Global connectivity presents an interesting shift in how we think about presenting a global brand.
Global companies like Safeguard Global need to demonstrate our reach, yet we also have to be sensitive to local audiences and their customs, which influence how we communicate. Somewhere in the balance is where we find our brand story.
As a global CMO, I keep these five rules at the forefront:
1. Have your brand figured out
If your organization isn’t clear and aligned on your brand purpose, values, mission and positioning, stop reading and start figuring them out immediately—the rest of the points won’t matter if you don’t have a strong brand foundation.
2. Be authentic
You don’t just have to know your brand values; you also have to stay true to them in any market.
A good example of a company whose brand authenticity is part of its success is Adidas. Diversity is a stated guiding principle for Adidas, one that very specifically enables its global brand position.
For the Super Bowl this year, it ran a commercial with a decidedly global feel—a bold move for America’s biggest sporting event.
But with that commercial, Adidas is adhering to its value of diversity, and it is achieving results: Two of its shoes are in the top 10 best-selling athletic shoes in the U.S. Admittedly, the U.S. market has more global awareness than ever before, but a company shouldn’t feel the need to shed values to play in a particular market.
3. Manage your brand top-down
Your values are immovable, regardless of the region. Be sure to delineate between values and messaging: Values stay consistent, but messaging can be flexible based on audiences and goals.
Everything you do should reflect your values, regardless of the message you are trying to communicate.
4. And… manage your brand bottom-up
To be serious about global marketing, you need local talent to interpret your brand for your market. There is no way around it.
The biggest brands in the world have made massive global marketing mistakes, like when Coca Cola suggested Chinese customers “Bite the Wax Tadpole” or when Coors translated its slogan, “Turn It Loose,” into Spanish, where it is a colloquial term for having diarrhea.
Local staff with knowledge of the colloquialisms and traditions of a particular target area can help prevent such gaffes.
5. Don’t let logistics get in the way of growth
If your organization hasn’t hired internationally before, then you will be met with resistance, I guarantee it. Finance and HR will tell you it’s going to take forever and cost a million dollars. That’s if they even know all that it entails. If they don’t, you will experience silence while they research, followed by hysteria when they learn the cost, the time involved, and risk.
But difficulty shouldn’t stand in the way of progress, especially when you are driving the growth of a global business.
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