You can have the world’s best musicians playing in your orchestra but the music they make collectively can be dysfunctional and awful if they are not playing the same tune.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I have witnessed this first hand in companies struggling to produce a consistent brand performance that drives sales and retains the existing audience.
The excuse I hear from the CEO is that Executive X is a great oboe player or a genius on the violin. It is pretty obvious though that he or she is a soloist. Forgive the switch of metaphors but it is that old adage about needing a champion team not a team of champions.
I can’t imagine a world famous conductor tolerating any member of his orchestra, no matter how brilliant, insisting on playing Brahms when everyone else is playing Bach. It just doesn’t work.
There is no room for rogue players – the result is just noise pollution. If the tune your brand orchestra is playing doesn’t sound right, there’s a good chance someone is ignoring the score. Blocking your ears and pretending it isn’t happening is no solution – eventually the audience will drift away and you’ll be left with an empty room.
In closing, one important observation: Companies that sound like an orchestra playing out of tune aren’t always the result of rogue players NOT following the score. Sometimes there is no score – or its faded and difficult to read.
A brand strategy is not a "nice-to-have" for a company that wants to please its customers and succeed. It might work okay when it is you and a mate with a guitar and a harmonica jamming down the local mall. (ie, a small start up business). But as soon as the orchestra starts to grow, you need to agree or even document the notes or chords you are going to play and ensure everyone is on the same page.