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Balancing the Scales of a Globalization & Localization Marketing Approach

Brands are always assessing new marketing approaches to expand their reach and permeate new markets. One to strongly consider is a balanced approach focusing on the tenants of both marketing globalization and marketing localization. Approaching global marketing with a local lens might sound counterintuitive, but it can actually greatly benefit brands in the long-run. In fact, making a brand relatable to various, specific audience targets (localization) while still maintaining a holistic and all-encompassing brand concept (globalization) is the holy grail for marketers. Look no further than the “Share a Coke with…” campaign from Coca-Cola as an example of this. By thinking and planning globally while adapting and executing locally, brands can amplify their influence across different geographies while ensuring brand consistency remains intact.

What It Means to Be a Global Brand

Global brands draw much of their power from connecting communities across drastically different demographics through common values or universal human truths. It’s this shared appeal, regardless of ethnicity, nationality, or personal persuasion, that allows a truly global brand to link consumers to a singular, unified mission statement. A brand’s influence can extend far beyond its own efforts if it establishes a great experience or builds trust with its customers and communities. 

Now more than ever, brands rely on these communities and groundswell movements like social media, review sites, peer recommendations, and reputable subject matter experts to build credibility and engage their customer base. In essence, a brand’s engaged customers thus transform into brand ambassadors and utilize digital platforms to spread a brand’s message and reach even further. For brands looking to take that first global-facing step, dialing in on a target audience by developing a comprehensive audience persona is critical.  When a brand knows exactly who they’re speaking to, the needs of those people, and how they can fulfill those needs, they can then easily turn someone from a prospect into a customer and an adopter into a full-fledged brand advocate.

Once a brand establishes that connection with their audience, it’s important to maintain it and provide the same brand experience to each customer no matter who or where they are. The foundation to that is a rock-solid brand identity that is upheld across every market and touchpoint. This level of brand consistency can be accomplished by reinforcing the identity and mission of the brand in every piece of collateral it puts out and making sure it’s always relevant to the audience which it serves. It’s the reason millions of people can look at the image of a white mermaid in a green circle and know it’s Starbucks or hear the phrase “have it your way” and know it’s Burger King.

Appeal to Untapped Global Markets with Localization Tactics

Penetrating new markets across the world should happen at a hyperlocal level specific to that area. When it comes to marketing localization, it’s essentially a subset of personalization. A brand would be hard pressed to find an instance where making their experience more personalized to an individual, group, or community/locale is detrimental. For brands looking to tap into new markets around the world, or simply ensure they remain relevant in a given area, the focus should be on connecting individuals and communities with criteria that are unique to a specific localized market. It’s all about meeting the individualized needs of an audience in a given area while still retaining the overall purpose and perception of the brand as a whole. After all, the crucial component of any successful localized marketing strategy is a regional understanding of that audience and landscape. 

One way to go about gaining that understanding is to perform in-depth market research and collect information in a given area around brand perception. This can help brands understand why a customer or client chooses them over someone else, highlighting both key differentiators and competitor gaps/weaknesses to fill. From there, simply scaling that down to a local level to speak more persuasively to a specific audience can greatly help a brand break into a new market. On a more executional front, brands could consider employing local marketing automation for faster, more efficient geo-specific targeting once that nuanced message is solidified.

Balancing the Scales in Action

To get a better understanding of brands who have effectively expanded more globally through localized execution, look no further than REI’s marketing endeavors. The overarching theme or identity of REI’s brand is to get people active outside. Each of their locations accomplishes this mission by creating programs that meet the needs of the members of that region at a hyperlocal level. Not only does this strategy emphasize global concepts and principles such as fitness, exercise, and the outdoors, but it also enables each of their local branches to reinforce their vision with specific community interests and maintain brand consistency to boot.

Another example is global fast food chain McDonald’s. Operating in 118 countries and with a slogan (“I’m lovin’ it”) and logo (two golden arches) that are instantly recognizable, McDonald’s is the true definition of a global brand. But it didn’t get to where it is today by not boiling it’s marketing down to a more micro level. Case in point, this brand predominantly known as a burger chain operates in India of all places, where the cow is a sacred, religious symbol. Instead of avoiding that large, influential market altogether, McDonald’s adapted its approach while still maintaining its brand and opened meat-free restaurants across the country. This proved that the McDonald’s brand stretches far beyond one product offering.

Maintaining the Global-Local Balance

At the end of the day, the most successful brands deploy big picture marketing initiatives that prioritize overall scale and footprint. Many facets of these campaigns are executed at a local level and constantly adapt in order to appeal to specific target audiences. What results is increased local market penetration and greater expansion of global brand awareness and perception. Maintaining this balance is no easy feat, but luckily there are tools and solutions available to help. Discover how a brand management tool can help establish, maintain, and protect brand identity and consistency while offering greater business intelligence by exploring MarcomCentral’s custom solution here.

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