Consumer Goods / Diageo - Global


Process consulting, capability development, in-house facilitator development,  large scale learning events, global program delivery


Consumer goods, beverages



The Task:

Two years after the merger between Grand Metropolitan and United Distillers the Board of Diageo recognized the need for fresh synergies throughout the business. This merger created the largest branded drinks company in the world. The Board had made huge savings as a result of overhead reductions after the merger, but there was little of the expected growth from the creation of the new company.

It was recognized that the full potential of the leverage of the global brands now owned by the entity was not being realized. The board pulled out six top marketers from the business, to benchmark best brand building practices globally. 

This team developed these brand-building practices into a series of manuals called the Diageo Way of Brand Building (DWBB). The team identified the need to promulgate the DWBB throughout the entire marketing and sales organization, and at the same recognized that the way was to develop a framework and build skills and capabilities in order to obtain the desired results.

Aims for the program:

  • To shift from a finance-driven to a consumer-led organization.

  • To develop organization wide capabilities and processes that would deliver organic growth, top-line and bottom-line.

  • To develop and implement a Diageo way of working that encourages consumer insight, innovation and risk-taking.

  • To increase efficiency and effectiveness through a common marketing process, a common language and measurable capabilities.

The Solution:

Coverdale was invited in order to advise on how to embed the DWBB deeply across the entire organization and how to build the required capabilities.

The end result of Coverdale's solutions is a set of experiential modules and a systematic approach developed jointly with Diageo's marketing team. 

Coverdale did this by:

  • Developing a new vision for DWBB including detailed aims and required capabilities jointly with the marketing team. This also resulted in pulling together the existing processes into one corporate approach.

  • During the development phase a, "war room", was set up where the designing and discussion could take place in an open setting. It was a genuine team effort, described later as, "open, creative, fun and provocative".

  • An essential part of this work was to develop a comprehensive and clear program on how to roll out the new processes across the global organization. The process needed to stimulate momentum for further development of skills and capabilities that are needed to gain full commitment and successfully implement the new DWBB.

Coverdale recommended and executed a four-step program following the development of the framework:

  • Running an initial pilot for a select group of participants from various levels and functions of the organization. Review results and content; modify the program prior to a second pilot.

  • Delivering a second pilot for the Executive Committees of all operating companies. This included the group's Executive team and group CEO. 

  • Coverdale then trained over 500 Diageo senior marketers in multi-day workshops to co-deliver the learning events with experienced Coverdale consultants. 

  • Coverdale also developed facilitator manuals, so that as part of the overall strategy Coverdale remained part of the overall project for two years, with a phased and gradual withdrawal and handover to the client. At the end of this process the DWBB in-house facilitator team took over the entire delivery and ongoing revision process.

The Outcome:

The program continues to run after nine years and over 6,000 people including Diageo's external suppliers such as advertising agencies and commercial partners have participated. The CEO communicated to the entire organization that DWBB is his "(...) culture change program for the organization to make it consumer-led and bottom-line driven."

Today senior managers can easily move around between for example Guinness and the spirit business or to other countries without difficulty based on a common language and approach.  In global brands like Johnnie Walker people found that ‚ "Wherever I go in the world, people understand".

Diageo is a shining example for a successful global integration of several businesses and cultures after a merger.