You know your brand identity is more than your logo… more than your corporate color palette… more than your style guide. Your brand identity is the fundamental way you differentiate yourself from your competition on the shelf, online, and in the media. It impacts the consumer experience at every touchpoint on the path from product discovery to product purchase – affecting consumer perceptions of your value, trustworthiness, and health.
Some brands have managed to elevate their brand identity to an art: Apple. New brands have used brand identity as their calling card: Virgin. And as companies increasingly view the entire world as their retail playground, they envy these brands for their positioning strategy, advertising strategy, personality, look, and feel that for the most part seem the same from one country to another.
Yet who can blame them for their envy? There are economies of scale to be had. It costs much less to implement one global advertising campaign than it does to implement separate campaigns for each market – and fewer resources are necessary when you’re managing a single strategy.
But all is not as it seems.
Creating a brand strategy with meaningful impact in one country is hard enough. Replicating it across multiple countries is almost impossible. For starters, cultural differences and language barriers exist. Then consider the fact that brand images differ. For example, did you know that while Honda represents quality in the U.S., it’s known for speed in Japan? And colors can have different significance across border lines. Americans often associate the color red with danger, or love and passion. But travel to China, and the color red is associated with good fortune, celebration and happiness.
So stop looking at Apple and Virgin with longing! There’s real value to be had in taking a localized approach to your branding strategy. The question becomes: once you’ve established a global brand strategy that leverages country-specific differentiators, how are you going to protect it? States authors David Aaker and Erich Joachimsthaler in the Harvard Business Review, “Global brand leadership means 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.” And in interviews with 35 brand executives, they uncovered several keys to success, one of which resonates with our own Label and Artwork Management clients:
Share best practices across countries.
Interviewees in Aaker and Joachimsthaler’s study commonly cited a company-wide communication system as the foundation for global brand leadership. While corporate can develop policies that dictate which aspects of the brand strategy must be followed everywhere and which ones are up to country management, these policies must be easily accessible to all team members worldwide.
In other words, “People and procedures must come together to create a rich base of knowledge that is relevant and easy to access.”
A Label and Artwork Management solution with a Digital Asset Manager can meet these needs by instilling better global control over the brand strategy process and providing visibility over all global brand assets – from design to distribution and archiving, including approval tracking and rights management. And a critical advantage of a Digital Asset Manager is that local managers can see which assets already exist, giving them the potential to re-use existing material, rather than undertake new content or artwork initiatives.
A Digital Asset Manager also helps with risk mitigation. For example, when the digital rights management information associated with any asset ‘travels’ with the content, misuse is prevented. A Digital Asset Manager also protects the brand itself, ensuring corporate guidelines for values and visual integrity are retained, regardless of application or location.
Brand identity is what differentiates your company from your competitors in the marketplace.
And like any good steward, your job is to create and protect this global brand identity while also making it relevant in local markets. When you’re successful, you give yourself the opportunity to scale, and in turn invest time, energy, and resources into new R&D to anticipate and meet the changing needs of your consumers.
To learn more about how technology can streamline your global branding initiatives, download this article: Your Brand on the Tightrope.