Branding and the CMO

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(Note: Click play to watch a selected video from the series. You can also watch the complete chaptered interview on our YouTube channel).

Highlights from the interview (at the time of this interview, Peter was the CMO of the RSA Insurance Group):

Using the brand to help define marketing

I’m CMO of a global insurance company, and we face really challenging market conditions. It's highly competitive, so having a clear brand strategy and knowing what you're about, where you're going, and how marketing can influence the direction of the business is more important than ever. 

The company I work for is 303 years old. Having a real sense of what makes us different and why we're going to attract customers is very important. My team and I have been playing a powerful role on brand strategy. For the last six months I've led a project to re-examine our purpose, what we're about, and why we're different. This has created a powerful driving force for good in the organization. People are really behind a new sense of direction and vision that I know is going to affect the lives of our customers and our brokers for the better, and we're already seeing fantastic results from that. 

So, yes, marketing can be all about great branding and creative, but it's much deeper than that. It's about real change as an organization and helping to drive growth. I've done a lot of work with the rest of the executive team over the past year, educating them about the value and strength and role of marketing. Brand has really helped us with that initiative, but bringing new things to the table like educating them on social media and the power of digital marketing has also opened their eyes.

Sharing ownership of the big decisions

The most effective way to make any marketing decision is to involve people outside marketing. It's a real danger if your decision-making is done in isolation. You can make small decisions on your own, but for the larger ones you should involve more people in the organization and give them ownership too. 

Take brand as an example. The brand is about the DNA of your business. But brand projects often start in marketing and can dry up when they leave marketing and go to other functions. Involving others and collaborating with others is vitally important to marketing success. We're all part of the brand. It should be something everybody owns. It's not just marketing doing the brand. It’s also vital to involve others in order to educate people on your function and what you're about.

The importance of relationships

If I had to point to three key relationships among the multitude of stakeholders I need to influence and work with, I'd start with the HR director. That relationship is vital, because a lot of what we're trying to do through marketing and brand is to drive a change of culture in an organization. So the HR director has to be my best friend. My relationship with the finance director is also important. I've seen too many situations where marketing and finance have been at odds and end up in a bit of a power battle, when finance should be marketing’s best friend and should be an enabler. Finally, it's vital that I've got a really strong relationship with the CEO. You need that blessing, that sponsorship, and that endorsement for your agenda. It’s important to know that we're on the same page with great understanding and that he'll support me in every situation, as he's done very well in the past year.