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Creating a global brand strategy

News, 20 October 2016

LONDON: Creating an effective global brand strategy is a complex task that requires planners to immerse themselves in the brand, to identify universal human truths, to think long-term and to simplify big ideas.

In a Warc Best Practice paper, entitled "How to develop an effective global brand strategy", Nick Kendall, a former planner and now a builder of brand ideas, suggests that in many respects global planning isn't very different from normal planning – with the process governed by the same three simple strategic questions of what, who and how?

The lessons that need to be learned about global strategy, he argues, are less about tangible differences in how to do strategy and more about some of the intangibles of approach and mindset.

So, for example, planners should travel to different markets to understand them properly, see close up what competitors are doing, as well as talk with and listening to local teams to build a sense of shared objectives.

At the same time, they need to focus on similarities rather than the many differences they encounter – looking for universal human truths rather than simple behaviours/habits/usage occasions.

But the most radical of intangible lessons for the global planner, says Kendall, is that they should essentially reverse the classic planning process. "This may be the most fundamental difference between planning, and global planning," he notes. So, "start with the big brand idea", he adds.

That means abandoning the approach where the business problem is isolated in order to identify the marketing problem in order to identify the communications challenge in order to develop the advertising strategy in order to create the idea.

"Such an approach in a global context would make for bricolage creation and multiple ideas," Kendall says. In other words, fragmentation not unification."

And once in possession of a big idea, then the process of application can become so much easier – "and this is where the importance of the earlier listening comes to the fore".

Forget the "think global, act local" mantra, he adds. Rather than mapping the world by geography and organisational structure, it is more useful to map the world by its relation to the business and brand vision, and the challenges of reaching them. "In other words, 'Think global, act Jobs To Be Done'." 

Kendall also proffers advice on media planning, measurement and the ongoing management of the big idea.

Of the latter, he remarks that there is "a time for focus and a time for flexibility", and that finding the "sweet spot"' requires constant review – of markets, organisational culture and the idea itself.

Data sourced from Warc