November 17, 2016
By Udo Panenka, President, Esko – I began my article on brand fragmentation due to disconnected marketing efforts, published recently in Branding Magazine, with the quote “Long-term consistency trumps short-term intensity,” from Bruce Lee. Mr. Lee knew what he was talking about; it’s consistency that FMCG brands can use to knit their different channels and strategies back together again. The intensity of digital branding teams or other groups that are channel-centric is admirable, but must be in tune with the overall brand. When every department is singing together, the customer hears the choir, not disconnected voices – regardless of where and how they engage with the brand. Leaders I know estimate that about 60% of large FMCG companies are experiencing this brand fragmentation. But for those that are keeping their brands intact, I see some common practices. Here are a few:
- They name a leader. Typically, a brand manager is responsible to shepherd and focus all consumer communications with the brand. This works best when that leader articulates what the big brand idea is and how each channel supports delivering that big brand message consistently. This leader is like a mini-CMO and is responsible for the entire brand experience.
- They align incentives to common outcomes. When all of marketing receives bonuses for achieving aligned outcomes, and when agencies’ performance-based bonuses are similarly aligned, the brands (and shareholders) benefit from intense efforts toward the same ends.
- They provide everyone a common starting place. When teams centralize their brand assets and provide controlled access to all parties that need them, those parties can produce visually unified marketing campaigns, even across fragmented channels. This increases the consistent sharing, use and re-use of content across departments, markets, time zones, and channels for maximum impact. Theoretically you could solve this problem with a gatekeeper who distributes authoritative assets and information, but software does it best and is scalable.
- They use consistent processes. When an innovation process or packaging approval process yields reliable, high-quality outputs, strong leaders replicate it and operationalize it broadly. Automated workflow technology can keep your process in place with built-in quality checks, utilizing machine inspection instead of human checks whenever possible to avoid inconsistency reaching the consumer. This is especially useful when producing packaging, where the cost of correcting a printed error is much, much higher than the cost of correcting a digital banner error.