As a startup or an SMB, the issues of “centralized” branding and global marketing are not even on the radar.  But, as Global Marketing, The Myndset Brand Strategy and Digital Marketingcompanies get bigger, the natural tendency is to centralize the global marketing function.   Whether it is L’Oreal, Procter & Gamble, Chanel, Samsung or Apple (i.e European, Asian or USA), all multinationals will create a Global Marketing team whose responsibility is to create and control the brand image and product development.  This regrouping is done in order to guarantee consistency and optimize the expertise.  That all makes sense, so far…

The issues with global marketing

Headquarters then typically starts down a slippery path:

  • time to market for the delivery of the image, product and accompanying materials slows down
  • there is a constant one-way request (upload) of country data (with very rare returns to the country)
  • HQ spends considerable time verifying and monitoring country activity without truly understanding the local context
  • unless great care is taken, the majority of the “global marketers” in headquarters come from the resident country, making globalization potentially limited in international appeal, or worse chauvinistic.

Execution is Strategic

The real issue with global marketing, as it is often practiced, is that we need to get better at execution at a local level.  Whether this is adapting product to the local needs, finding the right distribution strategy, creating a social media strategy or, finally, making the brand be lived de facto by the employees throughout the organization, global marketing strategy has a tendency to falter in execution.  And, as I have long believed, execution is strategic; it is not just a sub-component of a brand.

Global Marketing – Troubles distinguishing the Brand Identity

Hand picked Branding, The Myndset Brand Strategy and Digital MarketingThe second big issue with global marketing teams, based in HQ, is that the brands are more often than not composed of the same people rotating through the brands.  In large multi-brand organizations, where global marketing functions are centralized and located in the same city, it is only natural that the “experts” in global marketing be promoted to work on other brands in the same function (with a higher title, naturally).  The problem there is the ability for the brand personality to be appropriately incarnated by that individual who, previously, had to represent another brand.  If the overseeing corporate culture and structure as well as the HR policies and systems are too dominant, the separate brand’s identity is inevitably diluted because the individuals who are supposed most to understand and advocate on behalf of the brand are, for all intents and purposes, “shared services.”

The Singular Corporate and Brand Identity

Bien sûr, there are good counter examples, but these are typically going to be brands whose mother ship is also the singular commercial brand (Apple, Samsung, IBM come to mind).  For the others, I would argue that, with today’s consumer needs and wants and in this new media world, global marketing — as it has been traditionally configured — needs to be completely reconfigured.

Global Marketing should go more Digital…fast!

One of the greatest opportunities for global marketing teams is to use digital to get closer to the countries (i.e. online research at a local level for product development or enhancement, validation of images or slogans, internal communications, etc.) and to be faster to market.  In a world of big data, nothing could be more strategic than effective consumer data collection and, thanks to digital, that can now be had at a fraction of the cost and with greater speed.  {Click to tweet if you agree!}.

Moreover, by enabling a more fluid and open digital communication within the company throughout the subsidiary marketing teams, there are ways to ignite new cycles of innovation.  I firmly believe that the mobilization of global marketing teams around digital is one of the keys to breaking the myth of global marketing!  Your thoughts, please?

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