organizational chart with CBO
April 12th, 2024

Reshaping Organizational Culture and Brand

Your Brand Ecosystem and the Emerging Role of the CBO 

For decades, we’ve been helping our clients work through their most challenging brand issues—from irrelevance in the marketplace, to a neglected brand strategy, to massive market shifts, requiring quick repositioning. In each case, we’ve typically had a brand champion, often the CEO in a smaller organization, but more often the CMO in a larger company, who we worked with closely to establish (or re-establish) the brand’s foundation—purpose, vision, mission, pillars, and core values—as part of rebuilding their brand ecosystem. Having that champion working closely with us to confirm our research, theories, and then help socialize and bring understanding of the necessary change, was imperative for organizational adherence, adoption, and ultimately advocacy.

In today’s evermore competitive business landscape, building a strong brand presence is essential for organizations looking to differentiate themselves from the competition and create lasting connections with customers and consumers. As the importance of brand continues to grow, companies are increasingly turning to a specialized executive role—the Chief Brand Officer (CBO)—to lead their brand strategy and drive growth. Unlike the CMO’s role primarily centered around marketing and advertising duties, the CBO has their own lane of brand governance, experience, and engagement through multiple touchpoints, both internally and externally. The CMO and CBO work hand-in-glove to not only market the brand, but to also build the brand through multi-channel engagement.

As a proponent of the CBO role, we believe in the power of building a brand ecosystem within organizations. We contend that a brand ecosystem encompasses all elements of a company’s brand—from its visual identity and messaging to its values and culture—and that a CBO role is becoming essential for ensuring that these elements are unified and aligned to create a cohesive brand experience for employees, suppliers, customers, and consumers.

Brand ecosystem chart

So why exactly is the role of the CBO on the rise in organizations? One of the main reasons is the increasing complexity of the modern business environment. With the rise of digital marketing and social media, companies now have more touchpoints than ever before to engage with audiences. A CBO can help ensure that a consistent brand message is communicated across all these channels, creating a seamless and compelling brand experience for all.

Additionally, a CBO can play a crucial role in leading internal brand alignment. By working closely with cross-functional teams, the CBO can help ensure that everyone in the organization is aligned around a common brand purpose, vision, and values. This alignment is essential for creating a strong brand culture within the organization, which can ultimately drive employee engagement, customer loyalty, and positive behavior toward the brand, consistently throughout all channels. Purpose drives the behavior. Behavior drives the brand. And brand drives the business.

Furthermore, the CBO can also help drive innovation and growth by identifying new opportunities for brand expansion. By staying ahead of industry trends and consumer preferences, the CBO can help ensure that the brand remains relevant and competitive in a constantly evolving marketplace. Working with the new product development team, the CBO can act as steward and rudder, steering the design principles toward the attributes of the brand and creating a more cohesive and authentic visual brand (design) language.

This is precisely how BOLTGROUP has been working with clients for years, often taking on the role of CBO during our period of engagement. We emphasize the importance of a holistic approach to brand from the start. We advocate that a strong brand is not just about marketing and advertising, but about creating a consistent and authentic experience that resonates with both employees and customers on a much deeper level, as manifested through visual, verbal, and physical experiences with the brand. This approach requires focus on long-term goals, rather than short-term campaigns, building a brand that can stand the test of time.

Ultimately, the rise of the Chief Brand Officer reflects a growing recognition among organizations of the importance of brand in driving business success. By investing in a dedicated executive to lead their brand strategy, companies can ensure that they are staying ahead of the competition and building a brand that resonates with consumers on a meaningful level. However, many organizations—large and small—are not yet ready to fully commit to this role within the C-suite for various reasons. Yet the role is no less important in driving transformational business success and growth, and should be an integral component (through internal or external means) of your ongoing brand strategy, and how it aligns with your overall business goals.

As CEO, embracing a vision of building a brand ecosystem within the organization, with or without the CBO in place, your company can create a cohesive and compelling brand experience that resonates with employees, customers, and consumers, increases engagement, builds lasting preference, and most of all, drives growth.

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