Managing a global brand and bringing it to life at the local level has been historically challenging. A new model for setting a brand strategy then activating it and executing it can help overcome the challenges global brands face.
Three simultaneous forces affect how brands must be managed today: globalization, localization, and personalization. The collision of these three forces presents challenges and opportunities for marketers. This will require changes to the enterprise and mind-set structures as well as changes to the operational systems, policies, and processes used for brands. This means creating and implementing a more meaningful, relevant, systematic, disciplined set of strategies for effective brand building.
Marketing globalization refers to the benefits of cross-geography standardization, reliability, and familiarity. But, to many customers it signifies homogeneity, loss of regional authenticity, and corporate domination. It is comforting to see known logos in shopping malls around the world, but people fear the loss of identity through excessive globalization.
Localization refers to a special sense of place designating local uniqueness, locally sourced, locally crafted, locally owned, regionally authentic, one-of-a-kind, and so on. Localization brings a sense of cultural, ethnic, economic, and social connection. But it can become too forced, cute, involuntary, obligatory, and kitschy. Just think Venice or New York City in Las Vegas.
Personalization, the increasingly significant and growing force refers to individualized, valued experiences specifically designed to meet a person’s physical, psychological, social, and emotional needs. Personalization reinforces respect, status, and positive self-image. The flip side of personalization is the loss of privacy: in order to personalize, brands need to know more and more about you.
The Collaborative Three-Box Model
What is the best way to manage brands when it is essential to be global, local, and personal at the same time? The answer is The Collaborative Three-Box Model.
In 1983, Professor Theodore Levitt published a Harvard Business Review article, “The Globalization of Marketing.” He argued that global brands should have one, standardized, global positioning, and a globally standardized product supported by a standardized, global ad campaign. The central marketing function standardized everything. Dr. Levitt believed standardization through centralization increased cost efficiency. The center was the seat of all brand authority.
This is how globalization came to be synonymous with marketing standardization. This is the “One-Box” Model,” confining the world to one common brand box. Although efficient, the One-Box Model is problematic because it leads to lowest common denominator thinking: acceptable everywhere, and relevant nowhere.
To the credit of marketers, the Two-Box Model made its debut. You might know it as Think global. Act local. This approach is supposed to be the best of both worlds. Unfortunately, the Two-Box Model came to mean (as it does today) “We will do the important thinking in the center while you in the regions will execute our great thinking.” It is a hand-off approach to marketing. The center will hand off the ideas, strategies, and tactics to the regions to activate. This approach worsened tensions between the center and the regions. It also allowed the regions to shift accountability to the center. After all, this is not their idea. It is the center’s idea: the center can take responsibility for its success.
This is a terrible brand situation. Results are not created at the center. Results are created in the local market. Local markets are held accountable for results, but they are not responsible for the strategy to produce those results. Local marketers must be responsible regional thought leaders, not just implementers of ideas from the center’s big thinkers. This does not eliminate the center from certain accountabilities. Certain things are global responsibilities such as the overall global brand vision, global brand alliances, global brand initiatives (nutrition, ecology, etc.), support, education, coordination and sharing of best practices, global market research (tracking, satisfaction).
So, today, the new imperative is shared responsibility: co-creative, cooperative, collaborative, shared responsibilities are transforming how we work. The Collaborative Three-Box Model is based on shared responsibility. However, those responsibilities must be clarified to reflect the realities of global views and the local truths. This means realignment and reassignment of actions and job descriptions.
Global organizational alignment is not easy. It is particularly challenging in a global matrix organization. Matrix management is a multinational reality. People will say that they cannot manage what they cannot control. They will say they cannot manage what does not report to them. Matrix management is difficult. But, the matrix is not the problem. How to manage brands in a matrix management world is the challenge. The answer is The Collaborative Three-Box Model
The Collaborative Three-Box Model
The basic premises of The Collaborative Three-Box Model are:
- Box 1: Create the Vision (responsibility: 80% global/20% local)
- Box 2: Create the Brand Framework (responsibility: 50% global/50% local)
- Box 3: Bring the Brand to Life (responsibility: 20% global/80% local). This is where personalization happens. The local teams know their local customer best.
Brand Leadership Is Global; Brand Management Is Local
Brand Leadership is responsible for inspiration, education, support, influence, and evaluation. Brand Leadership defines the over-arching brand vision as well as the “commonalities” across geographies that give the brand its core meaning. Regional and Local Brand Management are responsible for bringing the brand to life within the brand’s framework including relevant personalization, local differences in products and services, local innovations, local communications, local promotions, local digital implementations, and local retail initiatives. The center must learn how to lead, and the regions must learn how to manage with accountability.
Clarify Roles and Responsibilities
People must know what the center does, what the geographies do, and what they need to do as individuals. Create clear job descriptions and reporting systems. It is important to ensure that the right people are in the right jobs doing the right things in the right way.
Share the Knowledge
Share organizational and brand knowledge. Break down the barriers to sharing knowledge and experience. An organization cannot claim to be part of the “knowledge economy” if it does not share knowledge internally. Knowledge is a corporate asset. Break down knowledge silos. Eliminate knowledge hoarding.
Learn to Love Matrix Management
As complex as it is, matrix management is the best way to achieve effective collaboration to achieve common goals. Matrix management is a business reality. The matrix is designed to array all the interlocking functions into a cohesive, collaborative system that allows for strength in the regions as well as from the center.
– Larry Light is the coauthor with Joan Kiddon of New Brand Leadership: Managing at the Intersection of Globalization, Locatlization, and Personalization (CLICK HERE to get your copy). He is the Chief Executive Officer of Arcature LLC, consultants in brand management. Light was a senior executive and Board member at BBDO and President of the international division of Ted Bates. He was Global CMO of McDonald’s from 2002 to 2005. More recently, Light was the Global Chief Brands Officer of IHG. Joan Kiddon is President and COO of Arcature LLC.
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