This is a question I get asked quite often, and thought it might be useful to briefly answer, and to document that it is a common concern and often asked.
In the beginning, this is probably a shared task headed-up by the CEO, C-level Suit, Board, and implemented by anyone available to task, but by now, it’s probably time to choose someone. This person can be the Brand Steward, or CBO, or Creative Director, Head of Design, Brand Officer, Head of Marketing, etc., but someone will need to take this most important role into the future.
Who this is, is largely dependent on how the organization is structured and what makes sense. Is it a simple, centralized group? Are there localization concerns? Is it a decentralized structure with shared knowledge and interaction concerns? And at what level is someone able to effectively implement change?
The skill set spans a liberal variety: analytical, organizational development, financial, creative, etc., but the person also needs to be of a certain temperament and emotional intelligence. Hard data needs to be analyzed, but also soft data needs to be interpreted from what users are saying. (“Don’t listen to what they say, interpret what they mean.”) So both quantitative and qualitative data needs to be understood and that person needs to be deeply empathetic to get it.
Who stewards the brand is a diversely skilled and empowered, empathetic individual capable of interpreting both qualitative and quantitative information, and applying solid intuition to evidence. That person needn’t be a brooding, billionaire, playboy do-gooder with a gadget fetish who self-identifies with bats — but, close.