Speed of global brand growth is slowing down. Fast mover strategies pay a high price for restructuring. Successful brands grow with brand best practices.
Whether Tommy Hilfiger convinces Zalando buyers with a digital showroom, a Royal Copenhagen store manager in Japan tracks KPIs by hand, or Lululemon enters new markets on grassroots values – brand best practices, small and large, enable brands to outgrow competitors.
The Foundation of Best Practice is Good Workmanship
So you don’t care much about brand best practices 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
When you want to understand your organization and where to improve your practices, focus on checking these five core drivers that aim to create best practices:
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, dashboard…).
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 & KPIs are your ‘gears’ to create good practices.
The quality and balance of your processes, structures, tools, resources & KPIs influences 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. So if their process, structures, tools, KPIs and resources are not aligned, Marketing will create poor practice, regardless how great the campaign looks on TV.
Some time it is surprising how large the difference in different department practices are. I’m not speaking about the difference between your design and your finance departments. I’m talking for example about two of sales organisations in two of your 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. And you may be surprised to find how obvious the cause of the current performance.
Just go and interview on how process, structures, … work in both countries. I promise it will be enlightening. You’ll be surprised how basic your findings will be and how obvious the answers for improvements are. From my own experience, I find it very surprising, how little time companies spend understanding and managing the development of good practices, and rather hire a new manager (with little improvement thereafter).
Allow me to say this: regardless of which culture or nationality, a good and appropriate set of ‘gears’ (Processes, Structures, Tools, Resources & KPIs ) makes you grow qualitatively and long-term everywhere. But never push to have the very 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 foundation things 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 get into trouble. Or the new designer his creativity is great, but he late in his processes, and gets sourcing and their lead times into turmoil.
Best practice management means knowing how to secure balanced growth in all parts of your organization. Best practice management means knowing when it is smart to push process enhancements and when it is better to focus on KPIs.
Promote Best Practice and Stay Tuned for Concrete Cases
If you have the luxury of working 20+ years in the retail & lifestyle industry, you meet many interesting people and see great examples of good workmanship. You learn, regardless of how much trouble the company is in, that there are always departments doing an excellent job. The thing is only, nobody speaks about it. Because it is not recognized? There is no time? Or is it that it’s just not sexy? Whatever the reasons, I have witnessed so many good examples that I want to share a few unique or representative ones with you. I hope that by sharing I can inspire you to search and work on your own best practices.
From next week on, we will regularly share examples of brand best practice. We will start with the home story from Tommy Hilfiger’s new wholesale living room and how digital changes buyer’s behaviours. We will follow with a story about a store manager in Japan, which demonstrates that you don’t need systems to manage store KPIs. So stay tuned by subscribing to our blog to ensure you don’t miss these and other great cases.
In any case don’t hesitate to contact us, if you’d like to share your own best practice stories. We guarantee, we will bring it!
About the author
Guido has been working as a manager and consultant in the brand industry for 20+ years. As founder of Team Retail Excellence, he assisted entrepreneurs and managers to grow brand organizations qualitatively and commercially. This post is an early abstract from his coming book on “Best Practices for Brand Growth Management”. You can reach him best by email or see more from him here.