Chief Communications Officers and Chief Marketing Officers are two sides of the same coin when it comes to brand stewardship.

And yet, they are often separated by a chasm of tradition, experience and mindset. It is a fissure that begins at the most basic level – how long these two executives generally spend in their respective roles. For example, the average tenure of CCOs listed in The Holmes Report Influencer 100 is 9.3 years. This is in stark contrast to their CMO counterparts, who spend an average of 3.6 years in their positions, according to consulting firm Spencer Stuart’s  12th annual CMO tenure study. 

There are both positives and negatives to being in these roles for a long or short period of time. For the CCO, more time spent living the brand provides the benefit of historical context when communicating changes in the company, as well as meaningful, long-term relationships with the media and other external constituents. No one understands and can communicate a brand’s vision more accurately than a long-term CCO, and this has great value for safeguarding corporate reputation, content development and internal communications.

At the same time, too much time in the same place, amid the same surroundings, working with the same team can stifle creativity and make a CCO wary of bold new ideas. He or she often intuitively knows what the CEO likes and expects, and is therefore at risk of toeing the status quo.

For CMOs, a relatively limited amount of time in their positions can have its own pros and cons. While in the short run less familiarity with the brand can lead to missteps, such as chasing trends that aren’t right for the brand, it also creates an urgency for bold new ideas. A CMO without a lot of history is not encumbered by the past. 

The CCO and CMO must partner if they are to develop truly creative and breakthrough ideas for their brands. The most creative ideas are both novel and useful, and studies have shown that they come from teams that feature both old and new partners. Brian Uzzi and Jarrett Spiro’s “Collaboration and Creativity: The Small World Problem”  found that in the innovative, high pressure world of Broadway theater, the most successful production teams were composed of colleagues who were less familiar with one another, bringing fresh ideas to the table that enhanced the creativity of the show. 

Whether the average tenure of the CCO drops or that of the CMO increases, both with have to remain fresh and creative, meeting in the middle of what has traditionally been two distant corners of brand management.