Russell Parsons: For Twitter to join the world’s top brands, it must push marketing

The call for marketers to be more numerate, more attuned to business objectives and to speak of marketing in terms of outcomes and not just the creative process has been getting louder in recent years. In short, to speak in a language the finance director understands.

Russell thumb

Last week Twitter ensured its top marketer would not fail the latter test by putting its CFO Anthony Noto in charge of marketing. This is not a case, however, of him swapping one high profile operating board level job for another. Rather, he is adding marketing to his growing list of responsibilities, which includes accounting and real estate as well as finance.

After taking a moment to marvel at Noto’s ability to multitask, this is an extraordinary decision for a company that is struggling to stand out in an increasingly competitive and crowded sector.

In a call with analysts, Noto explained the move is part of an effort to elevate marketing to board status and ensure it “permeates” the entire company. How about actually appointing a board-level marketer? Noto is Twitter’s third marketing boss in a year and not one of those was what anyone would recognise as a marketer.

Twitter has admitted it needs to establish a clear brand proposition as it looks to close the gap between brand awareness and usage. Noto is not alone in this quest but he is the man with the ear of the decision makers. For all his skills, he is not a marketer. He does not have the sensitivity to customer requirements every great marketer has.

Twitter should look to Facebook, which has five times as many active users as Twitter’s 302 million and has built up extensive marketing expertise led by Carolyn Eversen. Facebook is one of the star performers in this year’s BrandZ list. It has the fastest rate of brand value growth this year.

There are several takeaways from this year’s list – Apple is the first $200bn brand, UK brands are stuttering while Chinese brands soar. But the key lesson is this – the world’s most valuable brands put as much faith and muscle behind marketing as they do finance. Twitter should take note.

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