How Visionary Marketers Are Building Their Brands: Global brands, local culture

March 31, 2010

Where are the leading-edge ideas in marketing? Over the last 12 months, we’ve gone on the road to find out. In addition to learning from our clients, we’ve been spending time with visionary marketers at leadership forums in places like London, Las Vegas, Moscow, Mumbai, Miami and even midtown Manhattan. From our wide-ranging travels, we’ve been able to discern several key trends that matter to marketers in every industry and every corner of the world. Each installment of this ongoing series will highlight one trend and its implications for you. We look forward to your commentary.

The myth behind global brands: why local culture still matters

What we’re hearing:
You can have a global brand, but you need to make sure you localize it. Many companies are able to take a brand campaign or tagline and run with it worldwide; however, they find that the same creative or messaging is not always effectual or appropriate in every country. A commercial that features young love in one country may be better suited as family values in another country.

McDonald's: One global ad campaign featuring local twists
Matt Biespiel, Sr. Director, Global Brand Development at McDonald’s Corporation, feels the challenges of managing such an iconic brand globally. At a recent conference, Matt talked about how property design and architecture were changed to reflect local culture, leading to increased foot traffic in the stores. He also described rolling out the “i’m lovin it” campaign worldwide. While the campaign is used in every country, each TV spot has a decidedly different approach. In Egypt the ad features a couple in love, with a funny twist: In Australia the ad portrays a family outing: And in Korea the ad shows how the kid in all of us can come out: These three decidedly different ads all support the same brand campaign.

Implications for you

  1. Marketing globally doesn't mean simply translating your communications materials to another language.

  2. Make sure the tone of voice and messaging in your collateral, video and Web sites support language nuances and traits of the regions you are trying to reach.

  3. In-country translation and in-country market research and testing are valuable tools to ensure you are reaching your audience.

  4. Ask your vendors and agencies if they have true global experience. Ask for samples of previous work and share that work with business partners in the targeted region to see if they agree.

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