A global brand is a powerful thing to behold – a brand promise, images, and messaging that are unified from country to country and even continent to continent. Anywhere in the world, your customers (and everyone else) understand exactly who you are and what you represent. This is a balancing act between creating a titanic core message – and localizing it to all the vastly different people and cultures across the globe.
When it’s done right, the effectiveness is undeniable. However, achieving a brand that is recognized all over the world is easier said than done…
From speaking with marketing leaders at enterprise brands (our customers), these are the primary challenges we’ve identified for managing a global brand with a strong local voice:
- The messaging is under a microscope – A global brand makes local messaging more impactful – BUT, mistakes made at the regional level can have an outsized negative impact on the worldwide brand.
- Complicated workflows – With teams all over the world, keeping track of tasks, feedback, and approvals is far more difficult.
- Need for localization – Local marketing teams need to tailor content to their market, yet they can’t stray too far from the global brand ethos.
- Visibility is a challenge – Seeing what each team is doing and being able to support them becomes more challenging as the number of regional teams grows.
- Brand governance is difficult to maintain – Ensuring alignment and enforcing the same standards becomes more difficult with a larger footprint.
This is why companies employ the hub and spoke marketing model to work as a global brand.
The hub and spoke model for marketing consists of a central corporate marketing team (the hub) and regional teams (the spokes). The hub creates marketing initiatives that the spokes push out to their regional markets. This model provides the spokes with a large amount of approved marketing content – while ensuring brand alignment across the globe.
Since Opal is the content operations platform that international brands use to plan, create, and calendar their marketing, we have a front row seat to how the very best companies work. We’re exploring this in detail to highlight the key nuances, best practices, and a hub and spoke model example that showcases how our customers employ Opal for global brand management.
Different Styles for Global Brand Management
These are the models we most commonly see used by enterprise companies:
- Traditional – The traditional hub and spoke model in marketing features a central corporate hub that actively pushes collateral to the spoke teams. In this model, the spokes have autonomy in localizing, scheduling, and even deciding if they want to use optional content.
- Content Bank – In this style, the hub creates content and makes it available in a shared space. The major difference here is that the hub doesn’t assign content to spokes – they make it available in a shared space if the spoke teams want to utilize it. In this model, there may be less oversight into brand alignment. This often means the corporate teams make brand governance documents available for regional teams – and they make following those guidelines the spoke’s responsibility.
- Center of Excellence – The least autonomous approach to internal brand management, a center of excellence is the term for a hub that controls the majority of their spokes’ efforts. This can look like the corporate team dictating everything from campaign scheduling to not allowing changes to content beyond translation.
If you’re adopting a hub and spoke framework, you don’t need to adhere to any of these models exactly. You can set the processes that make sense for your teams – both corporate and abroad. While the specific hub and spoke marketing model doesn’t need to be specified, understanding these definitions can be helpful to plan your processes and to clarify roles.
Hub and spoke marketing use case: video game publisher
Exploring a real hub and spoke marketing use case is the best method to understand it in practice. We’re breaking down how one of our customers manages their global brand using this proven process.
With a market capitalization of over 50-billion-dollars, this international brand is one of the biggest video game publishers on the planet. Even if you’ve never picked up a controller, we guarantee you’ve seen their brand and their games.
Their approach to global management is necessary to ensure they show up as a consistent brand across multiple continents. This hub and spoke model example represents the traditional style – and makes for a stellar choice to profile.
Challenge: This video game publisher needed to support their marketing presence on multiple continents. This would entail supporting the country-specific marketing teams with high-value materials, while simultaneously ensuring they always show up as a unified brand around the world.
Step 1: The digital team (the hub) builds the top line strategy which will be executed by country-specific marketing teams (the spokes). This strategy includes everything from the general themes and products as well as specific content and campaigns. For this use case, let’s explore how they would create a spotlight on a company influencer playing one of their new games.
Step 2: The hub team creates the content that will be used worldwide. For this influencer spot, they write the copy in-house but engage their agency to create the video content. Once the digital team’s asset is approved internally, the content is labeled in Opal to be sent to the spoke teams.
Step 3: Labeling the asset with specific locations pings the relevant people on those international spoke teams. The spoke team marketers are then able to access the influencer spotlight in their local Opal. Depending on how the spoke team labels it, the content may be required for some spoke brands, and it may be optional for others.
Step 4: Each of the country-specific teams performs their own localizations to the hub-provided content. This includes language translations and other content tweaks to ensure the content stays on-brand and connects with the local audience.
Step 5: Once localizations have been made, the spoke team is then able to schedule the content on their Opal calendar. Each individual spoke has control over when to schedule each piece of content, how long to let it run, and other details. Many country-specific teams create a significant amount of their own marketing initiatives which live alongside hub-produced marketing. For example, a spoke team could schedule the influencer spotlight to coincide with a supplemental push on that game.
Step 6: Since all marketing teams are in Opal, the hub has the ability to see a full picture of their spokes in great detail, at any time. For example, the hub can see all of the different countries’ influencer spotlights side-by-side in a single moment to compare the localization differences. In addition, they can look into any spoke’s calendar to see how the brand is appearing in the market.
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Benefits of hub and spoke model in marketing at-scale
When managing a global brand, the hub and spoke marketing model provides benefits to both the corporate hub team and the local spoke team.
Ensures brand alignment – By having the hub produce and govern how content is pushed out across all their markets, they guarantee an always-unified brand experience. This is a major reason that many brands adopt the hub and spoke model in marketing across the globe.
Visibility – Both corporate and regional teams have superior visibility under this framework. The hub can see all campaigns and content in flight. Whereas the spoke teams can see what the hub team is building so as to guide their local planning.
More content for local teams – As seen in the hub and spoke model example, the corporate marketing team does the heavy lifting of producing a significant amount of content (sometimes all of it) for country-specific teams.
Empowers local marketers – The local teams are given autonomy to localize materials for maximum impact – without them having to worry about straying from brand guidelines.
Limits the potential for error – Everything produced by big brands is under a microscope – and mistakes can have far-reaching consequences. The iron-clad series of checks and balances in the workflow limits this risk. If you work with external agencies, this model can limit the problems caused by high marketing agency turnover rates.
Facilitates collaboration – By working back and forth on specific assets, more collaboration happens between corporate and regional teams.
A tested strategy for governing an international brand
The consistency that gives an awe-inspiring brand its power is also its greatest challenge. A missed message or other mistake looks far worse when your audience has a deep understanding of who you are as a company. These challenges become magnified when working at-scale, across continents.
The hub and spoke marketing model is one of the most proven methods for producing marketing material for – and managing – an international brand. This tested model delivers the visibility, brand alignment, and collaboration that corporate leaders require. For the local team, this ensures they are supported by approved, high-impact collateral that enables them to go forth and build their brand.
Want to see how Opal could empower your global brand? Request a custom demo with a product expert today!