Is Integrating a Brand Management Strategy Right for you and your Business?
We’ve heard it all before: It’s important to maintain your brand. But when business executives of every-sized companies find that they have less and less time to maintain their brand’s image and reputation, a third-party brand management team will come in, understand the philosophy behind a company, and act as a chief marketing officer to preserve the appearance and operations of a product or service.
The forces behind globally-based Interbrand and Los Angeles-based B360 Studios offer their expertise in the proper way to manage brands without losing that personal touch.
CREATING AND MANAGING GLOBAL BRANDS
“CEOs are looking for the financial value when it comes to branding,” Andrea Sullivan Executive Director, Client Services of Global Branding Consultancy for Interbrand says. “Companies have much more responsibility to maintain their brands are a result of social media. Customers, consumers, and those new to a brand all have an opportunity to comment or participate in the branding of a business and its performance to maintain reputations.”
“The interesting thing about today is that the questions being asked by executives when it comes to brand management are quite different from the past years,” Sullivan says. “The economy is changing, there’s more advisory than before, and companies are defining what business opportunities or challenges are out there and how branding can solve those issues.”
Sullivan believes there are three ways to define a great brand: the brand drives demand, commands premium products, and engenders loyalty from clients and/or employees. “There’s a constant struggle with how brands work to attain those three elements and how to convert a brand strategy into something meaningful for customers,” she says.
“Clients are interested in looking at how corporate citizenship can become part of the over-arching theme of a brand and how the company can take on a role as a citizen of the world to make sure what they’re doing is making a positive difference with their branding strategy,” Sullivan says.
Interbrand’s past projects include working with Microsoft to launch Bing and Xbox 360’s Kinect gaming console, Wii, Mini Cooper, McDonald’s, AT&T, and Susan G Komen.
INTEGRATING BRANDING WITH SOCIAL MEDIA
Ray Doustar is one of the partner’s behind Los Angeles-based B360 Studio, a brand management agency specializing in brand development and positioning, licensing, mobile solutions, and Web 2.0 technologies. Doustar approaches those looking for brand management services by taking up the role of a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) for that company.
“Branding is a hot buzzword these days; everyone wants to be a brand,” Doustar says. “Our company is about taking on a client that we’re passionate about and putting ourselves into the CMO role.” Depending on a company’s budget for brand management services, Doustar still believes that more traditional advertising, such as commercials, magazine ads, radio spots, and outdoor billboards are the easiest way to reach larger audiences, although pricey.
“Additionally, we use social media and the Internet to increase a client’s presence on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google ads and other sites and blend it with more traditional advertising to grow effectiveness even more,” he says. “Mobile solutions are also getting big right now and another one of our key areas of focus are strategic licensing. Instead of finding a company to manufacture your product, you find a partner to license out your offering and let them do the heavy lifting while the company works on managing their brand and process.”
For instance, B360 Studios is currently managing Los Angeles-based fbe (Firm Body Evolution) Spa, a high-end holistic fitness center and spa. “By leveraging new ways to market the business, we’ve used group buying sites like Living Social and Groupon to offer deep discounts for membership and also had segments on TV shows like ‘Access Hollywood’ and ‘The Doctors’ to share information about fbe to other interested individuals. This is a perfect example of how we work with businesses to leverage web 2.0 to spread awareness of the product and services.”
When meeting with a new prospective client seeking branding strategies, Doustar asks what their current business plan and demographic is and what they’re trying to accomplish with branding. Next, the firm performs a thorough analysis of previous business plans, strategies and business operations for a clear understanding about what worked in the past and what did not. Doustar then uses what was successful and puts a plan into place to enhance on prior victories. Lastly, a new plan is put into place to build the business and attract new customers with new business ventures.
For more information on these brand management companies, visit www.interbrand.com and www.b360studios.com.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.