How does a global company roll out “the next new thing?” Deploy it in hundreds of offices? In dozens of countries? To legions of employees? To thousands of customers and prospects? These days, corporations rely on analytics and sophisticated logistics that drive thousands of point decisions in parallel.
A global roll-out grows rapidly in complexity with each new location added. The complexity rises not linearly, one location adding incrementally to the last, but exponentially. This is as true for the logistics of a rebranding program as it is for the logistics of other roll-outs, from new products, to marketing campaigns, ERP systems, sales program and other global initiatives. Whether the challenge is to rebrand at plants, offices, dealers, franchises, or other locations, companies with the right data, analyzed in the right way, can develop solutions that increase impact and reduce cost and risk.
This was clearly demonstrated by a BrandActive client, a global manufacturer of industrial machinery, as it entered what we refer to as “Roll-out and Manage” – phase three of our four step methodology. To succeed with its rebranding, the company needed to roll-out its updated brand to dealers across the globe. While the sheer numbers of dealers was in itself a challenge to manage, the diversity of locations – from simple, rural dealerships in developing nations to head offices in the world’s capital cities – had to be accounted for in the logistics planning for the roll out.
While dealers around the world were committed to the company’s brand, in hundreds of locations in developing countries, dealers couldn’t absorb the cost of new molded and illuminated signs mounted on large towers. This raised an issue that many companies can identify with: How do you satisfy the requirements of diverse, global brand constituencies while achieving brand and commercial objectives, and make the project happen in a reasonable timeframe?
Our solution in this case involved development of a comprehensive, global vendor strategy for signage supported by a robust logistics plan that incorporated thorough documentation and a carefully considered RFP process. A number of options were developed and analyzed against the benchmarks of brand consistency, quality control, resource implications and economies of scale.
As an example, one option considered for China was to make all signs in the U.S., include them in the company’s world-class supply chain, and deliver them along with other parts-replenishment shipments. The signs would become just one more “part” dealers could order.
Ultimately, the option chosen involved a regional hub approach where a select number of signage suppliers were approved for each continent, giving the company the right mix of manufacturing proximity, economies of scale, and quality/brand consistency. A key component of this approach was the creation of two grades of sign specifications, which met both brand and quality standards, but with different manufacturing requirements and cost profiles. The specifications reflected the commercial realities of respective markets and local manufacturing capabilities. For example, instead of demanding sign makers in less-developed markets to buy technology to mold expensive internally illuminated signs, the secondary specification created a simpler design of rigid aluminum-box signs. The box signs applied the brand in a consistent and impactful manner but were easier to make and install with locally available equipment, and could be illuminated with external spotlights rather than requiring a complicated internal LED system.
The benefits of this approach were numerous and included:
- A 30% overall cost savings associated with the simplified sign specification
- Elimination of the risk that dealers would go to local untrained signage suppliers in order to address local conditions or cost concerns
- Increased dealer engagement in the rebranding program as a result of feeling that the company “listened to their concerns and was realistic about developing markets and industrial settings”
- Brand consistency on a global scale
- A sophisticated logistics roll-out process that included consistent documentation and automated RFPs and transfer of sign-design drawings and specifications to assure sign makers around the world worked from the same plans in the same way
- Adoption of a new approach for maintenance of the company’s sign program for the long term that completely changed the decision-making process in the field
- Setting up the Roll-out and Manage phase of a brand implementation must allow for specialized procurement, up-front value engineering and expertise with respect to the logistics of rebranding. The combination of all of these advantages speeds up the rebranding process, saves costs and assures a much higher level of brand integrity in execution.