What the world needs now: Global brands for the Global Generation

Posted on 19th Oct 2011 by Scott Goodson in Blog

What is it about being a true global brand these days? Do we still have to think global and act local? Or has the web changed all that, bringing the world together more than ever before?

Globalization has always been something that the advertising industry has struggled with. In the past, the main role of a global agency has been to manage execution across borders. Today the significant opportunity in brand building is to maximize one idea across the globe, to create an inspirational rallying cry for a global consumer movement.

It isn’t easy to communicate across different cultures and countries while having one overall brand that really makes an impact.

Coke’s edge is its global brand. It has always done well, building strong relationships with people in multiple countries, based on one idea. It understands that globally, you have to build a brand that has its core values at the very heart whilst locally – you have to tailor your marketing accordingly. See Coke ads in Germany or in Sweden, Dubai or Downtown New York – and its the same global idea.

Few brands act this way. Corporate culture, cultural differences, and different usage habits have stopped many a brand from realizing their global potential. There always seems to be a reason why a brand shouldn’t have one idea around the world.

Since the Internet overtook our lives, this ‘global against local’ way of advertising is becoming increasingly difficult for brands. Like never before, people are communicating and engaging with the entire world. Borders and boundaries have ceased to exist as people tweet, blog and chat online in real-time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week with just about every country on the planet.

Facebook, Google, Apple, technology, the web — the frontier is opening up for global brand building. If you can build brands that understand this new media landscape, you’ll have the whole world in your hands.

Swedish fashion company H&M is one brand that’s getting it right in a digital age. Because of the web, it doesn’t see the advertising industry as highly localized anymore. It carries out global campaigns that span multiple countries, languages and cultures. And it works well for them. Everything from their huge outdoor boards to their website carries the same marketing messages, making the same clever impact. Some say that fashion, luxury or retail brands have it easier when it comes to building a global brand.

Recently, Heineken launched an ambitious new global platform called ‘Open your world’ and is executing truly global campaigns for the very first time. As expected, it created adverts for television and cinemas but also spent millions of dollars to advertize with Google and Facebook. A large proportion of its target market is online, so it made complete sense to go down the social media route with a globally unifying campaign… something that everyone – no matter where they’re from or where they’re based – can identify with.

The opportunity for global brands is new markets where consumer demand is exploding such as Brazil, Dubai, Indonesia, Nigeria, Russia, Vietnam and all points in between. The global brand hits the ground faster and makes an impact harder because it’s figured out its global idea before it enters markets. And more often than not, the local consumers have already heard or seen the brand idea on YouTube.

As marketers see more brands globalizing and as economics pushes companies to think about brand building in a smarter, more efficient and more universal way– global brand building will rise in importance.

Here is a quote from Massimo F. d’Amore , Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo Beverages Americas, reinforcing this point in a recent article from Ad Age:

“[Before] it was more of a global coordination as opposed to a global management,” Mr. d’Amore said. “Technology, both social networks and mobile platforms, have created this global generation. We really want to connect our global brands with the global generation, and the best way to do that is with global management.”

Yet as the world becomes increasingly interconnected and as more and more consumers engage with brands, brand building could take on another dimension. The winning formula seems to be a brand wrapped in a movement, which can transcend geography and language, and which instils values and a way of living that is simple, inspiring and easy to align with.

H&M, Heineken, Apple and Coke know this and spend loads of dollars every year, ensuring we never forget them.

Today, building successful global brands is about thinking globally. It’s about understanding your company’s core culture and values and communicating that in everything you do. It’s where Movement Marketing comes into play. No longer are we throwing out one-way, localized messages with one global look and feel. Today, the digital revolution is about getting people to love your brand, no matter where they are in the world.

One thing is certain; it’s not easy respecting so many different cultures when Facebook has brought everyone together. But if you can get it right, you’ll become one of the elite global brands that everyone wants to buy in to.

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