Do marketers need to love their brands?

Do marketers need to love their brands?
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At ADMA Forum in Sydney last month, McDonald’s Canada’s CMO and SVP of marketing Joel Yashinsky (pictured right) announced he “loves McDonald’s and always has”. He said: “You are looking at someone who truly loves the brand.” He said he eats there five times a week and takes his kids there once a week. Is it necessary for a marketer to truly love the brand they represent?

Joel Yashinksy, CMO and SVP of marketing, McDonald’s Canada: YES

My answer is a resounding yes! More importantly, why work for a brand you don’t love? That doesn’t make sense to me.

If you love the brand you market for, I believe your passion and commitment creates a deeper bond and stronger connection that will be reflected in your work.

Prior to joining McDonald’s I took a cut in pay to go work for Southwest Airlines. They were a company I admired and respected prior to joining and, like McDonald’s, my affinity only grew deeper over my time there. 

I believe that truly loving the brand you work for leads to better work, and just as importantly, inspires you with work you look forward to doing day in, day out. I look forward to coming to work every day. 

The only word of caution is that you have to be self-aware of your brand. Like oneself, no company or brand is perfect. I believe it’s essential to know your brand’s strengths and weaknesses and not get caught up ‘drinking the Kool-Aid’. That way, you can stand loud and proud in sharing the love for your brand as I do. That and my love for ‘eating the Big Mac’!

Karen Ganschow, general manager of customer relationship marketing, Westpac: YES

If the marketer is not passionate about the brand on their watch, how can they expect anyone else to care – staff, let alone customers?

It is critical the marketer is a brand advocate and champions the values and brand promise. If there is not a true emotional connection to the brand, this will become apparent very quickly.

I think few marketers can act their way through a lack of love for the brand they represent and the lack of authenticity will make everything that follows seem shallow.

Of course the first people that have to be convinced are the front line staff – they need to feel like they are part of something and want to believe in the promise the brand represents. If they don’t feel passionate belief from the brand marketing team, then why should the folk interacting with your customers care or feel any passion themselves for the brand? If the staff are convinced and believe in the brand then they will get customers to care.

Steve Jobs summed it up best: “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. Don’t settle.”

Jaid Hulsbosch, director, Huslbosch: YES

I don’t know if it’s absolutely necessary to “love” the brand you’re representing, but it’s a massive plus if you do.

Certainly having respect for what it stands for, believing in the product or service offering, and having a deep understanding of the market it operates in, all helps.

There’s truth in fighting for something that you love and of course this very sentiment can be applied to your day job. Having passion for your brand is self-motivating and inspiring for others.

Passion must come with knowledge and vision and be communicated and shared both within your organisation and to your consumers. This magic combination translates to profits.

Those who love the brand they represent actually crave it. It releases positive emotions. It becomes a personal favourite and a lifestyle choice, especially relevant to consumer brands as Joel Yashinsky’s love of McDonald’s has proven. Just don’t tell the wife you’re feeding the kids Maccas three times a week.

Our relationship with brands usually begins with ‘indifference’, evolving to a ‘like’ status. The same rules apply at work.

If you can’t quite ‘love’ the brand that you represent, perhaps it’s time to update that CV and submit it to the brand that you do love.

Ashley Farr, CEO, McCann Australia: YES

Absolutely! Where there’s passion, there’s persistence and this leads to a commitment to making a difference.

You don’t always have to purchase your product – if you work at BMW, not everyone can afford to drive one, but everyone in the marketing team
and the ad agency needs to buy into the values of the organisation.

Agencies are at their best when fully committed. Many famous agencies have bought stock in the companies of clients they are committed to.

On a smaller scale, I’ve done that myself throughout my career. Even my passion for collecting Adidas sneakers was fuelled by working on the Adidas business.

I don’t buy own-label products, I buy my clients’ brands and avoid their competitors.

Joel Yashinsky’s love for his brand and its products led to an innovative and engaging campaign such as ‘Our Food, Your Questions’ – a program of transparency to demystify some perceptions around the McDonald’s brand. Now, that is a commitment to Truth Well Told. It takes passion and dedication to a brand to achieve that.

You can always tell when people don’t buy into their own brand or company.

Let’s be honest – if every single employee in your organisation was a passionate advocate of your brand and business, it would have a significant impact on the bottom line.

You don’t need to have a swoosh or Apple tattoo, eat McDonald’s five times a week or wear Vintage Coca-Cola T-shirts like Jonathan Mildenhall did at a recent dinner we attended – but if you’re not passionate about your brand, how can you ask others to be?

This article first appeared in the September issue of B&T magazine, out now. 

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