Globalisation + Branding: Think Global, Execute Local.
It’s no secret that the digital age is making it easier than ever for brands to ‘go global’. But globalisation is a double-edged sword.
Between digital and social channels that cheaply and immediately connect to audiences across the globe, and ecommerce platforms that offer plug-and-play purchase options in every market, new and established businesses can instantly start engaging with new customers from Australia to Austria. As a result, startups are scaling faster than ever before
Scalable startups are on a trajectory for a billion dollar market cap — Steve Blank: Born Global or Die Local and are more or less taking over the world. ” … After all, capturing a significant, even dominant share of the world market more or less straight out of the box is clearly possible. It has been crucial for the internet’s biggest successes: Amazon (About half of America’s book market, more than that in e-books); Alibaba (about 80% of e-commerce in China); Facebook (which claims 1.3 billion active members); and Google (68% of online searches in America, more than 90% in Europe).” — The Economist: Everybody wants to rule the world
However, these realities have also resulted in prevailing suppositions that the world has become (or is on its way to becoming) a homogeneous and heterogeneous (read: single) market.
Frankly, this view is far too simplistic, and needs to be addressed. Because Globalisation is a double-edged sword.
On the one edge:
Globalisation holds that increased communication technologies allow for increased levels of cultural integration: making the world flatter, and to a certain extent standardising cultural and social norms.
In researching how to bring www.frankbody.com — a particularly Australian brand — to a global audience, we found that the beauty industry has been progressively able to capitalise on this, as the western world flocks towards a ‘universal’ beauty, less governed by cultural differences.
Today globalisation is changing the beauty industry again; its impact can be seen in a range of competing strategies. Global brands have swept into China, Russia, and India, but at the same time, these brands are having to respond to a far greater diversity of cultures and lifestyles as new markets are opened up worldwide. In the twenty-first century, beauty is again being reimagined anew. This means that using social platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook (as a paid channel, obviously) allows us to create a more standardised content strategy, as the world gets used to looking beyond their own cultural norms. Broadly, brand messages can remain largely consistent, which reduces advertising costs (i.e. brands can keep creative in-house and only need to engage local media buyers). Globalisation theory holds that increased communication technologies have allowed increased levels of cultural integration. As a sociological institution, the media plays a vital role in socialising audiences. — Race and Beauty, A Comparison of Culture.
On the other (edge), market characteristics can vary, and not understanding the nuances of each market can mean not understanding the role your brand plays in local lives. In the beauty industry, for instance, [Source] highlights that the Australian beauty customer is looking to buy smart, with a focus on margins, discounts, and a hero product they can identify with (and ultimately boast about.) In the UK, successful brands are creating new products and entirely new categories as consumers are demanding innovation and novelty. And in the US, where innovation is similarly important, consumers are responding most obviously to messages of health- and lifestyle-consciousness.
These differences may be subtle, but it’s getting them right that separates the wheat from the chaff. Look at Lushwww.lush.com.au for example. Globally, their brand centres (among other things) around the notion of ‘freshness’. Locally, however, they’ve created different products from the seasonal and local ingredients within each market (or, at the least, say they do.) This gives them the ability to focus their marketing on local produce, local suppliers and, without stretching too much, Lush Charity Pot Partners — Supporting those who work tirelessly to make the world a better place for people, animals and the environment. .
A globally-applicable concept, applied with local nuance.
How do you find these broad ideas which provide your brand with direction and your business with the flexibility to expand into subtly distinct markets? What does this mean for global vs local products? How does this affect the content you produce, and on what channels? Where do individual advertising campaigns fit into all of this? How does this affect UX? And how much should you pivot on your core product/proposition/brand for each new market?
These questions are exactly what we set out to answer when start talking (albeit often wankerishly) about Brand Strategy. It’s not only determining these questions, but fundamentally understanding what it is that makes your business tick, that unlocks the answers to these questions. Only getting a 360 degree picture — of your market, your audience, your competitors, your alternatives, but also your stakeholders, your employees and your product/service — can you distill an idea so simultaneously simple and broad, yet nuanced and succinct, that it can carry your identity, your purpose and your message across different markets and cultures.
We’ll be attempting to unpack the fluff and buzzwordery almost certainly doomed to forever surround strategy in the next few weeks, and show how it tangibly connects everything together. Let us know if you have any particular questions or bugbears surrounding this (typically convoluted) issue.