Businesses the world over are taking a more consensus-driven approach to corporate branding, leading to brands being built from the bottom up, according to research conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by information management firm SDL.
The report, entitled 'Guarding the Brand', was based on a survey of 145 senior executives, and found that very few businesses still rely on the more traditional centrally-controlled approach to branding. But that's not to say that brand control has gone forever: 60% of respondents said that, once the branding strategy was agreed, it was centrally managed with a consistent global implementation.
Localised brand development
One in five (20%) agreed that they had a strong global brand that could be regionally adapted to meet local needs. But only 10% of respondents said that they used local branding in each market, or at least heavily tailored their global branding to suit regional needs.
As a rule, once agreed, brand values and guidelines were exhaustively documented and communicated across the company. This covered every action that forms part of the customer experience (such as logo colours, call centre scripts, and even writing styles).
Bottom-up brand building
But rather than being imposed by head office, brands are now more generally being driven from the bottom up, involving every department in the business including the people who are closest to customers.
According to report editor, James Watson, "This is essential for developing an effective global information strategy, allowing a global brand to be implemented with a local flavour, influenced by the staff on the ground in that region."
Indeed, the survey results suggest that branding is becoming less rigid and that few companies are interested in the colonial approach to brand control. Dr Chris Boorman, chief marketing officer for SDL, believes that the challenge for most multi-national organisations is to achieve the right balance between a global brand and content tailored for the local market.