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10 Best CMOs to Watch 2020

‘We tackle your most challenging business issues and help you unlock new brand growth,’ says the Beloved Brands CMO, Graham Robertson


A chief marketing officer (CMO) is responsible for all the marketing activities that drive demand and sales. The CMO oversees various functions for a business like product marketing, brand management, pricing, marketing communication, customer service, and distribution channel management. The CMO is responsible for creating innovative and smart marketing strategies that build a tight connection that moves customers and builds long-term brand loyalty. The ideal CMO must possess incredible communication and leadership skills. To take any business to the next level, a CMO must be a ground-breaking leader with strategic, creative, and financial acumen, matched by the sharp business instincts to make tough decisions.

As businesses have shifted to a global consumer base, marketing has become more complex and diverse than ever before. With the rise of the internet and the insurgence of new technologies and media choices, consumers are drastically altering their behavior and tastes.

Beloved Brands is a boutique brand consulting and training firm located in Toronto, but they bring a global reach with experience in over 20 countries around the world. Graham Robertson is the founder and CMO of Beloved Brands, started in 2010, with a purpose to help their clients build brands that consumers will love and to make brand leaders smarter.

In conversation with Graham Robertson, CMO of Beloved Brands

Q. What do you think are the three main qualities to become a successful CMO?

The best CMOs believe their people come first. They understand that smarter people will make better decisions, will produce greater work, and will drive higher growth results. The CMO should be a visionary, not just for the direction of the brand, but the inspiration to their team. CMOs should come up with a theme that taps into the purpose, beliefs, expectations, and leader behaviors they will reward. Be a consistent, authentic, and an approachable leader with an open-door that will make it easier for your people to engage you. Investing in training your people pays off. Not only will marketing training help your people reach their full potential, but investing in their skills will help them make the right strategic decisions and produce exceptional marketing work that leads to higher growth on your business. The most popular training we are asked to deliver focuses on strategic thinking, brand positioning, writing brand plans, marketing analytics, and decisions on marketing execution.

Q. How do you define success for the new CMO in the first 12 months and the first 5 years?

Most of our clients are CMOs, and we help them achieve their revenue growth targets. I see success as a combination of impact in the marketplace and business results for the brand. Marketers always must balance the short-term performance and the longer-term impact on their brand. Yes, there is a push to hit revenue, share, and profit targets. However, I believe every year should see the brand achieve a major impact that enhances the positional power of your brand. As the market is always moving, whenever you feel your brand is standing still, it likely means you are falling behind. The media world is more cluttered than ever. Consumers see 5,000 brand messages per day. Rather than adding your own clutter to the clutter, you should be adding clarity about your brand. At Beloved Brands, we help our clients find that clarity in message. I am a believer in building your brand behind a brand idea that can inspire and steer everyone in your company to know their role in delivering the brand. The brand idea must organize how you deliver the brand promise, brand story, product innovation, purchase moment, and consumer experience.

Q. Can you brief us about the history of your company and the importance of your role in its success?

Beloved Brands is a boutique brand consulting and training firm. We help our clients build brands that consumers will love, and we make brand leaders smarter. Many of our clients can find themselves stuck along the way, whether it is deciding what the brand should stand for or where the brand should go next. I see our role as that of a brand therapist; we ask tough questions and listen a lot. We should never give you the answer but help bring your answers out and challenge those answers to be better. As the CMO of Beloved Brands, I have created a voice in the marketplace that replicates our consulting methods, showcasing our playbook tools. We try to inspire our fellow marketers to think differently about their brand or themselves. This helps our clients see the potential of how we can help them to be a better marketer.

The internet has opened our world with clients in over 20 countries, including China, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Mauritius, the Maldives, Germany, U.K., New Zealand, and throughout North America.

Q. How has marketing impacted the company’s bottom line over the past couple of years?

We have created a very active voice in the marketing world, using LinkedIn, our Beloved Brands blog, and our two books to connect with brand leaders. We have amassed a substantial following and have generated over 5 million views of our blog. Our own marketing can serve as a role model for how B2B brands can achieve success in the modern world. We use our content to generate warm leads for our consulting and training services. We do zero cold-calls. We believe no one likes cold calls. We have not done a sales presentation in years. Honestly, I would not even be able to find my business cards. The world of B2B marketing has changed dramatically. Everything is virtual and faster than it was when we started.

Our Beloved Brands marketing is focused on effort more than dollars. With a large following of marketers around the world, we openly show everyone exactly how to do anything related to marketing. We hold nothing back. Our openness creates a bond with our fellow marketers, who then reach out and engage us. In terms of sales, we answer the phone to prospective clients who say, “I have been following Beloved Brands for years, and have been looking for an opportunity to hire you.”

Graham Robertson, CMO of Beloved Brands

Graham Robertson is one of the voices of today’s brand leaders. As the Founder and CMO of Beloved Brands, he has been a brand advisor to the NFL Players Association, Shell, Acura, The Mayo Clinic, Miller beer, and Slack. He has helped train some of the best marketing teams around the world, teaching strategy, brand positioning, brand plans, and advertising. His purpose is to use his marketing experience and provocative voice to get marketers to think differently about their brands, and to explore new ways to grow. In his marketing career, Graham has experience with some of the world’s most beloved brands at Pfizer, Coke, General Mills, and Johnson & Johnson, rising up to VP Marketing. He has won numerous awards, including Marketing Magazine’s “Marketer of the Year,” BusinessWeek’s best new product award, and four Effie advertising awards. Graham’s first book, the bestselling Beloved Brands, is the playbook for how to build a brand that consumers will love. Graham has released his second book, B2B Brands, which brings B2B case studies to life. Both books are written as a ‘how-to’ book for any brand leader who has to get things done, and set their brand up to win in the market.

“With our Beloved Brands marketing training programs, we make brand leaders smarter, so they can realize their full potential”