Art, Science and Craft: The Anatomy of a Modern Brand Builder
We live in a fascinating age. Traditional industries are being re-imagined by tectonic shifts in technology and disrupted by fast-moving start-ups. Successfully navigating a brand through these seas of change demands a new standard of brand leadership and a new blueprint for the perfect Brand Builder. This is the anatomy and mind of the modern-age marketer.
The 21st century brand builder embodies the great masters of the renaissance age, De Vinci and Michelangelo – equally skilled in Art and Science; a sculptor and a poet as well as a scientist and an engineer; skillfully melting, manipulating and forging complex analytics and creative arts together, drawing inspiration from big data and artistic creativity to reach a powerful expression of human spirit and culture.
I believe (obvious bias accepted) marketing to be the ultimate profession because it combines the science of data mastery, algorithms and business model execution with the art of empathy, human attachment and creativity.
The modern brand builder is empowered by technology and masters it, bending and shaping it to his or her will, they are not consumed or terrorised by it. They are well connected with both technologic advancement and disparate human emotions. They are able to harness the power of both sides of their brains to conceive the winning brand strategy and create brand expressions capable of evoking a wide range of responses in his or her fellow human beings – making them laugh, smile, cry, enjoy and act.
The performance bar is set high by a demanding public – and the very best will raise it even higher for themselves. Not all will meet the requirements or steer their brand successfully through the high seas of change, but those who do will create and maintain a trusted and meaningful brand in the eyes of those who matter most – our consumers.
Superior consumer understanding. Much like the fathers of modern science, our brand builder needs to be comfortable with analysis, formulating assumptions, hypothesis and reasoning at all depths, size and scale. They need to be a number cruncher, being able to quickly, confidently and decisively choose analytical tools that will produce scientifically precise results in rapid time. They also require an equal expertise in understanding the human heart and its desires. This intuitive insight of consumers' needs is essential to identify the friction in people’s lives that their brand can address which, when combined with the data and analytics, unlocks the business challenge from which everything else follows.
True prophet of value. The modern brand builder has the ability to identify brand and category value growth model, visualising long term fields of expansion and bloom. The brand builder must be a curator of modern Business Intelligence, connecting the dots before the competition to identify the early signals of change and ensure first-mover advantage for their brand, every time.
Build the extraordinary brand experience. Like the painters of old, our artist expresses their brand on a broad creative canvas, using the palette of the brand's purpose, equity and benefits to create a one of a kind masterpiece that captures the consumer's heart, reaching them with a powerful message when and where they are most receptive on their own unique path to purchase.
Man of measure and attribution. Rigour and discipline in measurement and self-assessment are crucial. The modern brand builder will measure the results of every action and build robust attribution models, evaluating the return on investment for every dollar spent for the brand and category alike. This distillation of playfield understanding and value creation is vital as they explore and evaluate new territories opened by technological advancement. Our brand builder must make bold decisions and take risks, but do both smartly – constantly tracking progress and evaluating the ‘real’ value returns in a relentless pursuit of improvement.
Inspiring & Integrative Leadership. When describing the unique qualities of SpaceX and Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, one employee said: “Most of us can’t conceive of these things working, he can’t conceive it failing.” The modern brand builder only sees possibilities, not obstacles. Working with our brand builder, there is always hope, colleagues and partners know they will always find a way. The brand builder is able to coordinate various disciplines and lead multiple partners towards the single goal. They will inspire others to follow and unite the disparate elements at their disposal to ensure strategic clarity and consistent execution of the brand model.
Focus on Strategy. In the rapidly expanding world of digital platforms, it is too easy for marketers to get lost in the technology. Strategic focus and discipline are vital. The modern brand builder must retain the age-old notion of "Consumer First", gathering an intimate knowledge of his or her brand's business, issues and opportunities, always through the lens of their consumers’ evolving needs and preferences. This will tear down any wall of objection, with customers and colleagues alike, and will help to root out the new and shiny objects that attract the eye but don’t add real value to the consumer experience or the brand’s growth model.
Accountability. Whilst in a company of brands, there may be many masters, for their brand, our Brand Builder is CEO and COO. They are the owner, leader and executor of the strategy. The Brand Builder is the single point of accountability for the business, the people and the total performance of ‘their company.’ This accountability means total ownership for the brand; its successes and its failures. Our Brand Builder will not control all the levers and will rely on a network of supporting cast, but will show leadership to rally others to their vision and guide the whole ship toward its destination.
Relentless pursuit of excellence. The modern brand builder is never satisfied with Status Quo and today’s results. They do not accept modest growth or slow and steady gains. They thrive in a relentless pursuit of excellence. They recognise when they step into the role that they have been handed a treasure with a proven model and a legacy to protect. They acknowledge that constant reinvention is not required. Rather, it is a constant search for ways to build and improve on the success of the past. They stay true to the values and models that have endured over time, but are always fine-tuning, always testing the waters for untapped potential, always seeking to keep the brand fresh, relevant and ahead of the pack.
Winning together. Last but not least is a strong drive for inclusion – both intellectually and organisationally; inclusion of ideas and perspective within the team and inclusion of different disciplines, colleagues and partners to create the broader network. The Brand Builder sets the tone for this. They are the Conductor of the brand's orchestra, ensuring everyone feels part of the masterpiece, knows their role and plays in-rhythm and in-time, ready to take the applause, together, when the curtain falls.