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The Importance of Global Brand Strategy

15 Aug, 2017 By: Lindsey Carnett, Marketing Maven PR

Communications strategy for domestic and international markets.

Your direct-to-consumer product is selling well in the United States. Congratulations! Now it’s time to add a revenue channel by selling in foreign markets.

International pricing? Check. A DRTV spot that can be translated? Check. A minimum order quantity? Check. But what about maintaining the integrity of the brand overseas?

A pitfall of this cash-positive revenue stream is that many product manufacturers are so eager to get the international sale with a favorable “money-upfront” payment structure that they remind themselves that the marketing responsibility sits with the international distributor. After receiving payment for goods, the manufacturer often forgets to take ownership of the global brand presence. From logo to product images to messaging and responsiveness via social media, the worldwide web makes global marketing standards costly to neglect.

Recent research from Wells Fargo suggests that 81 percent of American companies expect their international business activity to increase in the next year, with expectations of an increase in international revenue rising to 68 percent.

Factors such as global diversity in the C-suite make a business more likely to optimize global growth, moving away from the fear of risk and placing value on working with partners and stakeholders to seize international opportunities.

Digital and Media Approach: Set Global Brand Guidelines

Brands should be aware of the media landscape in a foreign market and – in particular – the dominance of digital and hyper-local outlets. Marketers should consider being inventive with their social media, involving local stakeholders to collaborate on videos and mobile content, and use niche media to target their messages alongside more traditional communication strategies.

Brands should also consider tailoring landing pages to location, using local imagery and local people as part of their campaigns. The same strategy also works well for social media pages – using pages for regional markets effectively to capitalize on growth and customers.

The Johnnie Walker “Keep Walking” campaign is a good example of a global campaign with a local feel, with the marketer using culturally relevant quotes to connect with consumers across many global markets, and turn the brand into one that is globally recognized.

Think Global, Act Local

Driving international revenue is dependent on global marketing and localization. To achieve international brand growth, companies must push forward their strategy with the help of executives in influential positions, and reach and inspire international customers with innovative ideas to collectively drive their international revenues.

The move from an international communications strategy to something niche and localized is an attractive prospect for brands. Success in one market might not be directly translating into success in another country, putting the spotlight on an untapped demand for localized content. Similarly, a new audience closer to home may have been identified by marketers, raising the question of how to effectively reach them.

Customers are more digitally savvy and globally connected than ever before. Positioning globally relevant content is particularly important and, sometimes, these campaigns can miss out on the true individuality of local markets.

Marketers need to take care with the political, social, and cultural meanings of their locations, as well as pay particular attention to the translation of slogans and the language barrier. Marketers should collaborate with local influencers to overcome these potential problems, ensuring that their global campaigns have a local and geographically specific feel.

Keys to Scaling Globally

To transfer a successful local campaign to one on a global scale, marketers need to ensure consistency across all aspects of strategy. Branding and statement positioning shouldn’t be compromised, and consistency of key points, unique selling proposition (USP), and messaging should be protected.

Brands should use case studies of success to show how their achievements on a local level can be transferred to a larger scale. These stories of transformation and problem solving should be included as part of the overall strategy, personalized to location in order to set a brand’s new product or service apart from competitors in the market.

Whatever the reason, the demand for localized coverage has never been greater. A recent survey found that 79 percent of customers now expect personalization from brands – and 66 percent of them welcome email marketing that targets them based on previous actions. This provides great opportunities for brands that want to go local on a global scale.

As with any change in communications direction, the shift should be approached with great detail. It’s not simply about taking a blueprint and making it fit a new situation – it’s about tailoring success to target markets.

Hybrid Teams

Global and local teams need to come together to make a campaign a success. A good working relationship should be in place, with key strategy areas and objectives managed and led by individuals on the ground in relevant locations. The role of a chief communications officer is to manage reputational issues and the overall strategy of the campaign, guiding direction in a complex consumer landscape. It is only with this structure that brands can get an honest feel about what is working and what the needs of their target customers are.

The manufacturer must take the responsibility to protect its brand: from mission, vision, and values to the USPs of each product, the graphics, messaging, customer service response times, level of professionalism, and performance against brand promise must not be neglected. This means having detailed discussions with international distributors upfront. Will they be allowed to have social media accounts for the brand? What worked best for publicity in the United States? How will the international market react to the name, the meaning, and the product promise so you can protect your global digital footprint as your distribution grows?

A hybrid team, focused on identifying cultural authenticity through brand consistency, is key to a campaign’s success. In order to meet the demand for localized content, marketers should work with well-known influencers, creating content that appeals to consumers on a personalized level but – at the same time – connects with our wider world. This approach will help brands to gain international brand coverage and drive commercial success.

Lindsey Carnett is CEO and president of Marketing Maven, a bicoastal integrated communications agency with international clients accounting for 30 percent of its customer base. She started her career as marketing director for a Scandinavian bioscience company. She is a member of the DRMA Education Committee and can be reached at

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