Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 8th 2015 Contents SBG12 COMMENTARY
SUNDAY BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt MARCH 8 • 2015
While there is notable
interest as to how
can be aligned with
the defined brand
research has crystallised one of the most influ-
ential drivers that support internal brand build-
ing: the chief executive officer.
Chief executive officers are, as all other
members of staff, either enabled or constrained
by corporate structures. However, CEOs have
access to more corporate rules and resources
due to their social position. They can initiate
and facilitate change along the defined brand
values. It is proposed that CEOs can do this
in two ways: by formulating the brand vision
and by facilitating social interaction within
The CEO s strongest influence during the
process of internal brand building is the devel-
opment of a convincing and inspiring brand
vision. The leadership literature shows the
importance of long-term perspective of the
brand promise as it provides guidelines for
daily decisions. Employees may better identify
with the brand if they are aware of the brand
vision. Organisational transparency creates a
greater sense of security for staff.
Let us examine energy giant bpTT.
The letters bp stands for beyond petroleum.
This demonstrates that the organisation main-
tains a distinct organisational vision, which
is communicated to all stakeholders through
its brand. BP Global maintains very strict stan-
dards of operations, procurement, human
resource development, and environmental
standards. It is through operating at these
standards, and observing the highest bench-
marks the organisation has built an enormous
amount of goodwill and trust amongst its
employees. As a result of this, employees live
the brand values and their positive behaviours
are clearly seen through the eyes of other
Leaders play an active role during the brand
building process when it comes to translating
the brand s promise into action. However, the
other role of leadership is to build bridges
between individuals and the organisation.
Hence, leaders not only influence the internal
brand building process via formal communi-
cation flows, but also through social actions.
Let s take a look at the Virgin Group of
The CEO, Richard Branson, has become
quite synonymous with his organisation s
brand: Virgin. Branson is responsible for hun-
dreds of companies, carrying the Virgin brand,
whose product offerings range from airline
services to clothing. (This is a practical example
of brand stretching).
However, he is a fun loving and adventurous
individual. He has been known to execute
some daring stunts such as parachuting off a
tall building or fun events such as the Tobago
Goat race. His personality has extended into
his organisation s culture, and his employees
ensure all clients enjoy both a fun and pleasant
Such unconventional actions have con-
tributed to building Virgin s internal brand
and, consequently, a very profitable and suc-
cessful international group.
For leaders to successfully execute the inter-
nal brand building process, they must demon-
strate three types of leadership attributes:
• Show commitment
• Live brand values
• Trust employees
Commitment can be demonstrated by being
an integral part of the internal brand building
process. During the initial phases of internal
brand building, leaders generally show support
and commitment but, due to time pressures,
they become less involved with implementa-
tion. In fact, leaders need to show commitment
throughout the entire brand building process.
They must build on the qualities of innovation,
inspiration and imagination.
This creates excitement among employees
and translates into positive reinforcements of
the brand values. An illustration of this point
can be explained in terms of a personal expe-
rience involving a major financial institution.
Someone I knew approached a bank looking
for a particular kind of financing facility. The
lending officer went into the broad details of
the service, but explained that there were
obstacles with respect to their requests.
Rather than leaving the matter in limbo,
the lending officer went out of his way to ren-
der advice and assistance. He even spoke to
his regional manager. After a day, several con-
versations---by telephone and personal meet-
ings---and some innovative thinking, all obsta-
cles were smoothened and the client was
granted the facility.
This action shows that organisational leaders
must be in the middle of the process; working
and guiding their employees.
Live the brand value
Successful leaders are passionate represen-
tatives of the brand promise. Living the brand
may encourage the development of trust and
respect amongst employees. Leaders of organ-
isations that have built high brand equity over
time emphasised the importance of "role mod-
eling". They understand they must lead by
example and demonstrate behaviour that
exhibit the values and promises of the brand.
They must motivate their employees to emulate
similar behavioural patterns. Hence, living the
brand promise serves as both a magnet and
motivator for employees.
Trust and empower the employees
A successful brand leader considers people
as talented individuals who can make valuable
contributions to the internal branding process.
The leader can facilitate participation through
actions such as recruiting people whose values
are similar to the brand, through training and
a fair reward system.
This ensures employees have the necessary
skills to implement the brand vision, that they
understand the external brand environment,
and they are able to judge if there is a fit
between the internal and external branding
Brand leaders trust that everyone in an
organisation is determined to live their "brand
values" and knows how to turn challenges
into opportunities. Empowerment is considered
as the driving force for successful brand build-
ing. Ultimately, this implies giving up control
which, in turn, demonstrates the leader s faith
in their employees.
Organisational leaders will always eventually
lead their employees to the brand-based organ-
isation, which takes the customer-driven
organisation a step further. It demands viewing
customers in terms of how they think about
When a customer thinks about making a
purchase---whether it is a financial service or
toothpaste---usually a few brands come to
mind. In the future, companies that focus on
getting a customer to think about their brand
first will be successful.
It is all a battle for the mind. The customer s
mind or, in this case, the employee s mind.
Successful business leaders clearly under-
stand that one of the pillars of building a suc-
cessful organisation is to develop the most
appropriate internal culture. Thus, we can
conclude that organisational leaders---specif-
ically CEOs---do play a pivotal role in building
the internal brand values of their organisations.
Recognising that brands, rather than the
products or services, is what drives sales,
should motivate leaders to organise and strate-
gically plan around their brands for building
sustainable competitive advantages.
Jaishima Leladharsingh is an independent
researcher and writer. His e-mail is jaishi-
Role of the CEO
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