstate.
  • As stated previously in this space – your brand is everything you do!


About Matthew Fenton: Matthew helps challenger brands to focus, grow and win.  Since founding his consultancy, Three Deuce Branding, in 1997, he’s helped hundreds of brands to achieve “brand clarity.”  His consulting services and speaking engagements help brands to focus on what matters through positioning, strategy and ideation.  Contact Matthew here.  He calls Chicago home.

Copyright 2014 – Matthew Fenton.  All Rights Reserved.  You may reprint this article with the original, unedited text intact, including the About Matthew Fenton section.

2 Replies to “Who Really Builds the Brand?”

  1. Matthew,Your article is vastly flawed, unless you are mistakenly including the creative and design teams under the umbrella of “Marketing”, which that in and of itself is flawed. Your article has omitted the one major group/team which are the creative and design teams, which I call Brand Design. Without this very critical group to help build a brand, your branding will evolve into what I call the “Vanilla” brands or the “Average” brands. These average brands, lack real brand staying power, brand recognition, brand awareness and brand loyalty. In a nut shell branding is the “Art of Differentiation”. In today’s, highly competitive marketplace, if you do not have a distinctive brand design which includes; brand name, brandmark (logo), and brand identity system that is incorporated (from the beginning of the brand development process) as an integral part of the overall brand strategy, brand positioning, brand values, brand storytelling and brand touchpoints, then unfortunately, your brand will not rise above the category of mediocracy.

    1. Thank you, Anonymous, for your anonymous comment! Your thesis seems to be that my article is “vastly flawed” because it does not mention creative and design teams, which you call Brand Design. Here are some others I didn’t mention:

      * Advertising agencies (as distinct from design)
      * Retail specialists, who may drive the growth of the brand significantly at point of purchase
      * Flavor suppliers, who have much to do with the performance of food products

      …and so on. I didn’t mention these groups because, like Brand Design, they often exist outside a company’s internal functional work groups, in all but the very large companies. Even P&G outsources most of its packaging design. And this is a discussion about the roles that internal functions play in building a brand. I’m a firm believer in the value of design in the branding process. It’s just not what I’m talking about here.

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