Dear Chief Branding Officer (CBO) Networks members, https://www.linkedin.com/groups/4954835
Thank you very much for letting me join your group. I liked the description of the group’s purpose and the recent discussion. My first task was to identify the CBO members of the group. Many were involved in branding activities, providing insight strategies, SEO, and more.
However, I only found one member with the title CBO. Perhaps I have overlooked others. Please come forward and join the discussion: Does holding the CBO position lead to becoming a CEO? What can be done to follow this path, and how can a company benefit from choosing their CBO for promotion to CEO?
The most prominent example of an individual following this career path is Steve Easterbrook. He is currently President and CEO of the world’s largest restaurant company – McDonald’s. From June of 2013 until March 2015, he held the position of CBO with McDonald’s. His work for the company is praised on their website, where they note that he “sparked the brand’s recent turnaround by refocusing on the fundamentals of running great restaurants and taking smart risks to address what matters most to customers – quickly. Together with franchisees, suppliers and employees, McDonald’s has built on that foundation to drive operating growth, power a brand with both local and global relevance and enhance financial value across 36,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries.”
This is a great example of the success a CBO can have when promoted to the position of CEO. More impressive details can be found on Easterbrook’s LinkedIn profile . In 1993, he joined the company as a Financial Reporting Manager in London. He then served as CEO of McDonald’s UK, President of McDonald’s Europe- and then Global Chief Brand Officer. In addition to his more than 20 years with McDonald’s, Easterbrook briefly led two UK-based restaurant chains, PizzaExpress LTD and Wagamama Limited, giving him a broader industry perspective and deeper understanding of consumer preferences. Easterbrook is a certified accountant, and served as a visiting fellow of the Oxford University Centre for Corporate Reputation. He has a degree in natural sciences from Durham University, where he also played cricket.
Does Easterbrook’s path represent an exception, or a trend? Will we see more CBOs having similar success in the future? The promotion of CMOs to CBOs is now possible, as many companies now identify their brand as an asset . This has been acknowledged not only within consumer goods companies but also in B2B firms . In companies like GE or SAP, the first CMOs have been established. Most of these leaders were coming through communication functions, like Beth Comstock (who is now Vice Chair of business innovations at GE) and her successor, Linda Boff, or Maggie Chan Jones from SAP.
I encountered another individual who has followed a similar path at the last AMA conference in Atlanta. Dick Lynch, board member at Granite City Food & Brewery, discussed his progression from CMO, to CBO, to becoming a member of the board. He developed the branding iceberg model for Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen, and puts the brand in his inner management focus . The new CMO now reports to him.
The CBO, I have identified in the Chief Branding Officer (CBO) Networks group is Sudeer Shetty, the Co-Founder & CBO at eReleGo Digi Media Pvt. Ltd. I am interested in hearing Sudeer’s story, and many more.
Who else is a CBO and how did you get there?
 Neumeier, Marty (2006). The Brand Gap: How to Bridge the Distance Between Business Strategy and Design, Berkeley, CA: New Riders Publishing.
 Kotler, Philip Pfoertsch, Waldemar (2006). B2B Brand Management, Springer Publishing, Heidelberg, New York.
 Bedbury, Scott, and Stephen Fenichell ( 2014). A new brand world eight principles for achieving brand leadership in the twenty-first century. New York: Penguin Books.