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Global branding - what we’ve learned

A brand is a valuable asset to be managed and leveraged. Done well this helps to address the needs of individual stakeholders, build emotional connections, inspire the workforce and gain competitive advantage. On a global scale, companies are also rewarded with consistency and clarity across a dynamic and often fragmented marketplace.

However, the bigger the prize the greater the challenge. It takes time, discipline and a definitive process. Ours is called Brand Asset Management (BAM). It’s a proven, step-by-step model that creates a rational approach to decision making. The result is a common vision and inspired consensus. In working to develop BAM, we’ve identified five must-haves. Whatever process you’re using as part of your global branding effort, these will be essential to its success.

Secure ‘C’ level leadership

 Effective brand strategy depends on a well-articulated business strategy. This has to come from the top - a chief executive who owns the business strategy and is measured by it. And it must be understood throughout the organization.

With a clearly defined business strategy in place, brand strategy will help bring it to life.  Once again, the chief executive must see the need for a brand strategy and demand it, and there should be 100 percent involvement of  ‘C’ level leadership. A strong and unwavering commitment will help to overcome resistance to change. Patience in the process will ensure the final conclusion isn’t compromised.

Be ready for resistance

 Top-level endorsement engenders engagement in a process that will lead to change - and there is always resistance to change. One of the most common challenges is overcoming the ‘Not invented here’ syndrome. ‘It’s been tried and didn’t succeed’, ‘Things are different here’ or ‘You don’t understand us’ are the classic symptoms. Each concludes that a strategy not invented ‘here’ will not work ‘here’. When mergers and acquisitions are at play these reactions are often amplified.

There tends to be an emotional investment and allegiance to brands, which must be recognized. Legacies and differences need to be embraced and incorporated into dialogue about the offering, benefits and values in the new brand strategy.

Break down the boundaries

The best way to overcome resistance is through inclusion. That’s why it’s a cornerstone of our BAM process. Brand strategy development works best in cross-functional teams, with participants recruited from right across an organization.

It’s particularly important in global branding to span all locations, business units, job functions and so on. Including a diverse mix of people enables everyone to bring their own unique perspective. This doesn’t just help to form the bigger picture. It breaks down barriers that can divide an organisation and promotes unanimity.

Engage a definitive process 

 Inclusion can only deliver effective results as part of a systematic process. The brand development team must harness the perspectives of participants and gain 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 everyone concerned. ‘Ambassadors’ from the development team can help introduce the brand to internal audiences before it is expressed externally. With every employee living the brand, keeping its promise becomes second nature.

Objective evaluation enables rational decisions

 The greatest strength of the BAM model is its ability to help organizations make sound decisions about their brand. It’s a process that helps diffuse emotion, leading to objective evaluation.

The goal is to demystify branding, make it understandable and accessible. Achieve this and you can tap into the greatest asset of any organization - its people. BAM leads them through an exploration of various scenarios, ultimately distilling many points of view into a collective conclusion. This conclusion is the best possible definition of what a brand needs to be to help an organization succeed.

Rodger Jones

Strategic Planning Director

IAS b2b Marketing