Inspirational leaders – Barnaby Dawe. Barnaby shares his perspective on the what the future holds for the role of a CMO, as the world enters the new normal.

As part of Grace Blue’s continuing series of leadership talks, we were delighted to welcome Barnaby Dawe who has enjoyed a career leading marketing and customer functions for several high-profile, consumer brands. Barnaby shared insights about the impact of the global crisis and the future role of the CMO, as well as his perspective on what makes a great leader. 

Barnaby talked about how the CMO/CCO role has evolved over the years and made a significant shift towards the heart of commercial decision making within organisations.  He observed that the customer journey has become more complicated and customers have high expectations of how a brand should engage with and listen to them at each stage of this journey. So although the role of the CMO/CCO is critical in understanding customers and a vital component of the commercial engine of an organisation, it is often a confused role with a broad set of responsibilities taking in anything from brand, advertising, PR and corporate comms to data, trading levers and technology. It is this confusion that perhaps makes expectations of the CMO/CCO role sometimes unrealistic resulting in the role having the shortest tenure on any Exec (average three years).

We talked about what it takes to be a successful CMO in the current climate. Barnaby’s view was that the CMO/CCO has played a crucial role during the pandemic in ensuring a consistent and clear communications plan with all stakeholders, not just consumers. And the CMO now plays a pivotal role in helping businesses transition to the ‘new normal’ as we come out of the pandemic. CMO’s now have a chance to reframe a company’s digital strategy with a need to combine combine the art of branding with data and measurement, differentiating between the pre and post Covid era and staying ahead of a rapidly changing landscape.

Barnaby has worked in many different organisations and cultures. His view was that successful leaders are gritty and determined, driven and passionate, with a clear idea of where they are heading and the ability to clearly communicate to everyone, internally and externally. Success is delivered by leaders who are able to galvanise the whole organisation and who are confident enough to be honest, authentic and open, and create a unified collegiate environment. An environment within which everyone knows exactly what role they play in achieving the end goal.  

Looking ahead for the CMO role, Barnaby believes that creativity will become ever more important and therefore good creative judgement will be key.  He believes that communication produced by data analysis married with a fearless ‘hunch’ and brave creativity will set the standard. Tying all the technology together so brands present a single customer view will be a winning ingredient. He believes that the CMO needs to take responsibility to partner well with an agency, giving them freedom to ensure excellent creative and commercial thinking, delivering interesting brand messages in a consistent way.  Customers have high expectations and marketeers and agencies shouldn’t disappoint. 

Keeping close, very very close, to customers will be the single most important element that determines the success of a brand.