By Danil Starobogatov, Head of Global Brand Strategy at Etihad Airways


Why is there that usual conflict between your Brand team and the rest of the organization over performance assessing, reporting & decision making?

Danil Starobogatov

As humans, we lack the ability to understand long term changes and observing trends. There is even a psychological term for this – hyperbolic discounting. It means that we tend to prioritize the Present over Future and explains our inability to notice & address long term issues. 

In a corporate word, it translates into over-dramatizing your monthly, weekly or even daily performance and KPIs across every single department – marketing, social media, finance, IT, revenue management etc. It also means you tend to focus on fixing immediate business issues with short term solutions without a view into long term consequences. 

  • You post something on Facebook and see a jump in XYZ metrics tomorrow? Perfect social idea it was!
  • Your finance team pushes you into product and service cuts and a month later reports savings with no negative impact on customers? Brilliant move!
  • You cut your marketing budget for a product line all together, but see no drop in sales for a few months? Who needs marketing, you say!
  • You see a growth in brand consideration metric and attribute it to that 2 weeks long marketing campaign you ran? Of course, it was the reason!

You might be correct (doubt it, though) – but it is just easier and more natural for your brains to attribute your short term actions to these short term results.

However, it doesn’t work this way in Brand Management.

Brand Management is a Science of Future.

It is one of the most holistic and strategic disciplines out there.

It is not a sprint (never), it is a marathon. To succeed in it, you need a certain mindset (both, in the immediate team and within your C-suite).

Brand Managers live and operate in the next year – their thought horizon is at least 12-18 months in future…

…NOT next month or a quarter or your next brilliant marketing campaign.

Every good and bad brand decision they make today will only impact performance months later.

To maximize that impact, Brand Management must be interlinked with the rest of your organization and should be positioned similarly to strategic advisory, project management & risk management functions.

  • Cutting marketing budget during crisis? Brand team has a POV and will help you understand the long term impact (negative, of course)
  • Changing your product portfolio? Your brand team will explain how this will change your audience perception and risks in a year’s time and should work with you to minimize the impact
  • Planning an acquisition or writing a business case? Have a brand POV section there for more holistic non-financial ROI analysis (there is a lot more to consider, it is never just a numbers game)

Next time you do an organizational development review, think about it, built your team of future scientists (brand team) and put it into the right place to maximize the impact.


PS. Please… don’t ask them why that KPI or this one changed yesterday, ask them how & why it will change next year.