Elements of a Successful Global Branding Strategy
The successful global brand strategy is relevant and responsive to all audiences (by type, channel, and geo). The strategy enables the creation and use of targeted tools that speak to each audience’s needs and priorities. While a key goal of any strategy is the creation of a consistent impression, the successful strategy adopts an agile approach to achieving that impression.
The successful global brand strategy is easy to implement and manage. The successful strategy builds on a detailed understanding of the resources available to enable it. Where resources are few, the strategy may allow for the use of simpler tools and guidelines. Where they are many, the strategy many involve additional resources and build on greater complexity. The successful strategy also seeks to build effective channels of two-way communication between those who implement and those who manage.
The successful global brand strategy is flexible and adaptable. Changes in technology, society or the marketplace, which can be sweeping and sudden, mitigate against any brand strategy that aspires to be future-proof. Successful strategies acknowledge and accommodate this understanding. They include mechanisms for eliciting feedback, and procedures for acting decisively on this feedback. Fundamentally, of course, brand strategy serves business strategy. As business strategy changes, the brand strategy must change with it.
The successful global brand strategy leverages local resources. Strategies that adopt a center- outwards only approach may forfeit efficiencies and economies, to say nothing of goodwill, which can be achieved by developing creative and strategic resources with specific local understanding and experience. From our perspective, this does not necessarily mean interfacing with the global monoculture of a worldwide consultancy, but the cultivation, over time, of authentic, independent, locally based resources that can bring true richness and nuance to the brand’s expression.
The successful global brand strategy can be measured. The strategy is built upon a baseline understanding of audience perceptions as well as the extent and nature of communications to date, and routinely measured against this baseline once it has been put into place.
The successful global brand strategy engages its internal audiences and involves the explicit endorsement of its leadership. To achieve its best results, the strategy must make sense to its internal audiences. While not charged with the specific task of communicating the brand on a daily basis, internal audiences must believe in the brand, and feel a personal stake in its success. When they do so, they help to ensure that the audience’s experience of the brand is as consistent and rewarding as possible across every point of contact. The strongest brands have the potential to unify organizations, and to mobilize them.
Areas in Which Corporate Branding will enhance Marketing and Communications Activities:
Corporate branding stands to bring many levels of enhancement, some general, others specific. Most directly, a strong corporate branding initiative delivers real, measurable ROI to the marketing and communications effort. This ROI takes the form of (1) cost savings realized from the re-use of brand assets and from their cost-efficient deployment across communications; (2) time savings through expediting the creative process, providing a clear framework for decision-making; creative throughput; (3) organizational efficiency through expediting training, shortening the learning curve for developing brand-appropriate communications, facilitating brand management, and enabling increased creative throughput; and (4) accountability, by providing a basis for tracking and benchmarking the effectiveness of the brand’s communications.
While direct and tangible, this benefit of corporate branding is in some regards the “small win”. With respect to marketing and communications activities, here is the bigger win:
A general understanding of the broader benefits to the company’s marketing and communications activities stems from a clear understanding of a brand’s fundamental nature and purpose: a brand is a story told in the marketplace. In telling its story in the clearest, most consistent and compelling manner (via the brand strategy), A company stands to enhance its ability to market and communicate by strengthening its connection with its audiences. While often under-utilized, the benefits of building a strong audience connection should not be under-estimated. When audiences are engaged, they are quicker and more vocal in letting the company know when the brand — the story — is and is not working for them. A successful brand strategy builds strong channels for fostering this kind of ongoing dialog. Of course, the benefits of an engaged audience also go beyond the enhanced ability to build more refined and responsive communications, up to and including fundamentally influencing the company’s product design, product strategy, and delivery of services.