The Brand Union’s Wally Krantz on International Branding

Wally_Krantz_The-Makegood.comWally Krantz is Worldwide Creative Director at The Brand Union (TBU), a WPP-owned brand strategy and design consultancy. In his role, Wally’s responsibilities span across The Brand Union’s 23-office network. The Makegood recently spoke with Wally about international communication and company brands.

The Makegood: In February, you were promoted to TBU’s Worldwide Creative Director, congratulations! What is your biggest challenge in brand development on an international scale and what’s your solution?

Markets vary by region and country as well as the need to factor in regional cultural nuances. For foundation elements like developing the core logo and identity system, we try to keep an “international” sensibility that is able to transcend borders. The challenging part is when we get into the more detailed communications like advertising and point of sale. This is where the strength of The Brand Union kicks in. I’ve met or spoken with most of the creative and design directors in all of our offices and have a good relationship with them. The creative and strategy teams are able to meet with the regional directors on the client side to work on addressing the local needs of a brand without compromising the core brand.

The Makegood: You developed brand identities and visual identity systems for brands including Vodafone, Bank of America, Shazam and Time Warner Cable. Can you give an example of a project that you’re especially proud of?

We’re currently working with Vodafone on some really great work that I think is going to make me and the teams working with me very proud. Personally, I loved the work we did with Shazam. It wasn’t a reinvention, but more like a tightening up of their system by cleaning up the logos and creating a new secondary graphic. It connects dynamic elements ­– like the screen on my iPhone when I’m tagging a song or a TV show and the animation used on commercials that are “Shazam-able” with the static elements of their business cards and print work. I loved the Shazam app when I first used it. It was like magic and I was really excited to be able to work on making their visual language work better for them by connecting a range of experiences.

There are others that I’ve loved working on, from the FedEx identity at Landor with Lindon Leader, when I was a beginning designer, to creating the identity for the International Rescue Committee ­– the first responders to the world’s worst humanitarian crises who help people to survive and rebuild their lives.

The Makegood: How can marketers successfully develop and maintain a consistent brand identity across different digital networks, countries and target groups?

If you’re going to work across networks, countries, and target groups, your team needs to be aligned. If your marketing teams are not aligned and in agreement on how the brand is going to be presented in their markets, the room for fragmentation and disconnection can be exponential. Having the marketing teams across the regions at the front of an employee engagement program is key.

The Makegood: The Brand Union’s offices include Moscow, Dubai and Mumbai. How do you discover consumer insights from people in different countries to create experiences that influence satisfaction, loyalty and emotional attachment?

The main thing is having great strategists and researchers who understand the markets and work with the international teams to share the insights. This foundation for our work in every office is what makes our work resonate in each market and across regions.

The Makegood: What will we see coming from The Brand Union this year?

As an agency, we’re off to a great start, as we just created the identity, visual system, and advertising for the newly combined global law firm, Dentons, making it the world’s seventh largest legal firm. We’re working with New York City’s Fashion Center BID (Business Improvement District) on a redefined brand positioning, marketing strategy, and visual identity for the neighborhood, projected to launch later this year. As for senior leadership, Fred Richards recently joined as the Worldwide Creative Director for consumer brands and is working with me in the New York office.

From an industry standpoint, in 2013, we’ll be seeing a shift from product-based corporate brands to value and mission-based company brands – this is a big deal, as the companies behind consumer products are becoming more relevant in the customer’s preferences. It is going to be exciting for the whole network.

The Makegood: Thanks, Wally.