Brands are the building blocks of today’s organizations. Often representing the emotional or relational connection between a company and its consumers, a brand can account for a significant portion of a company’s asset value. If not monitored carefully, it can also be a source of great organizational risk.

In this episode, host TK Kerstetter welcomes Tara Walpert Levy, vice president of Agency and Brand Solutions at Google and YouTube and board member with Bloomin’ Brands, to discuss the board’s role in brand oversight. What are boards responsible for when it comes to monitoring, protecting and even shaping a company’s brand?

Every board looks…at the P&L and what’s going on in the financials of the business—but the brand is critical to driving long-term business health. Do [boards] have brand goals and brand metrics that they are [frequently] looking at…to make sure they’re ahead of what are likely to be signs of business [stress] that show up in your P&L a little bit later?

Tara Walpert Levy, Board Member, Bloomin’ Brands

Kerstetter asks Levy to design a crash course for board members around brand and reputational oversight. What would it entail? Levy outlines three key areas she believes all boards should consider relative to organizational brands—particularly when there are multiple brands to manage within the corporate brand umbrella.

“In particular, where boards see the forest for the trees because they’re not as involved in the day to day, they can help [management] ensure that they’re not defining competition too narrowly,” said Levy. She gave the example of a modern restaurant chain whose competitors no longer just include other restaurant chains, but a range of other entertainment companies that now compete for consumers on an experiential level.

“[This kind of brand analysis] might help the management team think a little bit differently about how…they’ve thought through their unique brand definition and values,” said Levy. “Since that [brand definition] should be driving your decision-making, your product, your communications, it’s a critical baseline for [the board] and the management team to have in evaluating ongoing strategy.”

Kerstetter also asks about Levy’s experience joining the Bloomin’ Brands board in her late 30s. What was the recruitment process like? What perspective does she bring to her board regarding culture oversight, talent development and reputation management?