How Marketers Can Understand Their Organizational Identity and Why It Matters | doctorate | Open mic

Over the past 15 years, rapid advancements in consumer technology have had a significant impact on marketing communications and created new opportunities for marketers to connect with consumers.

However, it also increased the complexity. A study conducted by PHD and WARC in 2021 found that over the past 10 years, there has been a 51% increase in the number of marketing capabilities a typical organization has to manage.

But scaling up isn’t easy. Today, many marketers are still unsure whether to go in-house or outsource, for example, or whether to build advanced network service centers or outsource for more efficiency.

They are also trying to understand how new capabilities should relate to each other, how they can be supported by technology, and what KPIs they will use to judge incremental impact.

However, to learn how to make the right decisions, marketers must begin by understanding the organizational identity of the company they work in, because there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

Model optimization

Organizations can be grouped into one of four types, divided into two main dimensions: ‘product vs. marketing driven’ and ‘centralized vs. decentralized’.

These can be viewed as follows:

Above: the organizational identity matrix

The “product-driven versus marketing-driven” dimension asks the question: is marketing focused on the product or is it focused on the ever-changing nature of the market?

The “centralized or decentralized” dimension asks to what extent is marketing organized around centralized governance and support, as opposed to decentralization to multiple regions or departments?

Within the product dimension, there are two types of organization: ‘engineers’ and ‘inventors’. “Engineers” focus on product excellence and consistency of delivery, while “inventors” adapt products and marketing to stay relevant in the market.

In the marketing-oriented dimension are “networkers” and “entrepreneurs”. The first are companies of networking specialists, who work together to evolve products according to market conditions. The latter respond to market conditions with a variety of products and outputs.

“Inventors” and “entrepreneurs” are often decentralized organizations, while “engineers” and “networkers” are usually part of more centralized corporate structures.

Each of the four types of organization has very clear requirements for how its marketing departments must be structured to operate successfully. These can be understood as follows:

Engineering organizations

“Engineers” are organizations focused on product excellence and delivery consistency. They usually have a well-ordered product schedule which, for global companies, is likely to span all markets.

These organizations work best by centralizing creative assets and using a wide range of media channels, supported and/or run from hubs for greater efficiency and consistency. However, they let local markets shape campaigns to remain culturally relevant.

Going forward, “engineers” should perform routine marketing support services in offshore/nearshore locations to increase efficiency and standardize approaches, which is important for consistency of measurement and reporting .

Beyond the media, the “engineers” want constant creative oversight to ensure that the long-term brand image remains as consistent as the quality of the product. They should therefore look to agencies to provide new interpretations of the central themes of each new campaign, depending on what is happening in the culture.

Inventor-Based Organizations

Inventor-based organizations are different from “engineers” because of their decentralized structures. Marketers and local markets are often left to their own devices, from using their own mix of channels and technology providers to assessing the contribution of each marketing element. This level of freedom can be challenging, but also increase inefficiencies and, in some cases, cause certain markets to lag behind.

Networking organizations

“Networks” are often very large and/or mature organizations that have become more centralized over time. To respond to changing consumer behavior and constant product and marketing refinements, networkers will need to develop a highly connected workforce, be able to operate effectively across silos, and pay close attention to workflow technology.

One of the main objectives of marketing within these organizations should therefore be to find the balance between the short term (being responsive to a changing market) and the long term contribution of the brand.

Agencies can add real value to “networks” with more holistic, portfolio-based planning services – bringing order to multiple products and overlapping campaigns, and also focusing advanced capabilities to increase the activation of local markets.

Entrepreneur organizations

Finally, “entrepreneurial” organizations are those that tend to react quickly to opportunities, due to their market focus. Support from external agencies must therefore be deeply integrated for agility, perhaps even integrated into the client organization.

As with inventor-type companies, “entrepreneurs” should also share best practices within their networks, but with a greater focus on technology. This can enable real-time sharing of trends and case studies as they emerge from countries around the world.

To successfully reorganize for the future, all marketers must understand their company’s organizational identity before rethinking areas such as capabilities, technology, processes, and metrics. To move forward, they must act now.

To learn more about organizational identities, pick up a copy of PHD’s latest book, Shift | A marketing overhaul.

Aubrey L. Morgan