Why marketing should not own branding

I first came across the problem of who owns branding whilst working, many years ago, as a creative lead and graphic designer. We’d get briefs into our studio which were asking us to paint an image of a brand we knew was untrue. We were asked to veneer the brand. Make it appealing. Even when the offer of what was actually on offer was not in line with that image. When we knew that there was toxic cultures within and things which might actually might leave customers worse off. This, to our horror, we would discover only after we’d been commissioned to do the project in the immersion phases of projects.

But how do we make brands authentic? Many businesses do not set out to create a fake empty brand. Many founders want to truly make a difference. Startups, I find, are usually authentic to their brand cause. When business is young and small everyone can pull in the same direction. But I find, that it’s when time goes on and the startup turns into a scale-up that mistakes are made. That is when brands truly suffer and splinter. People loose sight of why the business originally started. Founders are phased out. New leaders are brought in. Each have their own ideas and agenda. No frameworks are developed to join up thinking to the brand. Customer and employee experience can suffer. There is a disconnect. A splintering in thinking. And eventually some poor creative team unwittingly win a project where they find they are putting lipstick on a monster.

Why is this? Well I believe it comes from the strange idea that Branding should be owned by Marketing. In this post I’m going to suggest this needs rethinking.

Definition of “Brand” and “Branding”