Brand differentiation: Clear leadership is necessary

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Keep us focused

Multiple sub-brands necessitate a clear vision

Recently mentioned in relation to IHG’s large portfolio of hotel brands, “a fine balance between quantity & quality, content & context and grit & quit. The vision is clear with the right leadership in place.”

This couldn’t be more relevant. Leadership is the captain of the ship. A massive cruise liner with thousands of people aboard, depending on an individual (or small team) in charge. Someone who must always be looking in the distance toward the intended destination. Eyeing any trouble that might be up ahead before it clearly comes into focus for then you have lost precious time. Leadership has long term goals solidified and with utmost commitment to, yet can still channel a strong momentum to adapt quickly. Even one degree off course without seeing it has the potential to sink a ship.

For large corporations, such as Hilton with 16 brands or Marriott with 31 brands divided into 5 categories with 9 groupings under them, identities get a little tricky. Granted, many of these brands have been purchased as to fill out a portfolio and were not born from the same parent, but the quality, consistency and service should be where one can rely on the Marriott reputation.

A brand is a company’s external face and behavior, however the vision starts from within. A single person can have many different personalities. Don’t we all change our behavior at least a little bit depending on who we are with, where we are, our energy level and how much we care about the impression we are giving. Well, one overarching brand can have much the same menu of personas. Adapted characteristics for various situations, but still the same heart.

Creating a design system to communicate this brand unity while giving each experience its own personality is where great leadership is paramount. The CMO should have a close, honest relationship with the CEO and others in the C-suite so the goals are unwavering regardless of what storms may come. The marketing direction must be clear to pass on to the design director to manager to art director to production artist so that everyone is empowered to make decisions that support the companies mission.

Life and work and business is better with a mix personalities, but in the end, we’re all at the same party.
— Tiffany Edwards