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9 Brand Professionals' Hacks for Cross-Functional Collaboration

Updated 3 months ago by Oskar Duberg

Branding is quickly becoming the world's most important business tool – but it's is also becoming increasingly complex. Discover the solutions that leading brand professionals found to improve internal and external brand collaboration.

Cross-functional collaboration is just a complicated way to say you’re bringing people together from different departments – and sometimes different companies – to work toward a common goal. And while cross-functional collaboration may be the current “it” business strategy, this method is the way companies have built and promoted brands for decades.

Since the golden age of advertising in the 1960s, companies have partnered with outside agencies to help develop their brands. And within agencies, experts from different departments, such as account management, strategy, creative, and media, have worked together to develop campaigns that promote these brands to the world.

But building brands has become more complicated than ever. And there are few resources that discuss everyday issues that branding professionals encounter – like blowing the project timeline and budget because of miscommunication – and what they can do to resolve these problems.

That’s why we created 9 Brand Professionals’ Hacks for Cross-Functional Collaboration. This ebook is designed to help brand, marketing, design, and development professionals discover solutions to improve internal and external collaboration and create brand campaigns that get results.

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Why Brand Building Has Gotten More Complex

While cross-functional collaboration is an essential part of brand-building, it’s become harder to do.

One reason is that companies have gotten bigger. Today, more people (39.2%) work for a large or very large company, with 2,500-10,000+ employees, than for midsize (26.5%) or small companies (34.3%). As a result, their coworkers aren’t just in different departments – they’re often based in different offices and cities. And with more people and more far-flung teams come more collaboration challenges.

Technology such as online video, smartphones, and social media have also added more avenues for communicating with target audiences, which has lead to the creation of new departments. Now, developing a new brand campaign often requires collaboration between a company’s in-house agency; other departments, such as communications, social media, and web; and multiple external partners.

What You’ll Find Inside

In this ebook, you’ll learn hacks from seasoned brand professionals at companies such as Live Nation, HanesBrands, and Formlabs, and from pros at agencies, including BBDO, WPP, and DesignStudio. They come from different specialties, such as branding, marketing, design, and creative, and they discuss their cross-functional challenges and share their most effective solutions.

For example, what would you do if you had only five hours to rewrite a commercial script while on a set, because key stakeholders didn’t agree with the campaign direction?

Or how would you resolve the issue if department silos kept increasing your costs and delaying your project timelines?

Below, you’ll find the cross-functional collaboration challenges that our brand professionals identified, and you’ll learn how their hacks improved results.

1. Cross-Functional Collaboration Challenge: Key Stakeholders Don’t Agree on Campaign Direction

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At the beginning of a new marketing campaign, brand leaders and other executive decision-makers come in to approve the strategy and sign off on a budget. Then, they often disappear until the project’s later stages, when the campaign is near completion.

But when key stakeholders aren’t involved throughout the process, there is a risk that their expectations won’t align with the final product. As two of our brand professionals learned, this can cause project delays, additional work, or scrambling to keep things on track.

Laura McWhorter, a brand director at entertainment company Live Nation, and Shane Pedersen, client services director at creative agency DesignStudio, share their hacks for improving collaboration with key stakeholders.

In this chapter, you’ll hear how their collaboration hacks

  • improved productivity,
  • made feedback more constructive, and
  • kept projects on schedule and on budget.

2. Cross-Functional Collaboration Challenge: Limited Flow of Information Across Departments

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Working on a new campaign requires successful collaboration across many departments, such as branding, marketing, creative, and web. This can be difficult because of the silo effect, a term that describes a lack of information flow between an organization’s departments or groups.

For example, one of our brand professionals, Ashley Marshall, needed to find a way to free up time for her team to collaborate earlier in the project timeline. As the associate creative director at Formlabs, a leading 3D-printing company, she knew that including creative earlier in the process would improve the brand’s overall output:

“As a member of the in-house creative team at Formlabs, one of our main challenges is making the time for proper collaboration with other internal teams. In an effort to minimize head count, the creative team is often left out of early planning meetings, the sentiment being ‘the creative team is too busy to be involved with everything.”

In this chapter, brand professionals will share their solutions for overcoming department silos that

  • increased production efficiency,
  • made work quality more consistent, and
  • reduced redundant work.

3. Cross-Functional Collaboration Challenge: Improving Communication with Remote Teams & External Partners

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If figurative department boundaries create collaboration issues, it becomes only more complex when working with far-flung remote teams or external partners. When separated by geography, you lack the convenience of popping into someone’s office to ask a question or schedule a quick in-person meeting to discuss a project’s status.

In this chapter, three brand professionals share their challenges when working with distributed teams. Seton McGowan, marketing manager at Hanesbrands; Morena Simatic, VP of marketing and growth at OptimoRoute; and Amanda Morgan, senior marketing manager at Vyond, share advice on improving collaboration with remote and external teams that

  • made communication faster and more efficient,
  • reduced errors and miscommunication, and
  • kept projects on track.

4. Cross-Functional Collaboration Challenge: Undefined Roles & Responsibilities

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When it comes to successful collaboration, it’s important that all teammates understand their roles. When there is uncertainty about project responsibilities, you can end up with two possible outcomes: teammates either take on too much, duplicating efforts, or they don’t take on enough and end up expecting someone else to complete specific tasks.

Such was the case for Jack Shonkwiler, director of brand and digital marketing for PandaDoc, who found that fast-moving projects caused certain teammates to take on more than their share of a task:

“This could be someone writing content entirely or creating their own mock-up. Ultimately, a content or brand team will have to redo this work. This can create misalignment on the final product and cause a project to lose its momentum.”

In this chapter, brand professionals share their experiences with projects with role uncertainty and offer solutions to solve the problem that resulted in

  • less redundant work,
  • improved project momentum, and
  • greater quality of output.

Download Our Ebook to Improve Cross-Functional Collaboration for Your Brand

If you’re ready to learn how your brand team can overcome many common cross-functional collaboration challenges and find solutions that improve communication, save time, reduce costs and improve output, download 9 Brand Professionals’ Hacks for Cross-Functional Collaboration today.

Oskar Duberg

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