Large international organizations tend to be comprised of multiple business units with locations across the world. Being across time zones and involving lots of people, they’re often decentralized to some degree.

This is amplified for Business to Business (B2B) companies that serve different industries with diverse product sets and services. It can be a big challenge for marketing!

Whereas local teams and business units need to be empowered to capitalize on specific market conditions, marketing has a duty to ensure brand consistency is maintained across operations. To meet the challenge, marketing often adopts a hybrid approach that incorporates elements of centralized and decentralized models.

We work with Hydro, which is a fully integrated, leading aluminium company and one of Norway’s best-known brands. It recently acquired Sapa, bringing its employee count up to 35,000 people across 40 countries. It’s a truly global operation that uses Gelato to support its marketing efforts.

“Hydro is quite a decentralized company… brand management is an ongoing job that will never be done,” says Hilde Kallevig, Hydro’s Head of Brand and Marketing in a recent video interview.

Jacob Nilsen, Hydro’s Director of Brand and Marketing comments: “The role of marketing in the head office is to enable localized teams to do a good job of marketing. But, being a global company with locations all over the world, across time zones and geographies, you need to be coordinated and you need to have good tools to have brand consistency”.

“It’s important that your brand is consistent everywhere and Gelato helps us achieve that.”

Hydro uses the Gelato library to manage print files. By having all its materials in one place, it’s able to maintain control of its brand while allowing localized teams to access materials, make modifications within templates and order what is needed. Hydro is empowering its marketers across the organization, while maintaining centralized control.

“Within our Gelato library, we have all the updated (marketing) materials, available for everyone. That of course reduces the risk of the brand looking one way in one place, and different in another... it’s also about making it easier for everyone and saving costs… (it’s about) not having to throw out stock we have in the basement somewhere!” says Jacob.

Another benefit of a hybrid centralized/decentralized approach is avoiding duplication. Hilde gives an example of this in action: “We have a market in North America as well as in Europe. They both serve the automotive sector, both develop brochures and both serve the automotive sector. Having two different agencies developing brochures for those markets is not really efficient. But with Gelato you can suddenly see, oh here are some materials, perhaps I can use them as they are or I can adapt them!”

For Jacob, digitalization is a good way of enabling control, improving efficiency and freeing up time to be spent on the strategic direction of the company, rather than on admin. “I don’t need to focus on the distribution of content anymore - I can focus on getting the right messages out there, which is the most important thing for me as a marketing person.”

Hilde concludes: “It’s not easy to have tight control of a brand and a visual identity. It requires a lot of work but it requires good tools and good systems.”

Together Hydro and Gelato provide a hybrid marketing approach that works for local and specialist units, along with the global company as a whole. They’ve achieved the best of both worlds.