In the dramatic television
series “Mad Men,” a fictional
Madison Avenue advertising
agency continually creates
new campaigns and pitches
them to clients.
Why Every Project Needs
a Brand (and How to Create One)
Project leaders who embrace a brand mindset will be in a
stronger position to achieve their goals and deliver on the
organization’s business strategy.
BY KAREN A. BROWN, RICHARD ETTENSON AND NANCY LEA HYER
How can leaders get the
right level of
attention, resources and
; Project leaders must
sequence, time and
articulate core messages about their
projects to the right
; Branding the project
will make it easier to
succeed (at least internally).
; The key is to adapt
the principles of
management to the
planning, development, launch and
delivery of project
BRANDS. PRODUCTS HAVE THEM. Services have them. Organizations have them. Even
people have them (think Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey or Frank Gehry). And, we argue, the internal
face of every company project needs one as well.
Broadly speaking, a brand can be defined as a unique value proposition expressed in a relevant
and differentiated way such that it creates preference and loyalty among key audiences.
So why is project branding important? Because your project can suffer in the absence of a compelling brand.
Consider the project environment at innovation heavyweight 3M. CEO George Buckley recently described the uphill struggle he faces to rally teams and support for seemingly mundane
projects not perceived to offer breakthrough potential. For example, there was the recent decision
by the 108-year-old company to seek improvements in one of its oldest product lines — industrial-grade sandpaper. The project was strategically important to 3M’s organic growth goals, but
employees shied away from it, preferring to put their efforts into more high-profile initiatives.
Buckley lamented that projects that R&D teams do not find “sexy” often acquire second-tier status.
COURTESY OF AMC
SUMMER 2011 MIT SLOAN MANAGEMENT REVIEW 61