I read an interesting post today on the Branding Strategy Insider blog that made the case that bigger brands don’t necessarily have better marketers behind them than smaller brands do. Mark Ritson wrote in his post about how his consulting experience over the years has proven that smaller brands are just as likely to have marketers of similar capabilities and knowledge as bigger brands. I have to agree with Mark but from a slightly different perspective.
My experience in Corporate America, working for some of the largest companies in the world, and in working with smaller companies through my own marketing company has shown me that marketing and branding talent can be found behind brands of all sizes. The difference typically comes from the support behind those people.
Large brands in large companies are guilty of not being able to get out of their own way. Completing even the simplest marketing initiative requires the marketing team to move mountains in terms of getting leadership buy-in, technical support, resource allocation, budget approval, and so on.
On the other hand, smaller companies can make decisions on the fly and implement marketing initiatives in a more timely and efficient manner. As large corporations grew bigger and bigger over the course of the past decade with one merger and acquisition after another, the “can’t get out of their own way” syndrome multiplied exponentially at large companies. There is a reason why small start-ups are able to steal market share and succeed – innovation and streamlined processes. It’s easier to get approval and buy-in from a handful of people than it is to get sign-off from a never-ending list of executives, managers, and so on.
Unfortunately, this is a problem that all big brands that have grown into big corporations have to face. There is no way around it. Making mountains out of molehills is how the corporate machine works. Even the most talented marketers work with their hands tied when they’re part of a huge organization. It’s frustrating and can be challenging to navigate even in the best of times. With stockholders demanding double-digit growth after years of inflated performance by most public companies, marketers often find themselves scrambling to boost ROI with little support behind them. Unfortunately, until stockholder growth demands lower to reasonable expectations, that’s not going to change.
What do you think? Can a brand get too big and become a victim of its own success?
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