4 Ways CPG Companies Can Maintain Voice Across a House of Brands

Imagine you are in charge of social at a large consumer packaged goods company and you have over a hundred brands to wrangle. Each brand team is fending for themselves or possibly asking for advice. How would you maintain some semblance of order and consistency? Is is possible to preserve a unified voice across a variety of products? In my experience with the house of brands challenge, I've come across several ideas that could help CPG brands:

Ensure visibility across all brands

One of the biggest challenges for a center of excellence or cross-functional team in a CPG company is visibility across the whole portfolio. I’m stating the obvious, but most organizations have siloes and don’t share data. However, as Peter Drucker said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” Our most advanced customers in this industry are leveraging parts of our platform like labels and all-channel analytics to make sure they are measuring what’s working and what’s not. If you don’t have visibility across your brands, how can you provide guidance and support? Collect the data to help build the case for consistency.

Draw insights from data

Data is one thing, insights are another. After you build more clarity on the big picture, gather a small team from marketing, care, and consumer insights to start digging into the meaning behind the data. Do you have a theory about how your brand voice resonates? Start there. Look for insights around engagement and patterns between brands. CPG companies are targeting the same person for many of their brands. What insights can you share to help raise the tide? Leverage these insights to not only inform, but to improve the impact from your social initiatives.

Leverage these insights to not only inform, but to improve the impact from your social initiatives.

 

Make collaboration across teams a priority

I was recently visiting a large consumer goods company and noticed a habit CPG brands would be smart to imitate. They had regular cross-functional meetings with all groups that dealt with social, marketing, care, public relations, and more. Why? They want to go to market with a more consistent voice. They also want to promote growth and process improvement through sharing best practices. It might help to have a shared command center, but if you’re not making collaboration a priority, you will just have data on screens. One CPG company creates friendly competition internally among brands with an emphasis on shareable content, Then, the brands meet to share tips on how they are connecting with consumers. Another organization swarms teams from different divisions during campaign planning. Though the process may differ, the bottom line is the same: sharing is caring.

Take a stand

Another idea to bridge the gap between your house of brands and customers is to take a stand on a common issue. Consumers today, especially Millennials, are connecting more with brands based on values, in other words brands that take a stand. For example, some CPG’s focus on sustainability. A central team will promote corporate responsibility while each brand can share how they are making sustainable choices related to their products. Make sure you are genuine and build trust at a global level, but utilize that theme at the local level. Each brand can add their own flavor (pun intended) to the corporate message and, therefore, sound unified.

I want to mention one counterpoint about a consistent voice. And actually it’s all about voice. As consumers are adopting voice technologies like Amazon Alexa and Google Home, some thought leaders say the importance of brands will go away. It is a theory to at least consider and as a house of brands think about how each brand stands out to consumers. For example, consumers don’t order tissues on Alexa, they order Kleenexes. What are the implications of a voice-first user experience? Will your brand stand out or be a generic product that is adding to your drone shipment?

Whether you are developing a collective voice or encouraging each brand to stand independently, managing a house of brands on social is a unique challenge. Reach out to me on Twitter to keep the discussion going.

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Tim Bursch is the Minneapolis Market Director at Spredfast. When he’s not tweeting, blogging, or strategizing, Tim spends time with his wife and 3 kids, all of whom enjoy cooking great food or scoping out the next great restaurant in Minneapolis. He’s also really good at drinking coffee and reading lots of books.