Your Board affects your organisation’s Brand.

by | Jul 8, 2024 | Brand Expression, Corporate culture

The organisation’s brand is rarely perceived as the domain of the board, and it is usually not deeply understood across the board or management.

Yet, your brand – not your logo, but your reputation or what you are known for – has a pivotal role to play in the success of the business: its financial health, its growth plan, its risk profile, its stakeholder support, its ability to attract and keep top talent, its social license to operate, its competitiveness into the future.

What’s more, your brand is inextricably linked to your culture.

Your brand is the promise that your culture should deliver.

How much of the above IS considered the domain of the board?

Well, just about everything I’ve listed.

It follows, then, that the board should be across the strategy, challenges and risk associated with the brand.

In addition… it’s important to understand how the board itself affects the health and effectiveness of the organisation’s brand. This happens in 3 key ways:

1. The Chair affects the brand.

Even in the ‘flat’ structure of the board, the Chair has a weighty role to play in the leadership of what the board focuses on and prioritises, as well as what is prioritised in the appointment of the CEO and the board members themselves.

A Chair who ‘gets’ the pivotal role of a strong and aligned brand and culture for an organisation that builds trust, will most likely look for this appreciation in others serving the organisation. As the Chair sets the agenda, if they care about reputation and culture, they will make sure it’s meaningfully and strategically addressed from the top.

2. The Board’s culture affects the brand.

How a board operates may set the tone for the entire organisation. The board works closely with management and this has a flow-on effect to the rest of the organisation’s culture internally and team members’ expression of brand externally.

A board that implements a structure and a set of expectations to build its own healthy culture, connected to management, is more likely to influence a positive culture, and by extension, a positive brand, for the organisation.

And of course, a board with a healthy culture gets things done, moving strategy forward.

3. The Board mix (priorities, ways of thinking, skillset) affects the brand.

The board needs to know what to look for and what questions to ask to dig deeper. This was incredibly clear in a recent AICD panel discussion on the rise of shareholder and stakeholder activism. Reputational and other risks associated with poor management of stakeholders, especially during rapidly changing environmental and social standards and expectations, are incredibly important items for any board’s agenda.

To be informed and to ask good questions is the definition of great stewardship – or, as Dr Kath Hall describes it, ‘the heart of your responsibility’ as a director. The board must make big decisions based on the information it is provided with – so directors must seek to gain a clear understanding of the operating landscape, the potential problem areas, and industry best practice.

A board that has one or more members with strong capabilities in brand, culture, stakeholder engagement and communication (or with an awareness that expertise must be brought in to find the organisation’s ‘gaps’) will set the tone for an organisation that plans strategically for brand and culture, and a management team that can see around corners when it comes to protecting and enhancing their reputation and supporting culture growth – especially in times of major change.