What it’s really like to represent a global brand

As the chief brand officer at Virgin, my role is to ensure that the brand remains strong and thrives commercially for the Branson family, our shareholders, customers and partners, now and in the future. When I first joined the company, it was run by a series of teams, from IP and Commercial to Purpose and People, Communications and Digital, and Brand Identity, each operating autonomously. My challenge was to draw these talented people together, creating one cohesive team with shared goals and plans. This involved changing deeply ingrained behaviours – no mean feat. Here are the five lessons I’ve learnt along the way…

1. Stay curious. No one person can be expected to have operational experience of multiple disciplines, but in a scenario where you are building a cross-functional, integrated strategy, it’s important to get under the skin of the areas that are less familiar to you. This enables you to give them equal energy, enthusiasm and headspace.

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2. Surround yourself with brilliant people and trust them to do their job. Defining and shaping culture has been a priority for me throughout my whole career because brilliant, passionate people do brilliant work. Finding them is, however, only half the challenge; getting to really know them and trusting them to do their role in their own way is key to success.

3. Don’t just set a vision, embed it. Building vision, purpose and culture into the heart of your business is a must, whether you are just starting out or looking to change behaviours in an established environment. It’s crucial that senior leaders live and breathe it – your purpose should drive the decisions you take and the behaviours that flourish in your company.

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4. Look up and out. Every business, no matter how unique and forward-thinking, benefits from looking up on a regular basis. Inspiration can sometimes be found in the most unexpected places. Look beyond yourself, your competitors, your industry and your territory. You never know what lessons you may learn and where they will take you.

5. Just accept that you’re never finished. Are we there yet? Your brand is never done. Strategy is never complete. You will and should continue to evolve and change until the end of time. By all means, set goals but while there are milestones along the way, there is no finish line.


From: Harper’s BAZAAR UK