Going global and working local: How to balance both

A brand playing in multiple countries has to carefully consider the balance between global consistency and local flexibility as it develops its overall strategy. At first sight, capturing the benefits of both global integration and local responsiveness would appear the obvious strategic choice—think global, act local. The significant costs and complexity of managing such a ‘glocal’ approach through the typical global matrix structure, however, makes practical success difficult. The reality is that many glocal branding attempts tend to be influenced more by global pressures than by true local relevance, or ultimately find that greater local oversight is required, negating some of the benefits of global integration.

 

The balance between local and global must be thought of as a spectrum that can vary across different parts of the brand’s strategy (from visual identity to communication content to product development/customization). That variance must be carefully tailored both to the product and brand itself, while always keeping a strong and consistent brand message.

Global brand strategy

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A first foray into the global market is often done most smoothly with a strong centralized approach that has very little local tailoring. This international strategy allows brands to get a foothold in a new market, benefiting from scale benefits and global division of labor while keeping the process relatively simple.As brands become more locally integrated, they can become more responsive to local needs in an informed and more focused fashion. This must be done carefully and without eroding the overall meaning of the brand. It’s a delicate balance, and one best achieved with a long-term and well-considered strategic plan, including an appropriate global brand management organization structure to govern and balance global consistency and local flexibility. 

As you consider your marketing strategy going forward, how will you respond to local concerns while keeping your global message consistent?

 

Selected sources:

  1. Bailey, C., Knepler, B., Vanlombeek, P., (2015), “Creating flexible global brands in federated organisations: A case study from a global not-for-profit”, The Journal of Brand Strategy Vol. 3, No. 4, 350–356 Winter 2014–15.