Why 'silos' aren't necessarily the enemy when it comes to building international awareness.
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‘Breaking down silos’ is a trendy, utopian corporate mentality that continues to reach the podium in most marketing blueprints, and it is not without merit. Silos have the potential to reduce efficiency and have serious consequences on a productive company culture.
On the contrary, an integrated structure that seamlessly transfers content across departments and markets is the holy grail of present day marketing narratives.
But the reality of bringing a silo-free institution to life is a challenging one. Cut and paste tactics and quick-fix formulas will time and time again rear their ugly head – with management teams lacking the time and resources to combat them.
Thankfully, silos do not need to be the enemy of effective global content. Here are some tips on how you can approach a global customer experience that takes into account the silo status-quo.
1) Initiate a ‘war council’ to gather useful insights
Receiving broad-brush content from central offices that simply does not work for the market is a well-known bugbear of marketers worldwide – especially when the expectation is to shut up and make it work. If the audience has no affinity with the content and it is clearly not fit for purpose, they will be disconnected from it, and the brand.
A good example of the ‘one size fits all’ methodology falling flat in a market was when a television advertising campaign tried to promote Indian mobile phone company, Bharti Airtel, in Africa.
The campaign used actors only from South Africa (when the business is located in 17 African countries) along with the use of coins (when many Africans use paper currency only). This was a poorly conceived idea that underestimates nuances of different markets.
A tip to help combat this regional rift is to establish a brand “war council” where representatives from different regions provide feedback on different interpretations of the brand or campaign. The forum will provide a platform for insight sharing and ideas that encourages a truly global brand, whilst promoting integration between regional offices and general company rapport.
Regional thinking will be utilised while a central office representative spearheading the discussion will ensure markets are kept in line with overarching brand expectations.
2) Assign brand mediators to take the helm on the ground
If there is resentment from teams that are bombarded with global content irrelevant to their market; riddled with translation errors and lacking cultural insights, your brand is going to be relying on a disheartened and uninspired workforce that will swiftly lose passion for a brand they once believed in.
Make an active effort to unlock the expert knowledge of your regional teams while keeping a handle on brand protocol by sending your content out into other markets and divisions with a brand mediator.
By creating an integrated content team for specific campaigns, starting with a centralised team that can be sent out into the silos to negotiate content with the various markets, all objectives will be met. The silos will still exist, but the brand’s best people will be on the ground at the helm of project planning, fusing your expert local knowledge with a brand gatekeeper.
3) Make your guidelines motivate and foster further brand development
Brand guidelines direct marketers, designers and agencies alike through projects, ensuring the brand’s core messages, style and identity is always at the forefront. But there is often criticism from teams suggesting they choke creativity and contradict social norms and customs in differing regions. Having your teams submissively following set-in-stone steps without a global marketing strategy will set regional teams on a frustrating course towards failure.
To make your brand guidelines work for all your company’s divisions, initiate a project for regional brand guideline development and send it out to the silos. This will encourage local ideas and input, with opportunity for negotiation helping to keep teams on side with the brand and the value of guidelines as a principle.
If regional teams feel their insights are having impact on the content for their own audiences, the results will be a team that fights harder for their brand and guidelines that carry global sentiment.
Applying these three simple tips will allow your company to successfully work within a silo structure, creating effective global content in spite of inherent corporate structures.