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Don't let the CMO-CIO axis dehumanize your brand

Don't let the CMO-CIO axis dehumanize your brand

Much has been written about the need for CMO and CIO alignment, for good reason.

In the digital age, marketing needs digital tools to communicate and connect with customers. The big data explosion enables customers to be tracked and profiled, and marketing effectiveness measured, as never before. And mobile technologies offer the prospect of transforming the in-store experience.

No wonder Gartner predicted that CMOs would spend more on technology than CIOs by 2017.

Yet ironically, these same forces require brands to become more human. The connected world has put on show the behaviors of the brand beyond frontline employees. Customers can now sense what the company behind the brand is really like.

For example, if mobile technologies are deployed to genuinely improve the shopping trip, it says one thing to customers about what the company values. If they are deployed simply to persuade customers to spend more, it says quite another.

Consequently, alongside the CIO, the CMO also needs to work closely with HR to shape a culture where everyone lives and breathes the brand.

This takes a lot of time and effort. It requires a clear sense of purpose to be established for the brand, that motivates employees and customers alike. It requires this purpose to be hard-wired into the company's policies and processes, so that it can be delivered day-in, day-out.

And perhaps, most of all, it requires employees and customers alike to be treated as people, so that they can interact naturally.

This work may not have the glamor of shiny new digital tools. But without their HR colleagues, the CMO-CIO axis risks building brands that customers sense are not genuine...

Have you seen any examples of this?

Simon Uwins is a former CMO of Fresh & Easy and Tesco UK, and author of "Creating Loyal Brands" (2014). Find him online at

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