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How to manage an international brand

How to manage an international brand

By Ian Schofield, Sales and Marketing Director, Watt Gilchrist International

Managing an international brand is challenging especially when it comes to effectively communicating with global clients and suppliers. This affects even some of the biggest brands – BP, Shell, Nestle, and Proctor and Gamble all face communication and management issues. So how can international brands be managed more effectively?

Controlling the communication flow

Despite major advances, many companies are still shunning technology and continue to struggle with out-dated systems such as gant charts. To survive, a ‘big brother’ approach should be adopted, ensuring that every change is monitored and checked.

This creates a clear, auditable trail for managers to track where the brand is at every stage of development. Advanced solutions, such as ODIN, enable brand managers to have a less stressful role because it frees up their valuable time and ensures a productive communication channel is in place.

In this global marketplace managers are located around the globe, so a clear and organised online communication system is essential to keep everyone updated with the real-time status of a project. In addition, approval can be achieved faster because the system is hosted on the internet, ensuring managers can view copy, artwork, images etc.

It is vital for major brands to get their product to market quicker than their rivals. Coca-Cola is the number one beverage company and you can guarantee that they ensure that any new launch is on shelves before competitors, especially Pepsi. To improve speed-to-market several options must be considered.

Companies can store images centrally and tap into them from any location around the globe. So whether it is the supplier, technical team, factory or headquarters requiring access to assets or sign-off of work, it can be completed simply and speedily.

Over the last decade, advances in communications technology has soared, resulting in conference calls enabling high quality images to be displayed and discussed directly from decision-makers’ desks. This means alterations can be completed instantaneously, by a number of team members, around the world, with no time being wasted by travelling.


The brand logo portrays a certain expectation regarding the quality of the product and this should be the same, wherever it is sold around the world. When you buy a tube of Colgate in Poland, you expect it to be the same quality as the product you buy in your local shop.

Brand recognition is crucial and manufacturers must understand the importance of colour matching, and getting this right at source can save valuable time and money. Although every country uses the same pantone references and specifications, no matter how accurate and detailed, the colour is never identical. This is because different countries have varying standards and there is no consistency. By closely working with printers to ensure artwork and reprographics match first time, only one or two artwork changes are needed rather than ten – saving a lot of time and resource.

Further to this, colour management is not just important in packaging; everything from point-of-sale (POS) materials, marketing, posters and direct mail require colours to match exactly regardless the country. For example, if Pantene launched a local marketing campaign for a specific country, the colours of the materials would need to be identical to those used in other countries.

Many believed brands would grow internationally with the rise of the internet, which was true, but it was also widely accepted that this would cause the diminish of hard-copy catalogues. However, this has not been the result as consumers increasingly relying on magazines to research products before making an online purchase.

Popular catalogue markets, like furniture and clothing, utilise brochures so consumers can check colours and intricate design features. The main reason behind this purchasing behaviour is because computer monitors are completely different - the same image alters on every computer screen.


International brands must be proactive regarding product security. The reputation of your brand is key and must be managed in all markets. In addition to cost implications of fake goods carrying your brand name, it could have serious detrimental impacts on the brand image.

Watt Gilchrist, working with Sun Chemical, is helping tackle this problem by developing unique inks that can be used in packaging, which cannot be duplicated. These inks are already used to prevent counterfeiting currency, and over the coming years I expect to see increased use for consumer products.

In addition, when goods are transported from one country to another, logging details at every stage means that any defects, contamination or fault can be quickly traced to source and dealt with quickly, with minimal disruption.

Technology is key to managing an international brand and by incorporating clear processes into the brand development stage and supply chain, the method becomes quicker and smarter. This reduces complexity, number of people required and the costs involved, which is an advantage to all involved.

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