How to build a consistent brand experience through distributed teams (from local to global)

Despina Singh

September 27, 20238 min read

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Struggling to keep your brand's vibe consistent when you've got teams all over the globe? It's like juggling multiple projects in a bustling office — challenging but totally doable.  

Imagine having brand guidelines that everyone just "gets," nifty training sessions to keep the creative juices flowing and a digital toolbox with all the cool stuff for your campaigns. Plus, smooth approval processes, collaboration tools that bring teams together and makes room for local touch.  

Amir Dekel, lead solutions consultant, Sprinklr — in a conversation with Brown Kelly, director of field marketing, Hibbett, City Gear — got the scoop on how to keep your social media branding consistent in a Power Session by Socialverse
 
Hibbett, a prominent athletic-inspired fashion retailer, is headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama. As of July 29, 2023, it operates 1,148 specialty stores under the names Hibbett, City Gear and Sports Additions across 36 states nationwide. Hibbett boasts a rich history of serving customers for over 75 years, offering convenient locations, exceptional personalized customer service and access to sought-after footwear, apparel and accessories from renowned brands such as Nike, Jordan and Adidas. 

Having been with Hibbett, City Gear for almost 15 years now, Brown grew his career from the field team to becoming its director. He said:

“It's all about customer service. When we're in the field, we serve our customers in our stores. In the Store and Support Center, where I currently work with this team, our customers are the field associates. This includes activities like hyperlocal social media engagement and community involvement, which are core focuses of our team.”

Brown spends much of his time empowering the field and supporting it through hyperlocal social media and community involvement.

Let’s unravel Hibbet’s growth hacks to build a consistent brand experience through distributed teams as shared by its very own Director of Field Marketing Brown Kelly.

Table of Contents

1. Start collaboration at the grassroots

In the world of collaboration between central and local store managers, the path to success isn't always as straightforward as it seems. Amir's question about the best practices when it comes to scaling collaboration between central and local store managers leads us to uncover some valuable insights that can significantly impact your business strategy.  

Let's break it down with a few lessons that are more relatable than your daily office coffee break: 

Start local, think big: Collaboration should begin at the grassroots level – the store. Why? Because it's like building an office tower; you need a strong foundation. 

Empowerment over bureaucracy: Instead of drowning in corporate red tape, empower your local teams. Think of them as your creative department; they can whip up content that resonates with your local audience better than any corporate memo.

Authenticity is key: Authenticity isn't just a buzzword. Let your local teams talk to their customers in person — it's like having a one-on-one meeting, but on a grand scale. 

Collaboration that impresses: When you start hyper locally, you'll be impressed by the results and so was Brown — it all begins with trusting your local team and giving them the right amount of autonomy. 

In Brown’s words:

2. Drive adoption of technology

In the world of business, technology is like a toolkit. But what good is a toolkit if no one knows how to use it effectively? Here are some of Brown’s observations on how to ensure a seamless adoption of technology within a company.  

Great adoption is key: Embracing technology is as essential. A tool without a purpose is as useless as a broken stapler. 

Growing a business, not a person: Growing a business requires a strategy and a system, just like a well-structured office. 

People power and gamification: Leveraging human resources is like assembling a dream team in the office. Brown shares that their ambassador programs, like the Hibbfluencer and Highest Gear programs, use real people to amplify technology adoption.

Instagram post from the Hibbfluencer program by Hibbet

Accelerated momentum via gamification: Technology adoption, much like a project deadline, can pick up speed rapidly. Brown shares how Hibbett and City Gear’s adoption rates rose to over 90% in just a few months by leveraging gamification and ambassador programs. 

Fun in the fundamentals: Work doesn't have to be a monotonous grind; it can be as enjoyable as a team-building game in the office. By infusing fun into the fundamentals of technology adoption, businesses can create a winning formula.

He also adds that the value Sprinklr Distributed Marketing platform’s gamification adds in motivating remote users is undeniable.

3. Harness user-generated content (UGC)

In the dynamic world of retail, lessons learned from Hibbet on centralizing content sharing can provide insightful revelations for enhancing your business operations. 

The power of UGC sourcing: User-generated content (UGC) is a goldmine. Just like tapping into a hidden office talent, Hibbet discovered that UGC has deeper potential when sourced effectively.  

But how to tap into the power of user-generated content?

  • Use content created at the store level: Think of it as harnessing the unique skills of your team members in different departments

  • Repurpose it for your website: Transform their work into a valuable resource for your customers, just like sharing knowledge within your organization

Authenticity wins the day: Consumers crave authenticity like employees appreciate transparency.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Showcase real-life visuals: Imagine your product pages as the company's bulletin board, displaying genuine, unfiltered images

  • Consumers relate to the unscripted: It's like candid office conversations that resonate more than rehearsed speeches

Centralized content harvesting: Think of your central office as the mothership — the heart of your organization.

  • Harvest content from the stores: Gather insights, ideas and materials from every department

  • Bring it back to the support center: Share this valuable knowledge with the entire team to foster collaboration and innovation

Tangible benefits and revenue streams: The proof is in the numbers. Hibbett's success story in Jennings, Missouri, demonstrates the power of this approach. Similar to a department generating profit, your content can be a money-making asset. 

Sharing success stories: Just as you'd celebrate achievements in the office, Hibbet shares its success story with the field team.

  • Use success stories to motivate: Highlighting victories inspires the entire team

  • Foster a culture of excellence: Encourage employees to aim for the bullseye, just as Hibbet did with its content strategy

Hear it in Brown’s own words:

4. Make training and resources fun 

Making training and resource usage enjoyable fosters a strong relationship between distributed teams and the brand. Programs like ambassador initiatives can be a game-changer, aligning team members with the company's goals and values. Brown's perspective on this topic offers practical lessons that organizations can apply to foster creativity and engagement within their teams while staying true to their brand identity: 

Building relationships through fun content: According to Brown,

“People don't care what you know until they know that you care.”

Brown underscores the importance of building relationships with your audience. Making content enjoyable and fun opens the door for meaningful connections. When consumers have fun with your content — participate in contests and giveaways, engage in trends and challenges or even share their own stories with you — they are more likely to develop a lasting customer relationship. 

Encouraging employee engagement: Invest in your associates. Brown emphasizes that the principle of making things fun should not only apply to your audience but also extend to your own team members. When you engage your associates with the tools you provide, they are more likely to embrace and effectively use those tools. This buy-in from employees is essential for program success. 

Embracing ambassador programs: Brown advocates for the implementation of ambassador programs regardless of the organization's size or depth of the program. Such programs can harness the momentum of human connection and shared purpose, leading to remarkable outcomes. 

Rewarding and recognizing achievements: Brown's mention of rewarding ambassadors who earned specially-designed Air Force 1s with the company logo highlights the significance of recognizing and incentivizing achievements. Rewarding your team members for their efforts can motivate them to excel. 

Making it fun: Throughout the conversation, Brown emphasizes the idea of making everything fun. This serves as a recurring theme and a key takeaway. Fun fosters engagement and engagement drives results. 

Sprinklr's success story: Brown shares a specific example of the Sprinklr Air Force Ones and how they were used to reward ambassadors during a successful adoption challenge. This showcases the practical application of the lessons discussed. 

Challenges as opportunities: Brown acknowledges that challenges are a part of the journey. It's important to approach challenges as opportunities for growth and innovation. 

5. Partner with a solution provider like Sprinklr for streamlined efforts 

Lastly, Brown highlights the unique role that Sprinklr played in streamlining social media efforts across remote teams.  

Focus on rapid adoption and growth: Brown draws attention to the remarkable increase in adoption rates, from 67% to over 90%, within a short period. This rapid adoption resembled a "hockey stick" curve, signifying the importance of quickly integrating new tools and systems into the workflow. 

Attribute success to effective systems: Brown stresses that the surge in follower growth and engagement can be directly linked to the tools and systems in use. The praise for Sprinklr comes from its ability to facilitate business growth, rather than just personal improvement. 
 
Scalability matters for any business: Brown dispels the myth that Sprinklr's benefits are exclusive to billion-dollar companies. He even suggests that “a hundred-dollar company could benefit significantly.” Sprinklr's value scales with a business's growth, making it a versatile tool for companies of all sizes. 

Sprinklr's universal applicability: One of the standout features of Sprinklr, as Brown points out, is its universal applicability. It caters to businesses at any stage of development. Whether you're a startup or a well-established corporation, Sprinklr has something to offer in terms of streamlining social media efforts. 

Growth-centric mentality: Brown's mention of "growing a business, not a person" underscores the importance of tools and systems that can match a company's ambitions. The success story of Hibbet and City Gear serves as a testament to how Sprinklr's growth-oriented approach aligns perfectly with organizational goals. 

Connecting the dots 
Building a consistent brand experience through distributed teams involves starting at the local level for authenticity, driving technology adoption, harnessing user-generated content, making training fun and adopting with the right tools like Sprinklr. These steps not only ensure brand consistency but also foster growth and customer engagement, regardless of the size of the business. 

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