Sharing expertise globally

Partilhado por: Charles Doyle
Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, JLL

Many readers of this article will be wondering why Jones Lang LaSalle worked so hard to build up its brand – spreading into 220 cities around the world in just under two and a half centuries – and then last year suddenly shortened its name to the more succinct JLL. But if you are scratching your head on that point the chances are that your marketing background is western and traditional.

Two groups of people will not be surprised, however – digital specialists (who know that JLL is a far more adaptable name online) and the Japanese, Chinese and other Asians who struggle on the pronunciation and who have rather negative associations with western business names derived from the surnames of founders. There is also a very small third group – Scottish historians who wrote a DPhil thesis on legal corruption during the French Revolution. That is the background of (Dr) Charles Doyle who, as Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, leads a team of 450 marketing professionals as well as a research group of 350 people in the world’s second largest commercial real estate business, JLL.

“The urbanisation that is taking place in China is the biggest in human history – bigger than the Industrial Revolution in the West” he says, explaining some of global market reasons why the name change was so necessary. “For example, China will become the world’s biggest property market.” Shortening the name to JLL is more than a bow to the country which is on its way to becoming the globe’s largest economy. The accompanying use of red, enlargement of the logo symbol and dropping of the strapline are all ways of demonstrating that the business and its 60,000 staff are thinking more globally in how they present the JLL brand.

In many a traditional practices, some of the partners would have tried to block a move as fundamental as name change. But the fact that JLL is listed – on the New York Stock Exchange – is one factor why the business does take rapid change within its stride. Under the scrutiny of analysts, journalists and others who read its quarterly returns, JLL cannot afford to consider itself the private business vehicle of a small number of directors who used to be called partners. And, says the CMO: “The speed of decision-making is much faster as you are under pressure from shareholders”. The scale of operations – 4,000 research reports a year, for instance, and 5,000 pitches to back up fee revenues of US$4.7b in 2014 – is such that any marketing mistakes could be extremely expensive.

It would be hard to accuse the marketing function of making errors right now. JLL had its best year ever in 2014, is acquiring new businesses at the rate of ten per annum, is located in 80 countries, carried out 33,000 landlord and tenants transactions in the 12 months to December and has a broader range of services than ever before. It appears to be a clear leader in the areas it focuses on – doing so much on content marketing, for instance, that it could qualify as a publishing house in its own right.

Leading the JLL marketing team for eight years (after stints at Clifford Chance and Accenture), Charles Doyle is totally clear about his approach. “I always seek high strategic involvement for marketing,” he says. Areas such as PR or communications are not separate functions from marketing; in fact, the opposite occurs – as marketing is proactive in many fields that marketers at other firms might ignore. So marketing – charged with reputation management – is also engaged in promoting JLL’s exceptional ethical standards. “This is an industry that is very susceptible to local malpractice in some parts of the world,” says the CMO, warning of the dangers.

Similarly, Charles Doyle can talk in detail about a concept – culture – which remains nebulous in many businesses. JLL claimed in its 2014 annual report that its culture gives it ‘a clear differentiator within our industry’. Collaboration has become a part of that equation, says the CMO and is far more than just a nice word. “For globalisation, you must share expertise in order to make yourself more efficient,” he says. Playing its strategic role, the marketing team helps strengthen the JLL culture by “looking for common themes” and so helping individuals understand the importance of the bonds they have with colleagues.

The trait which Charles Doyle pulls out as being closest to the core of the JLL culture is its ability to adapt. Proof that it excels here comes from its 2014 figures opening three new office (Lagos, Nanjing and Kuala Lumpur) and new businesses in Sweden, Spain, the Pacific and seven other locations. If JLL could not adapt to different cultures, it might fall over. Again showing the strategic centrality of marketing, the CMO says: “Part of the role of marketing is to help people get through change.”

Access the full article by PM Forum here.

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