Who leads who in the creation of product?
Does the product line manager dictate what should be made next?
Or is it the channels, those closest to the needs of the customer?
Or the creative team with a vision for how the brand can better express itself through product and create a storyline that will break through and drive long-term brand loyalty?
Or, seeing the preferences and desires of the customer in the data, is it the marketer?
Or maybe it’s the merchants and finance team that have pinpointed the best-selling and highest margin offering.
Who goes first?
Answer: It’s the brand team. Who is the brand team? The brand team is the leadership team.
If the leadership team is not well-schooled in the principles, values and vision of the brand –if its members are unable to manifest those principles, values and vision into their area of expertise– then they do not have the aptitude, inclination and skill set to be leaders.
If the product leader doesn’t understand how those principles and values manifest in a product (with the added vision for what that product looks like 3-5 years from now), then they should not be the product leader.
If the channel leader (head of sales) doesn’t understand how the product line should be sold in and presented at retail to create a consumer experience that puts those principles, values and vision on display, then they should not be the channel leader.
If the creative leader can’t connect the dots between the product made, the consumer pain point and the principles, values and vision of the brand to create compelling content, then they should not be the creative leader.
If the message distribution leader (marketing leader) can’t balance the desire to reach more people with the need to connect with the right customers by aligning core principles and values, creating an ever-deepening relationship over time, then they should not be the creative leader.
If the merchants and finance leaders can’t balance the company’s need to make a profit with its function of solving problems for its core customers, never abandoning them for the masses, never breaking its brand promise, it’s reason for being, then they should not be the lead merchants or finance leader.
“Brand” isn’t a department or a title among VPs or in the C-suite. Brand is the unwavering principles, values and vision that creates the standards a company holds itself to in every moment of every day.
The culmination of which exists in the product (or service), the physical manifestation of that brand.
The job of leaders is to define the brand, embody it, instill it, manifest it and grow it.