Opinion: Should global brands exhibit central control or local responsibility?
When rebranding a global organisation, there is a fine balance to be found between central control and local responsibility. Often the decision and mandate to roll out a new brand is driven from the global headquarters or central office, and the job of completing all the necessary activities then falls on the local or regional teams dispersed around the world.
When such a complex task gets spread out in a manner such as this, there is often the risk that the brand message will become diluted through misinterpretation and consistency will suffer.
How can an organisation reduce this risk, and ensure that the brand’s message and impact will be effectively rolled out to every corner of the globe?
We call it managing a brand from a central hub with local reach and responsibility. Thanks to technology, the world is indeed shrinking; it is becoming much easier to be present, whether physically or virtually, and participate in the activities of local teams around the globe. This is not about brand micromanagement, but about empowering and effectively supporting teams wherever they may be.
Technology helps us to bridge the gaps left between teams by distance, language and cultural barriers.
Say a global organisation has just launched an exciting new brand, and is ready to begin rolling out the new environmental branding across all regions. Where would it start? Does it understand the status quo at every site that will be affected? The answer is likely no, and its fairly certain that the brand managers aren’t going to receive the budget to fly all over the world to assess them themselves. This is where technology can step in and give them a hand.
By using an online portal or tool that can be accessed from anywhere in the world, it is easy for any team member to add, or indeed receive information, that is available to all parties involved in the project. This type of tool could be used to conduct surveys of existing environments worldwide. By deploying the same survey to all locations, and allowing the local teams to conduct the survey of the area that they know well, they will receive back standardised sets of detailed information that can be used to create globally suitable solutions.
By putting the right processes and tools in place, a global project can quite easily and effectively be managed from one central location, in partnership with local teams. This allows the workload to be shared throughout the organisation, easing the pressure that central brand management teams often find themselves under. It also ensures active participation that builds on a heightened sense of ownership and excitement for what is to come.
Improving processes within an organisation not only allows for better brand management, but can also improve brand consistency enormously, both during and after roll out. Messages, and more importantly, the impact of the brand, can often get lost, distorted or misinterpreted when they are distributed through a vast, multi-layered network. By ensuring that all teams receive their assets and information from one central source, and equally that approval processes are also fed through the same process, you can reduce the risk of off-brand applications surfacing in different markets.
After all, stronger brand coherency means a greater impact.
Jo Davies is managing director of VIM Group, London