Having worked in Industry for 20 years for some of the UK's best, and biggest brands like Cadbury's, Johnson's Baby, Muller to name a few, I thought it would be interesting to capture what smaller businesses can learn from the Big boys! (Both good and bad!)
Clarity of purpose through the business to achieve brand goals
The best branded businesses I have worked for have a clarity of focus running through the organisation - every person with the business understands how their role impacts the achievement of the overall brand goal. For instance the overall brand goal might be to 'get a Muller in every fridge in the UK' - Every department would know exactly what they would have to do to achieve that goal. I've worked in other businesses where everyone isn't aligned to branded objectives and have ' departmental' objectives - i.e an efficiency target which isn't consistent with achieving the overall brand goals. In these businesses it's incredibly hard to achieve the brands objectives as a Marketing department alone. The key take out here is make sure there is a clarity of purpose running throughout the business, and ensuring everyone is working to achieve the overall brand goals - and not departmental goals. Of course there are times when it can't be as black and white as this - but understanding where a departments goals might differ from the overall brand goal is important as you can then mitigate the impact this has on the overall brand goal
Understand your intrinsic value - Don't undersell yourself
We've all been there. The promise of a new listing, a new deal - but it has to be at a price that is below our expectations - do you take the deal? Or do you hold firm on your pricing and retain the value in your brand even if it means losing sales? It's obviously not a black and white decision - there are a multitude of factors that can influence the decision - the impact on factory overheads etc, strength of the brand. Big brands generally have a very clear view on the value in their brand and 'don't give away the family silver' too easily. Of course it's easy to be tough in pricing negotiations when you have a strong brand isn't it? However big brands understand their price elasticity, they understand break even points, and they understand the domino affect that can happen when you undersell your brand for one customer. Big brands have a very clear view on the data, and what 'value' means for them, which means they can have a very clear view on where to put pricing. Do you understand your intrinsic value, and where you should be pitching your pricing?
Find the right balance between long term strategy, and adaptability
As I've highlighted above Big brands plan very effectively, and have very clear roadmaps to growth and brand positioning. However in my career I've worked for some big brands that are so rigid in their 5 year plans, that they struggle to adapt to changes in the macro environment - in this respect big brands could learn from smaller, more adaptable businesses. I think the best practice is akin to a sailing team - you know where you want to get to, but with winds, waves etc the points at which you change course are different, and have to be made in the short term to get you to the long term goal.
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