Global branding seen by 3 top CMOs

Great interview with not 1 but 3 of the world's top CMOs on global branding done by Marc de Swaan Arons, Chairman of Effective Brands, a company I really admire. The full dowload is on their site here. They help global marketing teams work more effectively with their counterparts in local marketing. The interviews were done with Simon Clift, CMO of Unilever till April 2010; Rob Malcolm ex-President, Global Marketing, Sales and Innovation at Diageo and Jim Stengel, former Global Marketing Officer at Procter & Gamble.

Marketers need to be "poets and operators": Interesting to hear Stengel of P&G talk about how the company has worked on boosting creative capabilities of its marketing folk, and area that was never a strength. Nor something the company thought was important really. I joked that P&G people walked in leaning to the left, as this side of the brain was so developed 😉

"When I was at P&G, I realized we were much more like operators than artists. I felt that we would never become the kind of brand company that we could be without building up our creative capabilities. So I worked with AG Lafley, our CEO, and other P&G leaders to boost that capability."

But, focus on your strengths: even though Stengel said you need both creative and opearational skills, interesting that he recognizes some people are better at one or the other. And the need to allow people to focus on their stengths. I've often seen business operators being given strategic brand roles that they're not right for.

"At P&G, one career path would lead to running a country, running a customer team, and eventually to being a candidate for a senior operational position. The other option would be a franchise
leades who are co-innovators…incredible communicators."

The joys of global branding: there is a hell of a lot of shit to wade through running a global brand. Lots of politics and organisational problems. But nice to see Malcom selling the upside of global branding: RM:

"For me the single biggest reward is seeing the scale transformation of the great big global brand. With Johnnie Walker, we worked hard to get the right strategy, and once we nailed it we activated it the right way at scale across the globe. To see the transformational value of that when you get it right is almost euphoric."

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Be your brand CEO:
I have say to the global brand directors we work with that its very important to have an inspiring vision for your brand, act like "the brand CEO". Sounds a bit over-the-top perhaps, but I tell these managers to try and act like Steve Jobs, or Tom Ford, ex-Gucci. Set the vision, and encourage the local teams to aim high with their marketing to reach this. A sentiment echoed by Clift:

"The companies we all most admire are driven by people who are good at business but also have a kind of passionate, almost unreasonable vision for their brand."