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.
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What is a Paradox?
The term paradox is from the Greek word paradoxon, which means “contrary to expectations, existing belief, or perceived opinion.” A paradox is a statement that, despite apparently valid reasoning from true premises, leads to an apparently-self-contradictory or logically unacceptable conclusion. A paradox involves contradictory-yet-interrelated elements that exist simultaneously and persist over time. Something that shouldn't be there, defying purpose or logic, but there is evidence it is there. Some paradoxes have revealed errors in definitions assumed to be rigorous, and have caused axioms of mathematics and logic to be re-examined. Paradoxes are present almost in every aspect of science and academics, but also just in everyday life. We all know of some, heard of some, and have used some in our daily life, whether to explain something or as a casual joke. Some have become widely famous and embodied into form of novels and movies. "Catch 22 " - type of a paradox of logic, is also a title of one of best American novels written by Joseph Heller. Coincidentally with timing of this article, a title of a new movie to be released in May 2019 on Hulu, starring and produced by George Clooney. "Catch 22" is a term referring to a situation in which someone is in need of something that can only be had by not being in need of it. A soldier who wants to be declared insane to avoid combat is deemed not insane for that very reason and will therefore not be declared insane. A paradox. Another famous one comes from Decision Theory - Prisoner's Dilemma. Two people might not cooperate even if it is in both their best interests to do so. There are of course many other, less famous as they either apply to a specific branch of science such as biology, chemistry, economics or philosophy, and as such are only known to people from those specific fields. Sometimes paradoxes also remain unknown if their impact isn't as pervasive - it confined to a small number of cases or in general doesn't produce a major impact.
Even though global brand professionals feel it's adverse or contradictory effects, majority aren't aware of it.
Global brands as organisations, global brand as a company function, and global branding as a phase of global brand campaign execution also face a paradox. This one, however, even thought is experienced and felt by brand professionals who work in global organisations which follow global brand as a marketing strategy, as such remains unknown to many. Even though global brand professionals feel it's adverse or contradictory effects, majority aren't aware of it.
"Going Global ": Global Brands and Global Branding Benefits
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. In the 1980s, it was primarily global hope-to-be’s who were beginning to stake ground for the future while struggling to figure out how to actually get there. Cool start-ups and aggressively reinvented brands in fashion, technology, and transportation–Nike, Microsoft, Sony, Apple, British Airways, Honda–began to push frontiers and establish brand reputations far in excess of their actual market footprint.
Global brands as organisations, global brand as a company function, and global branding as a phase of global brand campaign execution also face a paradox.
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. 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. As firms expand their international activities, their standardized approach to branding led to international and eventually to what is now called global branding and global brands.
Expansion of the market footprint to global markets, gave rise to global brands
The common approach that firms which sought to “go global” did is to extend their domestic marketing strategies to international market. In other words they pursued the standardized approach of branding. This is what led to creation of global brands whose positioning, advertising strategy, personality, look, and feel are in most respects the same from one country to another. Global brands give companies competitive advantages such as: 1) economies of scale in production and distribution 2) lower marketing costs 3) power and scope 4) consistency in brand image 5) ability to leverage ideas quickly and efficiently 6) uniformity of marketing practices. For example, it costs IBM much less to create a single global advertising campaign than it would to create separate campaigns for dozens of markets.
The common approach that firms which sought to “go global” did is to extend their domestic marketing strategies to international market.
Creating a global branding enables a company communicate consistent messages to customers in all its international markets. Consumers now receive marketing messages from a huge number of different sources, so delivering a consistent message is the most effective way to reach consumers. A global company can reduce the risk in developing a global campaign by building on branding strategies that deliver successful results in domestic market. Building an existing brand progressively, market by market, is the safest and most cost-effective way to create a global brand.
Consumers now receive marketing messages from a huge number of different sources, so delivering a consistent message is the most effective way to reach consumers
Running a consistent global branding reduces the cost and complexity of managing campaigns. Some multinational companies employ different advertising and marketing agencies for each territory. If each agency creates a different campaign for the local market, costs can rise rapidly because of the duplication of effort. By developing a single global branding and advertising strategy, you can reduce the number of agencies you use and eliminate duplicate cost. Global brand management entails using organizational structures, processes, and cultures to allocate brand-building resources globally, to create global synergies, and to develop a global brand strategy that coordinates and leverages country brand strategies.
Idea behind a consistent global brand and branding is that it reduces the cost and complexity of managing campaigns
Global Brand Management, Global Campaign Execution and Global Brand Paradox
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. Global brand management requires intense coordination among countries and the headquarters so that a clear image of the company and its offerings develop – the big picture.
Managing a global brand created its own, newly created, and previously unknown costs - complexity costs of global organisations.
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. To execute global brand strategies in local markets within a common framework and to reach economies of scale and scope in communication, production of materials, campaign management and execution, many standardize their branding operations.
Global brand paradox— (in)ability to maintain brand consistency and capture economies of scale & scope across borders while leveraging lessons of shared knowledge, without letting complexity get in the way of speed and agility of execution.
However, benefits of global branding such as communication effectiveness through consistency and risk reduction through scaling individual market successes across multiple countries can be offset by complexity costs of organisational structure and its misalignments. In this case, intended lower marketing cost of running a global brand are annulled by higher management costs of underlying organisational design of a global organisation. This is called "Global Brand Paradox"— (in)ability to maintain brand consistency and capture economies of scale & scope across borders while leveraging lessons of shared knowledge, without letting complexity get in the way of speed and agility of execution.
So, even though the global brand as a strategy is built on the idea of reaping benefits of economies of scale and scope, what happens is that, not only these benefits can be offset by complexity costs of global organisation, but the also additional costs of loss of speed and agility when it comes to market responses. What happens is that even though global organisations initially reap benefits from global branding approach in terms of global reach and cost production saving, because in the process of going global they became so big and so complex, that managing a global brand created it's own, newly created, and previously unknown costs - complexity costs of global organisations.
The complexity cost of global brand as a marketing strategy is nowhere more evident than in the matrix global organisation that follows a centralised, headquarter leading, global-to-local, (digital) brand campaign execution.
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.
Branding operations in global organisations that implement global brand as a marketing strategy are an example of a global value chain - geographically dispersed corporate value adding process. 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 campaign 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. This in turn requires multiple, upstream and downstream communication, information and asset flows between headquarters, countries, vendors, all within a time-limited campaigns lifecycle.
A particular interplay between (1) global brand as a marketing strategy, (2) global-to-local execution, (3) global organisation with a (4) matrix organisational model, and (5) technology unsupported brand function global operating model, creates a 'perfect storm', exacerbating and bringing to surface negative externalities of underlying elements, that make the global brand campaign execution architecture that is designed for waste.
Technology unsupported brand function in matrix global organisation produces waste of time, data, money and opportunities
Global branding execution as a process is a complex system where geometrically rising number interactions between elements and participants create exponentially rising complexity costs. (In)visible results of organisation induced complexity 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.
Global Brand(ing) Paradox : Time, Data, and Money Wasters in Global Organisation
So, paradoxically, even though idea behind was cost saving, global brand management and global branding is (excessive) cost producing.
One of the major drivers behind the idea of creation of global brands and global branding was costs saving or efficiency gains. Developing a single creative, then replicating the same, with minor adjustments for cultural and language differences across countries, not only costs less but yield better communication results from perspective of consistency and association creation in minds of consumers. Within a global society, where content is shared in seconds from one part of the globe to another, and where people spend winters in one part of the world and summers in another, global brands are a necessity. However, 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.
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. The way brand professionals incur these costs are days and days spent with flooded inboxes, assets chases and overtime - late nights spent at the office, instead of with their friends and families. Process secure cooperation. When there are no processes and no process enabled global execution there is chaos. Inbox chaos, unproductive meeting chaos and personal life chaos (suffering from the business life chaos).
For most if not all global brand organisations - most ubiquitous 'branding software' is 'Microsoft Outlook' inbox.
Process driven digital enablement of global branding seems to have bypassed even biggest and very brand driven global 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.
Process driven digital enablement of global branding seems to have bypassed even biggest and very brand driven global organisations
With exponentially rising number of digital touchpoints, business process management technology unsupported global branding function and global brand campaign execution means only one thing : email chaos, asset chases, late nights at the office and overburdened brand mangers and brand directors. The Rise of Digital Brand Touchpoints has only begun, so acting sooner than later, will mean more free time, less stress and brand growth.
SO DIGITAL - Simplifying Global Branding Execution
To avoid the "global brand paradox" which translates to countless hours of waste in misaligned activities taking form of endless email chains, endless chases of digital assets and continuous organisational executional ambiguity of global branding, global organisation need to both perceive and manage global branding through the lens of supply chain management - look at branding as physical and information flows between headquarters and countries, vendors and partners. The waste of time, in age of digital properties, where We All Compete on Digital Customer Journeys game that requires continuous "feeding of feed" supply of brand content, translates directly to wasted market opportunities. It because of this that we at SO DIGITAL look at global branding and branding operations as a supply chain management challenge and create solutions and services with this perspective in place.
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. In this way, global brand organisations are able to reduce the complexity costs of global branding paradox, while global brand professionals are able to take back their scarcest resource : time. Spend it with friends and family instead in email chains and asset chases.
Global brand professionals are able to take back their scarcest resource : time. Spend it with friends and family instead in email chains and asset chases.
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.
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