On your brand long enough to make a difference?



long does it take to make a real and lasting impact on a brand? Three to four
years? Maybe longer on a service brand, where changing infrastructure and
culture is painfully slow. Certainly when I look at meaningful brand changes,
most of them have at their heart a brand leader who has stuck around to create
a vision, implement it and truly transform the brand mix.


Steve Sharp. He took over as marketing director at the then beleagured Marks
& Spencer back in 2005. He helped transform the fortunes of the business
with the Your M&S campaign. And to his credit, he has stayed during the economic
downturn and recent dip in fortunes to help get the brand back on track.

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But what's the average time in job
for a Chief Marketing Officer? A mere 22 months, according to research by
Spencer Stuart I
came across on Brand Autopsy
. Less then two years. And that's the average,
meaning a load of CMOs are in their jobs for less than this. This leads to
brands chopping and changing strategy, with new marketing leaders often firing
one ad agency and hiring another to make their mark. So, what can be done to
allow CMOs the time they need to make a real impact?


some of the issues are to do with corporate culture. But there is a bigger
problem. You. That's right, many of us in marketing are change junkies, hooked
on a "launch and run" approach, where we get new stuff to market then
move on. Marketers tend to get bored easily, like kids at Xmas ripping the
wrapping paper off one present, then tossing the gift away to open the next


being a true brand leader requires a different approach. You need to create a
bigger sense of purpose and mission, such as changing the way women think about
beauty on Dove. Or giving kids the freedom to play, get dirty and learn on
Omo/Persil. A mission like this is stretchy enough to require more than 22 months
to make it happen. Its also more challenging, as it means you'll have to stick
with the brand during the difficult and turbulent times of implementation. But
it makes the role itself more interesting and stimulating.

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a brand leader like this also requires courage when faced with requests from HR
to rotate you to your next role as part of your career path. This will probably
be, you’ve guessed it, 22 months into your job. If you really want to, you can
make a business case to stay, demonstrating the superior growth likely to come
from you staying on as a brand leader.


takes courage and conviction to kick the change habit and stay on a brand for
five years. But it’s a deeper and ultimately more fulfilling approach to
marketing, where you can be the leader of real change.