Brand building requires marketers to balance short-term acquisition with long-term emotional connection; global brand building adds layers of extra complication, but a framework based on four crucial pillars will assist marketers in managing the task, according to one of the UK’s most experienced marketing leaders.

In a WARC Best Practice paper, Building a global brand, Jan Gooding, who left insurance giant Aviva last December, acknowledges the challenges of building a brand domestically let alone across borders.

“Markets will not only have important cultural differences to take into consideration, but the brand may face very different competition and position in the market,” she notes.

“For example, Aviva was brand leader with a composite offering of Life, General and Health insurance in UK, but a challenger brand in USA and India limited to offering only Life Insurance products.”

She proposes four pillars that create a framework within which global brand building can be managed:

1. Definition: Global brands must be clearly defined and all the elements that make up its identity captured and expressed in a set of brand guidelines.

2. Governance: There must be a process whereby marketing teams can get advice on how to comply with the guidelines and the central team can authorise brand development ideas.

3. Execution: The market CMO should have the freedom, based on local insight and market conditions, to develop their own go-to-market plans.

4. Evaluation: There must be a common understanding on how to evaluate brand equity with established standards in methodology and reporting

“Any approach must describe and insist on adherence to those aspects of the brand which are fundamental to its identity and performance and must therefore be consistent, whilst allowing for the necessary flexibility required to operate in local conditions,” she states.

What is fixed and what is flexible, however, is likely to be a delicate balancing act, especially in a market like insurance which is heavily regulated.

At Aviva, Gooding relates, every policy, whether for general or life insurance, was individually priced, meaning there was no common approach to margin. And with each market overseen by its own country regulator, there was no consistency in terms and conditions.

“These are areas where Aviva could have chosen to have common standards, but it was judged more sensible to allow decisions to be made at a local level,” she explains.

The framework she outlines will also have to take account of and adapt to corporate structures to maximise effectiveness. With separate legal entities in each country to respect the independent financial regulation in those markets, this led to a culture at Aviva that was “highly federated around commercial decision-making and not conducive to the discipline of building a global brand”. 

Sourced from WARC