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Technology in Practice: Where Companies Fall Short

Posted by: Robin Rusch on July 15, 2011

Last week I was the guest at a global organization in a sunny dateline city. Invited to talk about digital asset management systems, I entered a business park of 20 buildings, all humming under the same master brand.

The underground parking lot displayed a scrolling ribbon stock ticker above parked cars, reminding visitors of the immutable bond between time and money.

The elevator opened to reception where way-finder robots crouched ready to escort visitors around the sleek interiors. Presented with a temporary keycard synced to allow only my unique path, I was whisked across campus by shuttlebus, delivered at yet another checkpoint, up another elevator, cruised through corridors of nameless employees, and eventually arrived at a conference room where scheduling was timed to within a second of the day.

All as you might expect at a highly-functioning global organization, which requires absolute synchronicity to orchestrate a +4.5 billion dollar brand.

Then the meeting with corporate branding began and 21st century progress ground to a halt.

Asked about the process for brand management across the regions or business units, the brand manager stared blankly, eventually settling on a weak smile. “Well, there’s me… and in the summer, we have an intern.”

How’s that working out?

The state-of-the-art methods for communicating and exchanging files across the brand management department of this global organization involve email, dropbox, cd-roms (remember those?), and telephone.

She allowed that some of the regions were not always compliant. No kidding?!

That’s basically 1.5 people responsible for deploying a global brand and all its sub-brands across regions, business units, sponsorships, audiences, three major languages, and new acquisitions (this organization acquires companies more often than most people floss). Add the other challenges of managing a brand such as gaining sign off, approving local realizations, and educating local colleagues on execution, and I wondered how she even had time for our meeting.

Could technology help the brand communications department?

Leaving the building, I asked one of the way-finding robots. It beeped furiously, turned three times and slumped over. 

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