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A Better Way to Build Sustainable Global Brand

3/20/2020 Anant Goel

Our world is changing rapidly and the rate of change is in direct relationship to the rate of global warming, adoption of technology, Internet, and Web 2.0.

Everything with a ‘C’, we call it global Cs, is changing our world and affecting the way we build and manage brands…

  • Climate
  • Community
  • Currency
  • Communications
  • Competition
  • Corporate Citizenship
Over the last 30 years, we approached global marketing in a single dimensional mode of the “global standardization” where the focus was on global brand homogeneity. More recently, the marketers recognized the regional/local aspect of the global markets and embraced the second dimension of “Think globally, act locally” mode where the center creates the strategy and the regions are responsible for merely executing the direction they receive from the center.  

But there is the third dimension of “collaborative personalization” where the six Cs are shaping it and the three forces─ globalization, localization and collaborative personalization─ are increasing simultaneously. The world is more connected, and the Cs are becoming more relevant beyond the regional differences; and the personalized experience cannot be ignored.

The future of your brand doesn’t lie in predicting it. It lies in shaping and changing it. Trends and forecasting are essentially irrelevant… what’s relevant is the vision, envision, and revision. The future is what we make it, not what someone says it is.

Globalization means coherence, reliability and certainty, while addressing universal truths such as hunger, family, status, performance and acceptance.  Localization means regional relevance to help brands respect variances in climate, geography, communities and neighborhoods.  Collaborative personalization defines each of us as an individual, defining who we are, what we want, and differentiating us from others.

How do we build strong brands in such a changing world and sustain our business?

What's needed is an evolution in global marketing from the global standardization approach (one dimensional model) to the "Think globally, act locally" mantra (two dimensional model) to a new approach─ one we're calling the Collaborative Personalization (three dimensional model) where the six “Cs” are addressed and embraced.

Globalization: Global Standardization

Dimension 1

In 1983, Theodore Levitt, a professor at the Harvard Business School credited with coining the term globalization, recommended a globally standardized approach.  Modern day marketers call this a one-box model, forcing the whole world into the same marketing box. The one-box model asserts that a global brand should be the same everywhere regardless of culture, language, customs and values. This creates globally centralized, standardized, homogenized marketing.

However, with all the fragmentation, segmentation and fractionalization already happening today, homogenization is hazardous for brand health and endangers future business sustainability.

Localization: Think Globally, Act Locally

Dimension 2

The two-box model is commonly referred to as "Think globally, act locally." Marketing strategies and ideas are globally generated, but the regions now have the opportunity to implement these ideas in locally relevant ways.

Unfortunately, this devolved into just another way for the center to be in control. It is a handoff model: from the central brains to the regional brawn, global thinking with regional tinkering. And the regions do not have to accept accountability, as they did not develop the ideas. Further, it creates a serious tension between the strategists at the center and the implementers in the local geographies.

Collaborative: Personalization

Dimension 3

There is a need for collaboration rather than confrontation. The Collaborative three-box model is one with shared responsibility. The three boxes allocate responsibilities properly for the central global teams and the local/regional teams. Above all, the process requires collaboration across geographies and functional silos.

Dimension Box 1: Define the brand's global mission

Since the mission is common across geographies, it is the central leadership team's responsibility, but they must respect and take into account the input of the regions.  This means the responsibilities are shared 80% globally and 20% regionally/locally.

Dimension Box 2: Define the brand marketing structure

This step presents the most difficult collaborative challenge. Responsibility is shared equally between central (global) and local teams. The brand marketing structure defines the boundaries and the global plan of action within which there is local input and freedom to execute. It is the global brand leadership's responsibility to maintain the structural integrity of marketing organization around the world and across functions.

Dimension Box 3: Bring the brand to life

It is the responsibility of the local/regional teams to create plans that are both locally relevant, and integrate input from the Cs to increase the personal connection customers will have with the brand. However, the creativity on the part of the local teams must be within the framework of the global mission from Dimension 1. In Dimension 3, responsibility is 80% regional/local and 20% global.

With the Collaborative Personalization Three-Dimension Model, local marketing members become regional thought leaders rather than mere implementers of the directions received from remote, central big thinkers. Using cross-functional, cross-geographic teams, the Collaborative Personalization Three Dimension-Model helps to define the respective leadership responsibilities of the global and local brand teams. Ultimately, the local teams know the local customers and competition best.

With this Three-Dimension marketing model, marketers can build global brands that are globally coherent as well as locally and personally relevant. And as a collaborative mindset, it helps organizations manage through the tensions that arise from global and local decision rights.

“Think global, act local” is a much-used phrase, but few companies really get it right; because it’s not just about a local language website.  It means being where your customer is, speaking to them in their own language and, crucially, having culturally relevant messages and content. 

Failing to localize properly will damage your brand. A lack of a local-language version – or a poor, culturally irrelevant translation – will be interpreted as a lack of concern for customers in that market. Understanding and delivering in a relevant, local context is therefore a key component of effective customer experience management. 

Once context (language, channel, and device) is understood and established with customers, the relationship can expand well beyond the basics of pre-sales, purchase and support.  Creating transparency and accessibility to a wide range of self-service assets encourages customers to come back for more, and keeps your organization on top of mind. Those that get it right will find that customers become mavens for your brand, helping develop and proliferate messages and content to local customer networks that you might not even know about.

Today’s global marketers are increasingly concerned with the whole customer experience, the ability to deploy fresh content across all regions simultaneously is more important than ever. According to the Aberdeen Group, companies that have managed to align marketing with customer service have seen an increase in revenue of up to 74%.

It all starts with getting the strategy right. Make sure that you have the right localization processes and systems in place and you can give your business near-instant global reach, reducing time to market for your products and messages while making sure that you are making best use of your resources for each channel and market. In today’s global-means-local world, translation and localization is too often pushed too far down into the organization, because getting it right can have a huge impact on the customer experience─ and revenue potential.

[Curated content based on excerpts from posts, blogs, media articles, and sponsored research]

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