Global brand management (GBM) is, as the name suggests, the analysis, planning, creation and organization of your brand management at a global level. Why is global brand management so important when every country could shape its own local brand management as called for in the particular country? Well, what happens when a country plans something that affects another country or the central strategy, or something occurs that could possibly affect the brand locally? In such an event, the brand management should be marshaled. Content, timing and framework should be set up free of contradictions in order to leverage commonalities and avoid cross talk and unintended messaging.
Consistent brand imagery can only arise when all brand management’s tools are systematically planned and implemented globally. Consistency includes:
- Content: global brand messaging must be consistent and free of contradiction. Consistency doesn’t mean that every country uses the same messaging. Rather that the brand manager possesses the general messaging overview in order to ensure there are no contradictions.
- Form: which design guidelines are international? This includes extant formal trademarks such as name and logo.
- Timing: program timing should be coordinated so that one country doesn’t implement a tactic that another country is waiting on for better timing.
- Instrumental: which programs do countries implement internationally? Do they complement one another?
- Objective: are country-specific launches and one-offs coordinated with one another?
- Partnership: is GBM coordinated with external business partners like vendors, dealers, retailers, etc?
- Personnel: all stakeholder decisions and behavior stem from a common understanding of GBM.
The coordination of global brand management ensures that all stakeholders are able to adequately exchange ideas and communicate – interdisciplinary teams, project management and networks play a major role here. Fitting processes are ones which engender purposeful coordination and measurement and which strengthen overall collaboration.
What Are The Organizational Requirements?
Expert global brand management is tied to requirements: they concern the involved personnel, roles, responsibilities, processes, structures, the appointed information technology as well as the culture of the communications.
Brand managers are crucial because they communicate globally with consumers and other relevant parties. The following considerations are especially noteworthy:
- Number: determines GBM’s capacity. A single person plays this role in many mid-sized companies. That individual will not professionally fulfill demands, however, if s/he does not receive constant external support, for example from a consultant or agency.
- Training: are the in-country brand managers experienced professionals or newcomers to the field? In the case of the newcomer, how does one make certain that employees work up to trained, professional standards and aren’t overwhelmed?
- Continuing Education: how do brand managers further develop their capabilities, skills and proficiencies? Future expectations include digital brand management knowledge as well as language and culture skills.
- Professional expertise: foundations in communication, but in addition the adequate business acumen to evaluate the overarching context of communications and their corporate added value.
- Methodological expertise: interdisciplinary thinking, strategic thinking, task-oriented.
- Social expertise: the ability to communicate in and among the many internal and external communication partners, solid ability in team building. A consultant can provide proficiency in these skills.
Roles And Responsibilities:
GBM positions of responsibility must be established and the roles and responsibilities must be clarified. This doesn’t happen carefully enough in most companies which leads to confusion about who at headquarters and who in-country is responsible for what. That’s why the key roles and qualifications of decision makers should be defined up front, clearly demarcated, communicated internally and solidly established. It’s important that there is a GBM contact person for countries, topics and resources, and that that person is known.
GBM helps achieve the goal of internationalization and thereby the goals of the company. The first question is where is GBM’s home? In sales? In marketing? Is a director responsible for GBM? Experience bears out that GBM should be a defined role within the corporate leadership. And consider structurally that national marketing managers are mostly organized in networks (global brand networks). The network structures vary depending on company, situation and sector.
Processes secure cooperation. Processes are chains of action with a defined result. Suitable processes enable targeted communication, coordination and measurement and strengthen the overall collaborative effort. They are needed in order that those responsible in each country can agree on common messaging and execute appropriately. Included are processes of information, communication and approval. Standard operating procedure (SOP) is written precedent of processes which occur again and again, for example, for crisis communication, for production and distribution to the press and for current internet postings. Processes are thusly binding and for everyone to see. Established process is especially essential for crisis communication which, for example, clarifies who informs whom in what order and how approvals are acquired. SOPs establish who is involved, who informs whom and in what order and how long individual team members have to give input on changes.
Suitable IT plays an ever more substantial role. IT supports global brand management via adequate hardware (computer, printer, scanner, etc.) and software (text editing, graphics programs, mail databases, etc.) It networks those involved with GBM internally and as well as with agencies. Team members are able to archive and evaluate campaigns with international relevance in order that they and others always have access. Team members can make use of important information from shared databases. Is a common address book useful? A central task overview? A central project calendar? An idea pool?
Global brand management demands buy-in from all the brand managers in concerned countries in order that clear brand imagery can be achieved with consumers. For this to happen, the uses of all the instruments must be systematically planned and precisely executed.
A guiding principle: because of the many differences among countries, global brand management is extremely differentiated. Synergies arise in no small degree from the alignment of such differences along the path to the sought after brand image.