I’ve been in touch with a few tech CEOs over the past year and I know it is not easy being them; they are responsible for financing, product development, legal, the code, usability, hiring, business metrics and last but not least strategy.
The true test of a great CEO, though, is what happens after these two words pass through his or her lips “major rebranding.” “Major rebranding” is code for we don’t have a focused strategy. Sadly, most rebranding assignments often yield a PowerPoint deck filled with marko-babble, a logo (nice), tagline (generic), a visual symmetry discourse and bill for some serious money. Most of the bill, by the way, pays for tactics.
Branding is all about strategy. It is forward looking, consumer-facing, fresh, it pushes the culture (business or societal), and all the heavy lifting is done before any visual tactics or art are employed. The precursor of a branding idea is a suit strategy and it should reflect each and every element the CEO cares about (see first paragraph). When the suit strategy talks to the CEO and makes him/her smile, the rest of the job can begin.
If you run into a CEO who when commenting about a rebranding project says “I’ll know it when I see it,” give the check back and run.