For member-driven organizations, a brand is among the most complex yet valuable initiatives you can undertake. When navigated successfully, your organization enriches its bond with current members while establishing new connections with the next generation.
However, without the proper support, even the most well-executed branding efforts will fall flat. Your CEO or Executive Director (we’ll use CEO in this article) plays a pivotal role in ensuring a brand rollout is effective and embraced by your members and organization. But what is the right level of involvement from your CEO?
The answer sounds a little like Goldilocks: Not too much, and definitely not too little. Ultimately, you need your leadership engaged with a branding project at specific times for its success and the long-term stability of your organization.
Why Branding Is Essential for Member-Driven Organizations
Even the most recognizable brands in the world shift with the times and their audience’s expectations. Your organization is no different. By 2025, Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce. While your new audience still needs the resources your organization provides, they engage with your brand in distinctively different ways.
Millennials are digital natives who prioritize strong design as a means of evaluating the services they use. Strategic branding ensures you tell the full story of your organization in a way that clearly communicates all you have to offer.
Plus, good branding doesn’t just build a stronger connection with prospective members. It inspires and revitalizes your organization and the membership it serves.
Steps for a Successful Branding Project
Securing just the right level of involvement of your CEO is key to a successful and smooth branding initiative. When you work with a skilled agency partner, a branding project progresses through the following stages:
- Discovery: Collaborative research into your brand, its history, and what it should communicate.
- Design: Conceptualizing your visual identity and bringing it to life.
- Refinement: Collaborating with your design agency to ensure the best possible outcome.
- Execution: Delivery of a new brand system and all related collateral.
- Roll Out: Evanglizing your organization’s new brand internally and externally.
For the best results, you need your CEO to be fully engaged during the discovery phase of the project and then advocate for the branding after the work is complete. Apart from weighing in at key checkpoints, your CEO needs to allow you and your team to do what they do best.
How CEO Involvement Impacts a Branding Project
If your branding process doesn’t strike the right balance with your leadership, it can impact your project in the following ways:
The Disengaged CEO
If your CEO isn’t involved in key points of a branding project, they won’t be invested in its results. Rather than enabling the branding to act as a transformative undertaking that benefits the whole organization, a disengaged CEO will see it as just a marketing project.
As your communications reflect your new branding, members grow confused as your leadership fails to deliver consistent messaging. Soon, your organization is back where it started.
The Over-Involved CEO
CEOs are busy and consistently pressed for time. If they insist on remaining involved with every step of the project, your schedule will slip as meetings are delayed to accommodate your CEO’s crowded schedule. Plus, CEOs are not branding experts and lack the expertise to micromanage each stage of the project.
4 Tips for Striking the Right Balance With Your CEO for a Branding Project
A strong brand acts as a guide for how your organization verbally and visually expresses its identity. With these four tips, you can ensure your CEO remains aligned with your branding project at key steps.
1. Secure CEO Investment Before the Project Starts
Gaining buy-in from your leadership for a branding project encompasses more than budget approval. Underscore that the issues with your brand are an organizational problem — not a marketing issue. Your CEO should understand that a robust brand platform provides the solution by communicating the full story of your organization and its value.
Ultimately, you’re coming to an agency like ours because we solve problems with your brand. We’re not decorators. We’re rebuilding your brand from the ground up so it serves your unique challenges.
2. Ensure Engagement From Leadership as Work Begins
During the Discovery stage, you need to maintain involvement from your CEO, leadership team, and board. These people have passion, history, and vision for your organization that your creative team will translate to the building blocks of an engaging brand platform.
Your CEO needs to feel heard in a way that allows them to feel invested and trust the branding project is in good hands. It is critical that they sign off on all strategy documents, as they will be used as the foundation throughout the process.
3. Consult Your CEO for Key Decision Points
As the project progresses, bring your CEO back to review messaging and concept presentations from your design agency. Make sure you provide the correct context for feedback, buy reviewing the strategy documents from the discovery stage. Incorporating feedback from your leadership is crucial to ensuring the work reflects your organization. Plus, these meetings enable your CEO to remain invested in a focused way throughout the branding process.
4. Bring Your CEO to the Front for the Brand Rollout
As marketing director, you’re responsible for much of the hard work that goes into a successful branding project. To reflect that involvement, your CEO may want you to present the project’s results to your organization. Instead, your CEO should act as the face of the rollout. Enabling your organization’s brand to come from the CEO positions the project as an organization-wide initiative—not a marketing campaign.
Leadership sets the tone for how your internal teams view the results of a branding project. During the rollout of the rebranded Associated General Contractors of California (AGC-CA), the CEO had a vision for breathing new life into the brand to celebrate its centennial. By offering his full support of the project which included presenting the new brand to the organization, AGC maximized the impact of its rebranding effort.
During the rollout of our branding project for Visit Sacramento, the organization’s leadership engaged us to present the new brand to their staff, board, and partners. To emphasize the importance of the initiative, the CEO introduced it as crucial for everyone in the organization to embrace. With that kind of support, the new brand was in the right position to reach its full potential.
Branding Projects Thrive When Organizations are Unified
Your CEO acts as a manifestation of the brand and the organization they are steering. Engaging your leadership throughout a branding project gives you a critical advantage in ensuring its success.
But conversations dictating the right role for your boss can be challenging. As you begin pursuing a branding project, you don’t have to navigate these potentially rough waters alone. When you’re working with the right design agency, you gain an expert third-party opinion on how involved your boss should be to secure a successful project. If this sounds like the kind of work that would benefit your organization and its future, we should talk.