Going Global: Some Steps for Brand Expansion

So, you’re a domestic brand that has decided to go global, or, a brand with presence in more markets than you know what to do with. Now what?
You can tackle a global marketing and communications campaign in a variety of ways. The key to knowing what’s right for you is to evaluate, clarify and gain alignment on what is meant by “global.” What is the opportunity or problem you’re trying to harness or solve, and how are you going to structure and resource the team and organization to deliver?
The first step is identifying the centralized resources responsible for uncovering a common meaning for the brand and accountable for driving the process internationally. The centralized team should have representation in the key regions that will be implementing the program. This tight collective of people holds the insights and are responsible for the business in key markets. And because a diversity of skill sets builds the most arresting and relevant cultural movement idea for the brand, the team should include marketers, brand planners, communication planners, research partners and business consultants.
Make sure that the roles are clear throughout the process. Everyone involved must have total clarity and alignment around their involvement, contribution and expected deliverables. This results in a great sense of collaboration, respect and empowerment.
Next, there are four key stages and stakeholders to consider:
Inputers: People within the organization assigned to gather the critical information on the brand that will enable a full audit of the understanding of the brand internationally, both to the consumer and business perspectives. It’s important to identify people who are capable of providing detailed insights into each region and market that the brand has a presence in or is targeting as a growth opportunity. They should be multi-discipline experts within the organization, agency partners, researchers and communication planning experts.
Developers: The central core team that will do the brand audit, conduct the international research and develop the hypothesis of what the cultural movement idea should be.
Builders: People brought into the process to engage in the idea and champion the thinking both internally and externally. These people are a mixture of clients, experts, consumers and agency partners.
Producers: A combination of the central team and local market teams responsible for taking the thinking and implementing it in the most powerful way.
Additionally, think about specialty partners, or “bringing the outside in,” to ensure best-in-class results. The model of having everything under one roof is dated, ineffective and inefficient. Surround yourselves with best-in-practice partners who add expertise and insight to the development of the brand-building idea. Look for partners who provide an innovative, agile approach to finding the answers.
It has never been more important for brands to hold a common global meaning. A brand message for Pepsi in the U.K. has an audience in Manchester as well as Malaysia. Marketers and agency partners need to assemble teams of experts equipped to move with speed, agility and flexibility. Gone are the days of slow, bureaucratic layers and systems for the sake of scale and presence — they simply cannot keep up.

You must be a team that has a shared agenda, be passionate about uncovering breakthrough and innovative ground for your brand. Enjoy what you are creating and the legacy you will leave behind in consumers’ minds and within your organizations. Be accountable for setting an inspiring vision for your brand’s meaning worldwide.

Sophie Kelly is a partner at StrawberryFrog. She can be reached at sophie@strawberryfrog.com.