During times of change, a new brand can be an effective strategic asset to drive business transformation. However, if the operating model doesn't evolve to align with the new brand, customers end up experiencing empty promises, “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing,” to quote Macbeth's famous words.
Used as a North Star, a brand can guide the evolution of the operating model and make change both logical and desirable to customers as well as to employees and investors.
To assist CMOs and executive teams, we adopt a three-pronged approach designed to guide change and orientate the business toward a new growth trajectory in close alignment with the brand.
Successful transformation begins with a clear understanding and definition of the market opportunity. I know this seems a logical step, almost elementary. However, too often companies rely on fragmented market research and insufficient quantitative data colored by personal views to make decisions about their future.
Clear data-based evidence of the market opportunity is essential to develop a brand that can drive business transformation and future growth.
- What are the best market segments to focus the business on in the future?
- What will customers need tomorrow?
- What are the gaps that the business needs to fill?
The data gathered creates a shared and factual understanding of the opportunity, which creates consensus among management and helps executives move forward together.
We find that companies that avoid this step are often characterized by a reactive, short-term and hyper focus on sales. This might work for a while but it eventually exposes businesses to long-term losses of competitiveness, market share and brand equity.
With the future Market Orientation defined, teams can begin the Brand Orientation phase. Its goal is to define with clarity the promise and the experience a business needs to deliver to go after the market opportunity uncovered in the previous phase. Several important questions get addressed during this phase, including:
- What should the brand stand for to lead the company to the future it wants to reach?
- What part of your past do you leverage and bring into your future?
- What kind of experience are you promising to deliver to customers, and how?
- Why should customers care?
The goal of this step is to evolve the operating model so that it aligns with the brand strategy defined in the previous phase. This allows the business to deliver to customers what is promised by the brand.
Using the brand as the North Star, we work with our clients to develop a transformation roadmap to align products, technologies, systems, processes, skills, culture and data management with the newly defined brand promise. The roadmap helps executives focus activities, plans and investments necessary to align the company to the trajectory set by the brand.
Once the roadmap is completed, a brand launch timeline is developed. It is important to have a few critical milestones from the roadmap achieved by the time the brand launch occurs, so they can be used as credible proof points of the new brand promise. After the brand launch, each milestone completed is communicated to both employees and customers. This practice has two important benefits: it strengthens employees’ belief in the new direction, and keeps reinforcing the value of the brand for customers (the company is fulfilling on its promises).
With the brand and the operating model aligned with the future growth opportunity, CMOs can be effective skippers, never losing sight of the North Star, always monitoring possible course corrections, using the brand to tell a story that excites customers, inspires employees and reassures investors.