Worth a read
My favorite read lately is A New Brand World by Scott Bedbury. He talks about the importance of good brand stewards (“Brand Parents” as he calls them), but also the problem that commonly afflicts global companies: too many brand parents. He describes a scenario of a child raised by twenty different people with conflicting values, backgrounds, skills and agendas. Likening this to a brand with multiple product managers and marketing chiefs, each with a separate objective, it is easy to see how brands become diluted and even paralyzed from within. This applies globally if too many cultural shifts or regional marketing designees try to put too much of their own spin on the company’s message. Rather than resulting in appropriately customized cultural marketing, this often results in brand “schizophrenia” as Bedbury puts it.
Harvard Business Review wrote an interesting piece comparing Toyota (pre-acceleration pedal issues!) with Ford in terms of their success at global branding. Whereas Ford for decades adapted its manufacturing processes from country to country (adding layers and costs onto its cars), Toyota standardized across the globe and sold its cars under a single brand umbrella…with great success.
Harvard Business Review identifies five characteristics shared by all top global brands:
1. The same positioning worldwide. This provides a combination of functional product quality and innovation with emotional appeal. Think Coca-Cola and Disney.
2. A focus on a single product category. Think Nokia and Intel.
3. The company name is the brand name. All marketing dollars are concentrated on that one brand. Think GE and IBM.
4. Access to the global village. Consuming the brand equals membership in a global club. Think IBM’s “solutions for a small planet.”
5. Social responsibility. Consumers expect global brands to lead on corporate social responsibility, leveraging their technology to solve the world’s problems. Think Nestle and clean water.