The world in your hands

By Curtis Gorrell, Strategic Consultant and Rodger Jones, Director Brand Strategy BBN USA | 3 min read

Are you prepared to take your brand global?

A company’s brand is an asset to manage and leverage. The rewards for successful brand management can be great: It can address important customer needs, build a sustainable emotional connection with customers, leverage an organisation’s strengths, develop a competitive advantage through differentiation, and inspire and help mobilise workers. Managing a company’s brand on a global scale provides the same benefits, but also a consistency and clarity in brand identity across the differing characteristics and demographics of the marketplace.

These rewards are not easy to achieve. It takes time, discipline and a definitive process. In the application of BBN's highly effective Brand Asset Management (BAM) model, we utilize a proven process to create a rational way to make decisions, resulting in a common vision and inspired consensus for the brand identity. The BAM model was co-developed by an international team of strategists from BBN partner agencies. It represents the synthesis of global best practices, and has been peer-reviewed, tested and internationally vetted.

An organisation-defining brand is important to any company that wants to try to stake out its position and differentiate itself in the marketplace.

Following are five key elements we have learned to be critical factors, all essential for the success of any global branding effort.

No. 1 - Must have “C” level leadership

Brand strategy is directly dependent on a well-articulated business strategy. This must come from “C” level leadership, with a chief executive who owns it, drives it and is measured by it. The implications of the business strategy should be understood throughout the organization, how it effects products, services, people and locations.

Brand strategy can help bring a clearly-defined business strategy to life, both internally and externally, supporting growth. For this to occur, the chief executive must see the need for a brand strategy and demand it. There should be 100 percent involvement of “C” level leadership in developing it, applying authority when necessary to overcome resistance to change. There must be a strong and unwavering leadership commitment to the process to create an effective brand strategy, coupled with patience to let the process play out without compromising the final result.

No. 2 - Be ready for resistance

It is essential to have “C” level endorsement for development of a global brand strategy because it means engagement in a process that will lead to change, and there is always resistance to change.

One of the most common challenges we find is overcoming the “Not Invented Here” syndrome. This comes in the form of at least three distinct reactions, each of them concluding that a strategy not invented “here” will not work here. One version is to say “it’s already been tried” and it didn’t succeed. Another frequent barrier is the proposition that “things
are different here,” which could mean different country, different business unit or different market. Resistance can sometimes be characterised as “you just don’t understand us,” which again could be country, business unit, market or more.

Any of these types of resistance can be amplified when mergers and acquisitions are at play in an organisational and brand alignment. There tends to be an emotional investment and allegiance to brands, and that needs to be recognised and transferred in building a new brand strategy.

These are all challenges that cannot be simply dismissed. Legacies and differences need to be identified and understood in the brand development process, and then incorporated into dialog about the offering, benefits and values in the new brand strategy.

No. 3 - Break down the silos

We have found that the best way to overcome the “Not Invented Here” syndrome is to employ inclusion. It is a cornerstone in BBN's BAM process. It’s crucial to break down the barriers that may separate associates working within the same global organisation, including a diverse representation of people in the brand strategy process, enabling everyone to bring their unique perspective to help address the bigger picture.

The facilitation of brand strategy development works best in cross- functional teams, with participants recruited from up, down and all across an organisation. It’s particularly important in global branding to be sure to span all dimensions of differences such as country of origin, focus of business unit, focus of job function, gender and so forth.

No. 4 - Engage a definitive process

The practice of inclusion can only deliver effective results if it is carried out in a definitive and proven process. The varied perspectives and experiences of the participants must be harnessed and directed toward the goal of brand building. With the business strategy serving as the touchstone for organisational goals, the broad points of view from the brand development team need to be engaged along a path of focus, refinement and ultimately, consensus on how the brand can best support the business strategy. An effective process will foster commitment among participants and enhance implementation.

In applying a definitive process, clear expectations should be established in advance for all concerned. That includes outcome, deliverables, timeline and milestones, investment and time commitment at all levels. Key stakeholders are not only identified and engaged in brand strategy development, but also for implementation. “Ambassadors” can be recruited to introduce the brand across all internal publics, the entire organisation first learning how to represent or “live the brand” before any communications campaign expresses it to external audiences.

No. 5 - Objective evaluation enables rational decisions

In looking at more than ten years of experience implementing our BAM model, the most striking benefit is the ability to help organisations make good, strategic, rational decisions about their brand. It’s a process and methodology that helps diffuse emotion, leading to objective evaluation of alternatives. Our goal is to demystify branding, make it understandable and accessible. That allows us to tap into the greatest asset of any organisation - a cross- section of its talented people.

An established methodology leads clients through an exploration of many scenarios - weighing and discussing all the pros and cons - to ultimately channel many points of view. This provides a collective conclusion of the best possible definition for what their brand needs to be to help their organisation succeed.

Considering taking your brand global? Get in touch with one of our partners in over 43 global locations