Branding should not be designated merely as a function of the marketing department. Everyone involved in a company's business, from front-line employees to management, plays an important role in delivering the brand promise of the organization no matter what they do.
Consider a production manager who has found a way to lower costs by substituting a raw material in packaging without testing it. The material causes a subtle change in the product that is not picked up in the factory quality control. The customer notices a change in the product performance and complains about quality. The Tech Service Team checks the product and reports it is fine because only part of the product, the part used, was affected. R&D tries to solve the problem, but quality is now seen as inconsistent. Customers drop their purchases, and business goes into a loss.
The problem here is a packaging material change that saved a fraction of a cost but destroyed the credibility of the product in the mind of the customer. This is not a marketing problem. It is a business problem. The people in the factory weren't sensitive to how their changes would impact the product and the experience the customer would have.
Management's job is to make sure that the right brand promise is made and that it is delivered upon—a critical action that begins at the top with the CEO. Once the CEO is on board, he or she needs to communicate and reinforce the brand promise to their direct reports who, in turn, take it to their reports and so on. The job of marketing is to provide the leadership in creating the brand promise, creating the expectations and measuring the delivery of the promise.
It takes a whole organization to deliver the brand promise.
Dean Adams, recently director of corporate brand management at 3M, is currently a principal brand strategist at LEVEL. He can be reached at email@example.com.