We all like to think we’re focused on the future – seeing what’s ahead and making the adjustments required to help brands stay in-step with their audiences. But a culture of disruption puts pressure on marketers to make short-term gains that create immediate value. It might be in an individual’s best interest to make a big noise, but at what cost to the brand?
The pressure builds from the top, with the people ultimately responsible for a brand tending to not stick around long. Often expected to deliver quick wins, the average tenure of a CMO is just four years – the shortest lifespan across the C-suite. A change in leadership often leads to a new strategy and focus. That might mean a shift in positioning, or a full rebrand, as two of the options available for creating impact.
But brands rely on repetition and recognition if they’re to permanently ink the subconscious of their audiences. Humans aren’t wired to constantly change our perceptions, so it’s unreasonable to expect audiences to keep up. Constantly churning ideas comes at a risk to audience engagement and, as a result, long-term brand equity.
We can all feel a little ‘cuckoo’ sometimes. When our brain can’t quite catch up with our own self-reasoning, we make decisions without fully considering the consequences. A lack of mental bandwidth, impatience for success and not feeling in control of a situation are some of reasons why this happens. Brand owners are often exposed to all three.
Of these, control is perhaps the most common reason for CMOs or Marketing Directors changing the direction of a brand. We trust our own instincts and decisions more than anyone else’s, and certainly more than our predecessor. Making an immediate mark might be top of the agenda for newly appointed brand owners, but that doesn’t mean they have to completely reinvent the wheel – maybe just replace a few spokes. Brands are far more effective when they’re built and maintained over time rather than screeching intermittently for attention.
While it should be simple, none of this is easy. From needing buy-in from above, to finding the bandwidth to make an idea stick, there will always be reasons to look for short-term gain rather than long-term value. But your brand will thank you in the long-run if you continue to think fast, but brand slow.