April 23, 2014

Brand Management Execution Gap – 6 Tips to Keep Branding Projects from Failing

As brand management lead for my own company, I look for ideas to help my staff and my clients improve their performance. I’ve always been a big fan of the late Stephen Covey, and his soccer inspired video – Goals – 4 Disciplines of Execution (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQnOMY98fGg) – offers some real insight into why goals set out by management often fail during the execution stage. Not surprisingly, these issues impact brand management decisions whenever new brands are rolled out. In his video, Covey summarizes the results of an execution gap study conducted by the Harris Polling Group:

  • Only 15% of employees surveyed were able to identify their company’s top goals and priorities.
  • Only 19% felt passionate and took ownership of goals.
  • Only 49% of employees’ time was spent on the company’s most important goals (the rest was spent on urgent distractions).
  • 51% of the employees surveyed didn’t understand what they themselves were supposed to do to help the company achieve its goals.

Is it any wonder brand management has trouble rolling out new brands when hundreds or thousands of employees in different departments are involved? In my experience, it is easiest for brand management to rollout the new brand on brand touchpoints under the control of the marketing and branding teams. It is much more challenging to get employees in other divisions and departments to feel passionate and take ownership of the goals of the brand management team when there are so many distractions on a daily basis.

As a nationwide rebranding company, we have had to bridge the execution gap many times. We have seen divisions object to brand management initiatives that would have increased sales within key markets and audiences. On the flip side, we have also seen branded asset managers take ownership of brand management initiatives, leading to improved brand awareness and increased sales. This came about because the branded assets managers were brought into the process at an early stage, and understood how important their roles were to the overall success of the company.

Here are some recommendations to brand management teams to build support with stakeholders throughout their company:

  1. Include the key stakeholders in your planning process.
  2. Gather information from key stakeholders, including database reports of branded assets, during the planning process.
  3. Communicate clearly and often why each stakeholder’s support is necessary.
  4. Understand each division’s financial metrics and operating procedures to avoid disrupting daily operations as much as possible.
  5. Oversee the rollout process, including scheduling, but let implementation teams work directly with the branded assets owners.
  6. Communicate any change of plans as soon as possible.

Having the brand management team build solid relationships throughout the organization has an ongoing impact on the company’s bottom line, which is why creating a positive experience for all company stakeholders is so important. Otherwise, like the little girl in the video, you’ll be aiming for the wrong goal.

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