by Charlotte Trueman

How CIOs can build brand awareness

Nov 16, 2018
CIOIT LeadershipMarketing

What should a CIO be doing to raise the profile of their organisation and grow customer engagement?

laptop data analyze marketing plan report growth
Credit: Thinkstock

In today’s digital age, being able to set yourself apart from your competitors is essential. Sure, you might have a loyal base of repeat customers but how can you expect to grow your business if you don’t stand out from the crowd?

As the youth population continues to grow across the ASEAN region, organisations are continuously looking for new and innovative ways to strengthen their brand need, taking into account the changing cultural attitudes of consumers and the impact technology now has on the way people interact with businesses.

As we’ve previously explored on CIO Asia, the role of the CIO is continuing to evolve beyond being a purely technical position. As a result, a growing number of Chief Information Officers are finding themselves more closely aligned with the marketing department than ever before; tasked with creating a digital vision that will help to raise the profile of the business.

However, creating an exciting and memorable brand is now easy feat. Just because you’ve got a colour scheme and a fun logo picked out doesn’t mean you’ve got a brand. Branding is an on-going process that requires constant and careful thought. So, how do you go about building a successful brand?

Here, we explore what the CIO should be doing to help develop brand awareness and grow customer engagement.

What makes a brand successful?

While your brand plays an integral role in your marketing strategy, you can’t just see it as a marketing tool – it’s so much more than that. Your brand defines the identity of your business, it’s how your customers perceive you and the way to set yourself apart from the competition.

There are however a few things you need to keep in mind when building your brand if you want to make it a success.

Firstly, if you don’t understand your target demographic, your brand will never be successful. Without a clear idea of who it is you want to appeal to; your strategy will lack focus and direction and ultimately, you’ll struggle to capture the imagination of those you want to engage with.

Your brand also needs to be consistent. And not just across all your platforms and services, it also needs to align with the vision and the culture of your company. As your company evolves, so will your brand. However, it’s important that you provide your customers with a consistent thread or a clear point of reference so that 10 years down the line, your brand still sparks immediate recognition amongst consumers.

Finally, it’s important to stand out from the crowd. What are your competitors doing? What works about it? What doesn’t? How can you do it better? Don’t be a cliché, be authentic to who you are as a company. The ultimate goal of a brand is for it to be a defining characteristic of your business. You can’t do that if you market yourself in the same way as every other company operating in your sector.

And don’t worry if your brand doesn’t immediately work as you’d hoped. The most successful brands are the ones that have been fine tuned over time to fit the vision of the company and the needs of your customers.

Building a relationship with the CMO

When it comes to marketing strategies, no one understands more about making a brand successful than your Chief Marketing Officer. However, the rise of digital technologies and decline in ‘traditional’ CIO responsibilities has seen many Chief Information Officers taking on the challenge of growing customer engagement.

Although the CMO and CIO might not appear to be natural bedfellows, the CIO’s ability to think strategically combined with the CMO’s creative understanding and knowledge of customer insight make them best placed to implement a company-wide business and marketing strategy.

Additionally, the CMO’s use of analytics and data to understand the needs of the customer means they know what digital initiatives are being demanded and can guide the CIO’s thinking to produce a more customer-centric outcome.

The evolution of digital platforms alongside the growth in mobile-first and channel approaches has been the biggest driving force behind this new collaborative partnership. As customers come to expect technology trends like artificial intelligence to be baked into their experience, IT needs to be brought on board to achieve the right results.

However, while they might have all the technical know-how, it’s important for CIOs to remain humble when working in partnership with the CMO, understanding their limitations and allowing marketers to do their job. There’s no shame in admitting you don’t have the creativity or knowledge necessary to implement a successful marketing campaign – that’s what your CMO has been hired to do!

Equally, it’s important to remember that no matter what you’re working on, it’s always got to come back to the customer and how you’re going to deliver what they need. Both the CIO and CMO job titles now come with customer facing responsibilities meaning if the vision lacks quality, they can be held accountable.

In the modern enterprise, customer experience is no longer the sole responsibility of the CMO and it’s important that the whole C-Suite team acknowledge this shifting dynamic.

How to get your brand noticed

For CIOs looking to raise the profile of their company outside of an overarching strategy, there are a number of different things they can do to help build an organisational brand.

The proliferation of social media means the majority of C-Suite executives now have an account on at least one platform. Sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn allow people to build and interact with a network of users and cultivate a personal brand based on the content they chose to post on their feed.

Additionally, investing time and money in a corporate social media strategy will help to show your customers you care about them and are willing to listen to their feedback. Regularly posted updates prove you understand how the modern user interacts with businesses and also allows you to spread company news, services and products.

While corporate social media accounts are a must, personal accounts help to improve customer engagement on a more intimate level. Customer-centric business strategies are not a new concept and the more avenues you have open to facilitate this engagement, the better your brand will be.

A number of different tools exist that can help you work out which content your followers respond to best and allows you to target specific markets that you might not be able to reach without a digital presence.

Face-to-face meetings with your customers are also a necessity for building brand awareness. How can you know what products and services you should be delivering if you never sit down and talk to the people who matter most to your business?

Furthermore, speaking with customers in person provides you with another opportunity to outline your USP and make clear what distinguishes your business from its competitors.

Ultimately, a CIO needs to be able to send out a clear message that lets customers know what the business wants to achieve whilst attracting new customers that can help to facilitate future growth.

Building a brand is all about setting yourself apart from your rivals and in today’s age of digital innovation, it’s all about being able to take risks to give yourself that competitive edge. A successful CIO needs to be open minded but never forgets about the importance of engaging with their customers.