The speed of global brand growth has been slowing down. While fast-movers pay a high price for restructuring, successful brands continue to grow with brand best practice management.
Whether Tommy Hilfiger wins over Zalando buyers with a digital showroom, Rapha thrives thanks to their tight-knit membership community, or Lululemon enters new markets on grassroots values – brand best practice management enables brands to outgrow competitors.
The Foundation of Best Practice Management is Good Workmanship
So you don’t care much about brand best practice management in your organisation? What about good workmanship? Your brand benefits from good work and you are in trouble if there are poor practices in place. Good practices are the reason your brand still exists, where others have vanished. Brand best practices are most likely the core reason your department is successful.
But let’s face it: good workmanship hasn’t been a board room priority in the last few years. You won’t find much great literature, no major management guru has been promoting it and you would hardly convince anyone with the topic at your investor conference. In other words: best practice management isn’t very sexy! But despite all the market changes and progression of technology, quality of workmanship still makes the difference between poor practices and best practices. The fact is that some of the current most successful brands build their success on creating multiple best practices.
Ingredients of Brand Best Practice Management
When you truly want to understand your organisation and what practices to improve upon, focus on checking these five core drivers of best practice management:
Processes: the core activities and sequences of events that create quality, speed, or encourage pragmatism.
Structures: the way responsibilities are shared or divided and create simplicity or complexity in processes and decision making.
Tools: the mix of hand-made pragmatic and sophisticated instruments to organize progress and improvements (business recaps, project plans, dashboards and so on).
KPIs: the reports, numbers and performance discussions that take place to track and manage performance.
Resources: the expertise recruited and how they are developed to grow the organisation qualitatively.
Your processes, structures, tools, resources and KPIs are the gears in your best practice machine.
The quality and balance of your processes, structures, tools, resources & KPIs determine whether your work is just average or best practice. Your tools to support your social media campaign may be great, but you won’t create a sales impact, if the products are late in store (because of a poor process interface between buying & marketing). You may have a great organisational structure, with marketing managers for each distribution channel, but they do not align their marketing work. If process, structures, tools, KPIs and resources are not aligned, marketing will create poor practice, regardless how great a campaign looks on TV.
Sometimes it is surprising how large the difference between departments are. I’m not speaking about the difference between your design and your finance departments. I’m talking for example about two of your sales organisations in different countries. If you want to understand why your Italian division isn’t growing, don’t ask for a PowerPoint presentation. Check on their processes, structures, tools, resources & KPIs. You might be surprised how basic your findings and how obvious potential improvements are.
From my own experience, I find it very surprising, how little time companies spend understanding and managing the development of good practices. Often, a new manager is hired instead and little improvement follows. Regardless of local culture, an appropriate set of gears (processes, structures, tools, resources and KPIs ) helps you grow qualitatively and long-term everywhere. But never push for the exact same processes, structures & KPIs in all parts of your organisation.
The Concept of Brand Best Practice Management
If you place higher priority on best practices, you will begin once again to appreciate good workmanship and those foundations that make you truly successful. If you encourage the search for your own best practice, it will help to better understand your areas of improvement. If you manage and grow the average practices to good practice standards you will keep the organisation in balance. Give retail generous investments for expansion and you will get great flagship stores, but the financial performance may rub into trouble. Or the new designer is brilliant in their creativity but struggles meeting deadlines and thus gets sourcing and their lead times into turmoil.
Best practice management means knowing how to secure balanced growth in all parts of an organisation. Best practice management means knowing when it’s smart to push process enhancements and when it is better to focus on KPIs.
Promote Best Practice When You See It
If you enjoy the privilege of working 20+ years in the retail & lifestyle industry, you meet many interesting people and see great examples of good workmanship. You learn that, regardless of how much trouble a company is in, there are always departments doing an excellent job. The problem is that nobody speaks about them. Because great workmanship isn’t recognised? Or because there never seems to be enough time to highlight best practice management? Whatever the reasons, I have witnessed so many good examples that I regularly share unique or representative ones in our Best Practice category.
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About the Author:
Guido is a brand & retail manager who has worked for 25+ years for small and high profile brands in Europe, Asia, US and the Middle East. Throughout his career he has assisted entrepreneurs and managers to successfully grow their brand distribution. He currently coaches start-ups on their strategic growth path and best practice management. You can read more of his work here or connect with him on LinkedIn.