The explosion of Internet use is forcing multinational companies to step up global branding and creating an increase in high-profile identity projects.
Multinationals are looking to standardise identities because the range of local brands and marques appearing on international websites is giving users mixed messages. With marketing departments increasingly taking over website management from IT departments the issue is being treated particularly seriously.
Nucleus Design managing director Peter Matthews says a significant and growing proportion of his business comes from major international organisations with no Internet strategy.
“There might be ten sites around the world for a brand, none of them officially sanctioned and each with a different identity. In cases like these the Internet can do a lot of damage,” he says.
Rufus Leonard research director Paul Dickinson backs this up: “We are asked again and again by clients wanting to create a coherent identity both for the companies in their portfolio and their branches across the world.”
Netherlands-based Greenpeace International has suffered from this problem and has appointed two groups to redesign its website. Webworks will create the design and incumbent group Know Haus the structure of the site, to be launched in February, 1998.
“I have a problem with inconsistency on the website. We have 32 offices; 20 of them have websites which use the standard Greenpeace logo, but often adapted,” says Greenpeace communications manager Martin Baker.
Greenpeace will appoint a publications manager to oversee this alignment of its identity.
Unilever’s marketing department is aware of the dangers of “brand schizophrenia”. “In a globalising world we recognise the need to manage identity to prevent it becoming too fragmented. However, we also recognise the need to retain a local element,” says Unilever new media manager Maggie Huddy.
Industry sources suggest that Unilever is planning a significant identity alignment programme for use by its subsidiary companies and brands.