What role do CFOs have in advancing a strong brand and a vibrant corporate culture? Apart from participating in company cultural activities and doing their part to live the brand, the answer is not that obvious.
Or perhaps it is: Just do what you do. In other words, if it’s the CFOs job to pay attention to the numbers and do analysis on where they can be improved, adding a brand+culture lens when looking at P&Ls can be immensely valuable. Here’s how:
If top line growth has slowed, eyes would typically be cast on the product line, sales, or marketing. Within marketing, the suspect would usually be reach and frequency of advertising and promotion. But a more thorough examination might conclude that beyond simple awareness in the marketplace, there is a lack of trust in the brand or a failure for that brand to resonate with the target audience’s drivers, or deep human needs. CFOs can influence the discussion to include brand+culture. As investments go, a stronger brand strategy that includes a more inspiring vision, a more appropriate brand persona, a resonant set of core values, and a clear articulation of the customer’s drivers is eminently affordable and can have an outsize effect on the top line.
CFOs who are looking to reduce costs can look at two line items related to brand+culture. First, customer acquisition and retention costs tend to be much lower for companies with strong a strong brand+culture profile. Customers who have built a relationship with a brand and admire the company’s culture are far more loyal and are also willing to pay premium prices to associate themselves with that brand+culture. Talent acquisition and retention follows a similar path. The highest skilled workers want to associate with strong brands that cultivate positive, vibrant cultures. Once there, these workers are more effective and efficient at their jobs, and they tend to stick around longer.
The bottom line is that CFOs have a distinct role to play in leveraging brand+culture to contribute to the success of a company. Their deep understanding of the numbers, paired with advocacy to devote greater attention and resources to brand+culture, are a powerful combination.
It would be great to see more CFOs wield that power.