We specialise in serving headquarters of global brands, helping them cut complexity costs in strategy execution across markets and fulfil their corporate role as scale economisers and advantage accelerators. Leverage our consulting expertise, technology solutions and remote talent resources to create organisational simplicity, scalability and efficiency in multi-market operations.
Transforming global brand marketing, creative and eCommerce operations into a competitive advantage
(EMEA) 14 markets
(EMEA) 47 markets
(EMEA) 17 markets
Rise of Global Corporates, Global Brands and Global Consumer Culture
During the twentieth century, large diversified corporations emerged as the most powerful players in economic affairs. Today, such corporations account for up to 60 per cent of output in advanced developed countries. Expansion of the market footprint to global markets, gave rise to global brands - brands whose positioning, advertising strategy, personality, look and feel are in most respects the same from one country to another. As firms expanded their international activities, their standardized approach to branding led to international and eventually to what is now called global branding and global brands. Brands that have successfully extended their equity on a global basis tend to be those built on a brand idea that appeals to some universal human need or desire. Consumers choose global brands because they signal quality, uphold global myth based on shared and universal values and exercise corporate social responsibility. A true brand represents a consistent set of associations and attributes that are recognizable to a relevant target audience of sufficient size and quality to sustain a viable, growing business. A global brand must do this on a macro scale, delivering a reliable core promise while remaining relevant to diverse audiences. A global brand should aspire to be as consistent as possible within the constraints of local market conditions and culture so the key to global brand success would be to win at the local level while realising the advantages offered by global scale.
Like entertainment stars, sports celebrities, and politicians, global brands have become a lingua franca for consumers all over the world.
Globalization processes have also given rise to a new cultural force, the global consumer culture (GCC). Media flows, increased travel, rising incomes and other factors are creating widely understood symbols and meanings reflected in global brands, which in turn communicate membership in the global consumer community and culture. Global brands are regarded as symbols of cultural ideals and they not only compete in providing the highest quality but also in delivering cultural myths with global appeal. Like entertainment stars, sports celebrities, and politicians, global brands have become a lingua franca for consumers all over the world.
Managing Brands Across Time and Geographies, Global Brand Strategy and The Role of Global Brand Management
Environments in which brands exists - consumers and their habits, perceptions, values and mindsets are never idle. They are in continuous and perpetual change. Some are controlled such as changes imposed by marketing programs of brands themselves, which transform the consumer brand knowledge in certain, desired directions. Others are completely outside of brand managers/directors control as they are induced by external environment - other market players, competitors but also non-competitors which influence (our) consumers and (our) brand knowledge and expectations. One rule for modern branding is that brands can never stand still. Brands must constantly be moving and desirably moving forward. Looking at the element of time and managing brands over time, the main source of challenge is the pace of change. Maintaining consistency, while staying relevant in changing times is THE challenge for managing brands over time. Only bigger challenge than managing brands over time would be managing them, as well, over geographic boundaries and market segments.
Global branding execution as a highly complex organisational endeavour which brings together countries, vendors and partners working as virtual teams that span both geographical and time zones in intense time sensitive coordination and communication tasks and interactions
Global brand as a marketing strategy is built around the idea of creation of a single global strategy that can be replicated in local markets. One story that can be literally and figuratively translated in multiple languages so that it will resonate and engage consumers around the globe. As it is based on a single global creative that needs to be replicated across markets, global brand campaign execution is a geographically dispersed organisational activity whose success requires brilliant implementation of materials conforming to established brand guidelines. Global branding execution as a highly complex organisational endeavour which brings together countries, vendors and partners working as virtual teams that span both geographical and time zones in intense time sensitive coordination and communication tasks and interactions.
As they transcend geographies and cultures, management of global brands needs to ensure continuity of both global and local relevance. It is the role of global brand management and global brand function to leverage organizational structures, processes, and corporate culture to allocate brand-building resources globally and create global synergies. Often headquarter based global brand management function is responsible for concept and execution of strategy implementation which coordinates and leverages country brand strategies
It is the role of global brand management and global brand function to leverage organizational structures, processes, and corporate culture to allocate brand-building resources globally and create global synergies
The need to be both local and global, gave birth to a new "glocalization" approach - keeping a consistent execution across multiple countries, while maintaining a local flavour in its message in each market.
Global Brand Execution : Glittery on the Outside, Rusty on the Inside
Due to digital, things are now changing faster than ever in the marketing or brand's environment and dimensions of change became not two or three, but multi-dimensional or betters said simply - digital. Global brands, mostly due to their considerable global budgets, for the most part managed to maintain the outside perception of being aligned with new market developments and transformational changes in the market. Swarming around consumer facing market trendy technological innovations pushed by the ecosystem of marketing technology vendors and rooster agencies, most of global brands have implemented high visibility, but very limited truly organisation transformational potential digital solutions. Flood of beautifully of branded websites, mobile apps, AI chatbots gave a 'digital-first' mask to internally deeply 'analog' and 'physical-first' global organizations.
Flood of beautifully of branded websites, mobile apps, AI chatbots gave a 'digital-first' mask to internally deeply 'analog' and 'physical-first' global organizations.
While on surface global brands might be using social media outlets and AI powered chatbots, on the inside they're struggling with flooded email inboxes, excel sheets, and misaligned file and software versions installed throughout the corporation. Global branding function is no exception to this. If not slightly even worse off due to its non-process and highly people dependent nature which has historically perpetuated the myth of 'art & science' to avoid standardisation and subsequent optimization intrinsic to the needs of global corporate organisations.
Iceberg : Digitisation of the brand has been only on the consumer facing surface
Unlike in other highly standardised functions such as supply chain or finance, where methodologies and execution steps are institutionalized within corporate processes and enforced through software solutions, global branding know-how exists only in the form of heuristics - tacit knowledge of selected individuals. While tacitness of global branding know-how is nominally beneficial for global brand professionals, as it forms the foundation of their employee bargaining power - being sold as an expertise to their corporate employers, within matrix based global organisation it can also become both a career advancement and work-life balance inhibitor.
Strategy execution between headquarters and countries or global strategy and local implementation is out-of-tune.
Surprisingly, even in biggest global brand organisation, global branding function isn't systematically digitally and process enabled, especially not across all organisational levels (global - region - country -retailer). So more often than not, strategy execution between headquarters and countries or global strategy and local implementation is out-of-tune. This misalignment becomes especially obvious during campaign execution and product launch brand campaign support.
It is across these, deadline determined and intensive downstream and upstream campaign information and brand assets flows between headquarters and countries, and within individual organisational levels, where the the matrix complexity takes its toll from an already 'weak', non-process driven and non- tailored technology supported, brand function's global operating model.
Highly paid professionals are trapped in email micro-management of tasks instead of value adding strategic brand building activations.
Results are hundreds of thousands wasted hours in misalignments between organisational levels (Global - EMEA - Country - Retailers) that take shape of continuous email chains of disconnected information, asset chases and late nights at office. Misalignments also often lead to last minute launches which create additional costs and overtime charges by agencies. Aside of waste of time, energy, process data (insights) and money, significant opportunity costs arise due to the fact that highly paid professionals are trapped in email micro-management of tasks instead of value adding strategic brand building activations.
Biggest challenge of a global brand function is an organisational and executional alignment : the ability of a company to devise organizational processes suited to global markets, to adapt internal systems to the global agenda, and to effectively manage the relationship between headquarters and local business units. The HQ based global brand team needs to effectively support the global agenda, provide leverage, exploit global scale, and impose strong governance. At the same time, it needs to leave room for adaptability, nimbleness, speed, and authority in local markets.
Biggest challenge of a global brand function is an organisational and executional alignment
Execution will have an ever-greater impact on the performance of business abroad as companies run into highly competitive local companies. Small and midsize local companies are less complex and place a greater focus on executional excellence. They are agile, efficient, and responsive to local customers. They are able to win against global companies that are several times their size and have more sophisticated technological skills.
Results are hundreds of thousands wasted hours in misalignments between organisational levels (Global - EMEA - Country - Retailers) that take shape of continuous email chains of disconnected information, asset chases and late nights at office.
A Look Under The Hood of Global Branding Function : Waste of Time, Process Data and Money
Global organisations that mostly are the owners and creators of global brands, in the process of 'going global' have became so complex that, their organisational structure itself creates complexity costs in term of time lost, loss of agility and speed. So, paradoxically, even though idea behind was cost saving, global brand management and global branding is (excessive) cost producing. Global brand campaign execution architecture stemming from notoriously non-process driven brand function nestled within a complex matrix organisation is often a source of colossal waste of time, money, data and missed opportunities.
In case of global brand function, global brand professionals - specialists, managers, directors, not only experience these costs every day, but also are the ones that incur these costs.
Complexity costs of global organisations are greater within functions that haven't been supported by tailored technology solutions and haven't been process-enabled. As global brand function is notoriously non-process driven and as global branding know-how is mostly tacit knowledge living in the heads of professionals and not an organisation institutionalized within process captured knowhow, the effects of complexity and costs are even higher. In case of global brand function, global brand professionals - specialists, managers, directors, not only experience these costs every day, but also are the ones that incur these costs.
Email as a global 'branding software' : waste of time, process data and money
Process driven digital enablement of branding seems to have bypassed even biggest and very brand driven organisations. Digital evolution seems to have happened only up to the level of DAM solutions - which are basically just digital warehouses for storage of assets. However, operations which involve actual steps of branding, workflows, and especially top-level ones - between geographically dispersed organisational levels which work as virtual teams in global campaign execution, still rely on email as a 'branding software'. That is why, for most if not all global brand organisations - most ubiquitous 'branding software' is 'Microsoft Outlook' inbox.
The only way to reverse this is to look at the end-to-end global branding function, pinpoint misalignments, and implement scalable solutions that will connect all stakeholders in a streamlined execution free of complexity costs, while optimizing the global operating model.
Driving Global Brand Excellence From the Inside Out
SO DIGITAL provides global brands with both technology solutions and scalable talent resources that help global brands and their headquarters achieve economies of scale and scope and reduce organisational complexity costs in global branding. Our solutions create organisational simplicity and deliver speed & efficiency in execution across markets by standardising and codifying branding operations. We establish clear roles and responsibilities and translate it to platform interface in shape of user levels. We secure process implementation by defining chain of actions with defined goals to be completed by each user level within a predefined time frames and other user action dependencies.
Instead of being buried in endless chain of emails, brand professionals are able to perform all of their campaign execution related tasks in connection to other organisational levels within a simple and aesthetically pleasing interface. Platform is organised with a supply chain perspective and vertical and horizontal process visibility - meaning that all participants see the phases and action points that are time and role relevant with progress stage indicators.
Platform collects both process and output data per defined use - meaning that users can define the desired reporting on campaign success and build upon reports with 3rd party tools. Also that there’s an organisational campaign execution performance metric - how fast or how slow does an organisation roll-out a campaign globally.
Given that the physical (assets) and information flows are centralised and shared among participants each organisational level has a visibility of the progress / stage of the campaign which removes excess emailing on alignment issues.
Execution, Not Strategy, Separates Leaders from Laggards. Leverage our platform to create organisational simplicity and deliver speed and efficiency in execution across markets. Align inside to win outside.
Brand management is in itself complex, should your organisational execution increase or decrease this complexity? Simplify global brand operations - use a single point of contact and engagement for all phases of brand campaign execution. Make your day-to-day operations and workflows SO SIMPLE, SO EASY, SO FAST - SO DIGITAL.
Contact us today for a no-commitment walk through of SO DIGITAL platform solutions implemented for clients like Nike EMEA and Uber EMEA.
Anne-Wil Harzing "An Empirical Analysis and Extension of the Bartlett and Ghoshal Typology of Multinational Companies."
Dr. Michael Bloom and Michael Grant The Conference Board of Canada: "Valuing Headquarters (HQs): Analysis of the Role, Value and Benefit of HQs in Global Value Chains"
Stanley M. Davis, Paul R. Lawrence, HBR.org : " Problems of Matrix Organizations" https://hbr.org/1978/05/problems-of-matrix-organizations
Liz Gold, Bizfluent.com, Updated December 15, 2018. " What are the 4 Types of Organizational Structures? " https://bizfluent.com/info-8149155-functional-vs-matrix-organization-structure.html
Patrick Gleeson, Ph. D., Chron.com, Updated January 28, 2019 "Advantages & Disadvantages of Matrix Organizational Structures in Business Organizations"
Stuckenbruck, L. C. (1979). The matrix organization. Project Management Quarterly, 10(3), 21–33.
Andrei Perumal, Stephen Wilson "Wilson Perumal & Company, Inc.", Multiple articles on www.wilsonperumal.com, Books : Growth in the Age of Complexity and Waging War on Complexity Costs (McGraw-Hill)
Craig Gorsline : "Leadership in the Age of Complexity" https://www.thoughtworks.com/insights/blog/leadership-age-complexity
Andrew Sheng and Xiao Geng : "The global age of complexity" http://www.ejinsight.com/20170613-the-global-age-of-complexity/
Steenkamp, Jan-Benedict. (2017). Global Brand Management. 10.1057/978-1-349-94994-6_7.