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Are You Ready To Go GloCal?

Updated: May 30

The term glocalisation has been battered around for a while. The idea that thinking globally by acting locally is key to brand success, has propelled marketers to fine-tune their strategies to ensure they make the most out of the global market.

From Coca-Cola scrapping its local UK marketing director in favour of a more regional strategy, to KFC serving porridge for breakfast and Peking Duck burgers for lunch in Shanghai; innovative marketers are no longer seeing global and local as the two ends of a dichotomous spectrum, but instead they understand that a hybrid of global and local is not only possible, but the most profitable outcome.

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Since April 2010, when Forrester Research’s Steve Noble called for companies to “create an adaptive global organisation” to deal with post-recession pressures, a new generation of global brands has emerged. These brands understand that carving out a good market share requires more than just an in-depth understanding and adaptation to local tastes, attitudes and values. The future of going glocal requires brand strategies that involve borderless marketing, internal hubs, internal “glocal structuring”, consumer co-creation and a consistent brand culture and brand promise.

Below outlines the strategies companies need to understand the future of glocal branding. Taking from my teaching materials from the ‘Strategic Leadership in Global Markets’ Program, I seek to provide an insight for companies wanting to go and grow global. The following provides a review of the future of 'glocal branding' demonstrating that one core element lies with a company’s capacity to deliver borderless marketing.

Borderless Marketing

When a company is developing a global campaign they need to factor in the principle that digital doesn’t respect boarders. The plethora of digital platforms available to consumers such as social media, and the constant international connectivity of ‘friends’, has meant that content moves across boarders and brand stories cross over internationally at a click of a button. This new connectivity should, therefore, affect how businesses view their brand communications in the markets in which they serve.

Previously a brand could get away with seeing one market as third or second tier and another as their priority, but today this tier structuring no longer applies. As such all markets should be treated equally. A case in point; if a global brand operating in Rwanda delivers a communication message that is misinterpreted and causes offence on Facebook or Twitter, within seconds this can affect the brand in London, Tokyo and New York. As a result the question this leaves brand guardians asking is how do we get a single content story that works across all of our markets?

The solution is three fold:

Firstly, build a strong consistent brand culture and brand promise. In this borderless marketing world, it is more important than ever before that your brand reflects your culture rather than your guidelines. When you review Coca-Cola’s distinctive tone of voice, it is just as vibrant and effervescent in Spanish as it is in English, Dutch, Cantonese and Twi. The expression of the brand is consistent and extremely strong. Whilst the illustration of that expression may change (different ethnic profiling, language use etc) the brand voice remains the same. The culture of the organisation is congruent irrespective of which office around the world you happen to visit. The internal brand communication messages are resonating off of one theme sheet. The consumer experience is seamless, both on and offline

Secondly, move away from division to cohesion. Whilst marketing is principally about the segmentation of consumers, today marketers need to go beyond this thinking. Instead of just looking for what divides consumers up, they should be looking at what unites them. Nike’s 2014 World Cup ‘Winner Stays’ campaign is a classic example of borderless marketing. Featuring world class footballers from around the globe, the funny ad weaves them into one story united by one thing – Nike. It’s a perfect example of a transnational, not multinational, brand campaign.

Finally, make consumers your co-creators. Social media has helped to create the perfect environment for consumer engagement and brand growth. Consumers are expressing opinions, sharing posts and seeking information on a second by second basis, and they are doing it globally. The key for marketers is to ensure they embrace the fluidity of social media and utilise it to maximise consumer engagement and ultimately drive sales. To achieve this, brand guardians should make their consumers co-creators of the brand expression, communication and campaigns. The brands that succeed are the ones who partner with their consumers, who do not seek perfection, but leave room for their consumers to add their voice. As Scott Cook, co-founder of Intuit suggests “A brand is no longer what we tell consumers it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is”.

This article is written by - Kubi Springer


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