With a team of 35 people across 12 countries, Aruba’s, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, senior director of EMEA marketing, Jon Moger, knows all about what it takes for a global brand to thrive. In a recent interview, Lucy Gillman picked his brains about overcoming the never-ending challenge of siloed teams, the importance of cultural nuance and why it pays to have a diverse team.
Back to basics: What brand looks like
The prodigal son brand has well and truly returned in 2022 – it’s the key to setting your organisation apart from the rest and capturing attention. But what does brand actually mean?
“Brand for me is often a fairly misunderstood construct within organisations. Not so much within marketing, but in terms of its value and power outside of a marketing organisation,” Jon states. “Companies that do it well, basically get key stakeholder groups involved in the creation of a brand. That brand can be espoused in terms of its personal beliefs, structures, vision, purpose.”
As Jon states, truly global brands do two things well:
- Understand their corporate values as applied in any market. “Quite often those transcend all sorts of cultures,” Jon adds.
- Apply their brand in a consistent, yet culturally sensitive way. As Jon outlines, HPE (Hewlett Packard Enterprise) nails this balancing act. “They are Aruba HPE’s parent company, but they do brand very well!” he quips.
Don’t forget, brand isn’t a static thing. The world is increasingly interconnected which adds increasing complexity in how to meet both the opportunities and challenges presented.
“Certain companies are good at consistently evolving their brand identity to reflect that the world is changing and probably changing at a faster pace than any other time in history. Keeping true to core tenets whilst evolving that for a modern era is an interesting challenge for a lot of brand managers,” Jon adds.
Why it pays to have a global team
“Having diversity in a group is always going to be helpful in any shape or form,” Jon states. “The more diverse you can make an organisation, the more genuine the ideas will be and the more genuine a brand becomes.”
“No one has the greatest ideas,” he continues. “It’s terrible management clichés, but if you’ve got the right culture across the team, everyone should feel empowered to voice their opinions. Great ideas come from anywhere.” So, how can you walk the talk?
At a tactical level Jon’s team hosts best practice sessions. Teams will give an overview on what projects they’re working on. This not only elevates those presenting, but also serves as a source of inspiration; “We’ve got good examples where teams take what works in one market and leverage it in their region. You can take a concept and adapt it which works really well,” Jon elaborates.
Be mindful of cultural nuance
As Jon outlines, getting your international team to sing in non-siloed harmony is “an eternal challenge for all organisations.” Start by thinking about these questions:
- Does everybody in your team, not just marketing, have a clear idea of the company’s vision?
- Does everybody understand the strategy that’s being adopted to realise that vision?
- How can you help individual team members recognise their role in the execution of the strategy?
“You’ve then got to create the right culture for those individual team members to be creative within that framework,” Jon continues. “By creative, I don’t just mean artwork, brand or campaign creativity. It includes making sure that the cultural nuances are applied correctly, or executing brand differently within their territory.”
See Aruba HPE. When it comes to hosting technical events, they avoid the stereotypical hotel environment that competitors use in favour of less formal environments to build a rapport with clients. “Part of that is making sure that what works in UK, for example, is going to be different in the Middle East where it might be more formal – that execution needs to reflect the brand and be culturally applicable,” Jon elaborates. “We work with centralised teams or other team members in local geography on making sure that execution is right.”
The language you use matters
In a similar vein, pay attention to the type of language you use when it comes to marketing. Jon advises a balance between localisation (making the language culturally relevant to your audience) and literal, automated translation (word for word) – needless to say, a marketing campaign that talks about concept, values and business benefits won’t easily translate.
“Because of the volume of materials we have, we have different approaches to translation. Some stuff is more automated, some is done in a bespoke manner by the local team,” Jon continues. “The challenge as ever is the amount of people you have available and the amount of time they have available to do those things – getting the balance right between quantity and quality then making sure you’ve got that focus on what really matters.”
The main marketing challenge? Avoid stereotypes and acronyms. As Jon puts it, “the type of language that you use is potentially going to alienate or be seen as offensive. Sensitivity and inclusivity in how you communicate is incredibly important.”
And don’t forget, “the people who are creating the content and the source [need to] have an appreciation for how it’s going to get used in its own context. That’s important”