Why more retailers are hiring chief brand officers

the competition. Activities driving brand loyalty are increasing revenue in a way that customer experience (CX), user experience (UX), and employee experience (EX) cannot do alone. 

By re-evaluating the C-suite and appointing a chief brand officer (CBO), retailers can tap into the psychology behind why we buy and unify everything under brand experience, driving profitability and relevancy in every corner of the organisation.

BX is the new X

Brand experience has always been around and always been essential, it just needs to be re-defined. Contrary to public perception, a brand is much more than a beautiful logo or a nice colour palette: it’s the intangible and emotional feeling your brand creates for those who interact with it. 

Brand experience has often been sidelined as a marketing tactic, rather than being seen as a stand-alone strategic focus. Yet it is intrinsically linked to CX, UX, and EX – and is arguably the overarching entity for them all. Driving genuine connection cannot be the responsibility of just one activity or department. It has to be the undercurrent of your entire business. 

The best way to lower customer acquisition costs and increase repeat purchases is to champion brand experience in your operations. This isn’t to say that it should replace CX or UX, rather, it should permeate every aspect of your business and inform all major decisions. By revising key activities with a brand-led approach, retailers can not only drive profitability, but also overhaul pre-existing negative brand conceptions. 

Crocs brand hits its stride

Take Crocs, for example, which managed to transform its entire customer perception from ‘cringe’ to ‘must-have fashion statement piece’, with the implementation of a clear brand-led strategy. 

Crocs had no problem with brand recognition, but did have a major problem with sales. Calling Crocs a meme back in 2016 would have been no major exaggeration. However, the brand adopted a ‘fan-led’ approach that relied heavily on shaping brand perception via digital marketing channels such as TikTok and celebrity endorsements. In this way, Crocs won the hearts and loyalty of Gen-Z consumers, increasing revenue from US$1 billion to a whopping US$2.3 billion ($3.3 billion). 

Crocs’ innovative new direction was headed up by a new appointment, chief marketing officer Terence Riley, who saw the brand’s notoriety as a strength rather than a weakness. “Everyone around the world knows the silhouette of the Crocs Classic,” Riley said. “So, what we needed to do was move from the awareness, which we had lots of, into really making the classic more relevant. As I like to say, we needed to turn this from a meme to a dream.”

With a clear acumen for brand strategy and a willingness to push the boundaries, Crocs has proven that brand-building activities build revenue over time. 

As Crocs’ example shows, success in retail now lies in consistent and clever brand-led activities. It’s not branding, or marketing, or even CX, it’s all of the little parts of your operations that fall under brand experience that will make or break retailers of the future. 

By identifying and implementing key activities to ensure they remain at the head of the pack, the industry leaders of tomorrow will recognise the power of brand and use it to their advantage to tap into the emotions of their customers and build lasting relationships. 

CBOs are the future of retail 

It’s often said that ‘with great power comes great responsibility’, and this has never been more the case than when it comes to brand-led activities. With a retailer’s entire reputation at stake, placing brand at the heart of your organisation via the appointment of a CBO ensures brand experience is being championed across every department. 

The role of the CBO is essential for driving profitable results across your organisation. It prevents brand strategy from falling through the cracks or being absorbed into the CMO’s responsibilities. A CBO supercharges every department and touchpoint along your customer journey. Some may see CBOs as superfluous, but they play a vital role in driving profitability and relevance.

As the missing component of a C-suite, the CBO works across departments to unite your operations under one singular brand vision. Not only do they pay for themselves by driving exceptional revenue, but also CBOs work closely with the other members of the C-suite, driving loyalty that will last for years, and generations, to come. 

Yeti is one brand that has recognised the necessity of a role with such a mindset. The esky retailer has implemented a brand-centric approach that has increased its profitability monumentally. First-quarter sales for calendar 2022 jumped 19 per cent, to US$293.6 million ($423.9 million) after Yeti adopted brand-led thinking through the appointment of a CBO. Not only did the brand get a major boost in direct-to-consumer sales – which increased 23 per cent to US$156 million – but it has also tactfully applied its brand to create lasting loyalty, which will drive profitability for many years to come. 

Appointing a CBO sets up a retail business for long-term success and exceptional brand awareness and innovation. In the years to come, as the market becomes increasingly competitive for retailers across Australia, retailers with a CBO will be miles ahead. 

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