Faaez Samadi
Sep 28, 2018

CMOs need to champion brand building

Not enough CMOs are setting the agenda in their business, despite the role being more complex and critical than ever, say David Phillips and Adrian Mills of Deloitte Australia.

CMOs need to champion brand building

Too many CMOs are struggling to influence the corporate agenda at their brands, primarily because understanding about the value of brand-building has hugely diminished in the c-suite.

That was one of many key takeaways from David Phillips and Adrian Mills of Deloitte Australia, partners in the creative, brand and media division at Deloitte Australia.

Speaking at Spikes Asia 2018 about building the CMO of the future, Phillips said according to their research, just 17% of CMOs in Australia said brand-building was their number one priority.

David Phillips

“But 55% say number one priority is driving short-term sales, often at the expense of brand-building, which for our industry is really quite terrifying and tragic,” he continued. “Marketers are being forced to play a tactical role rather than a strategic one.”

Mills said no c-suite leadership role has changed as much as the CMO, and the job is becoming less defined as they compete with newer positions such as chief digital or chief growth officer.

“A big problem is the lack of understanding of what ‘brand’ can do at the c-suite level,” Phillips said, with many CEOs still viewing marketing as “a fluffy pursuit”.

Part of the blame, though, lies with CMOs themselves and their protective attitude towards what they perceive as their turf. “There’s a lack of transparency around metrics that are not fit for purpose for measuring brand. Marketers hide these metrics from the rest of the company,” Phillips said.

Adrian Mills

“People in product and services have just as big an impact on brand as marketers. We have to do more to increase an organisation’s understanding of brand.”

Mills added that it was ludicrious that the KPIs for brand sat solely with the CMO at most organisations. “They should sit with everybody including the CEO and CFO,” he said. “When everybody believes in and is measured on brand, you’ll be surprised at how much more interested everyone becomes in brand communications.”

Deloitte’s research also found that almost half of CMOs in digitally advanced markets were outspending CTOs in technology, but as Phillips candidly put it: “It would be an amazing statistic if they were doing something with it. None of them are using their stack properly.”

“There’s such a rush to build the stack that a lot of them haven’t done the core fundamentals,” he continued. “Operating model, systems, pricing, and people haven’t changed. They’re simply hoping that by implementing a new tech stack we’ll become a digital-oriented company, and it simple hasn’t happened.”

But some much-needed good news amongst the gloom and complexity facing CMOs came from Mills, who reassured everyone that there’s no need to panic.

“That’s the most important insight. Nobody is really doing everything right and that’s ok, there’s so much for you [as a CMO] to be doing. It’s still an absolutely critical role.”

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