Open Mic: Global Branding And Marketing


It’s ‘Open Mic’ night!

A chance for some quick-fire Q&A with industry experts, around a unified theme.

The theme for this round? Global Branding and Marketing… featuring eight members of the Brand2Global 2015 Advisory Board.

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Paige-WilliamsPaige Williams @paigetwilliams
Director of Global Readiness  |  Microsoft

Q –

Does offline content require the same level of global readiness as the more globally accessible online content?

A –

This question brings me to my roots of global readiness at Microsoft, where everything was an offline content world, and we needed to reinvent some of our thinking and practices to orient towards the online world.

Online content is dynamic; it is “borderless”. You need to anticipate user scenarios for both global, and local applicability.

Offline content is all about getting it right for the borders in which you are shipping.  This means a few things in terms of getting it right, and the implications of getting it wrong.  Such as:

Shelf life.  Once you ship something that will remain offline, there it lives forevermore, in all its glory, and/or, warts and all.

If you get something wrong, it will require you to first determine “how wrong” it is, whether it’s highly offensive, or simply not the right context for that market.  If you need to call the content back, it’s going to cost money, time, resources and potentially negative PR.

You need to exactly understand market expectations and requirements, some of which may be legal in nature, while others are consumer expectations.  For example, map requirements, flag sensitivities, cultural offenses, multi-lingual expectations, spelling reforms and so forth.

In today’s world of cloud services and mobile scenarios, integration of offline content with online contexts is quite likely.  Consider how access to dynamically rendered online content may impact the offline experience.   Could you offer updates, fixes or additional features to your offline content properties this way?

It’s nearly impossible to ignore that the world is ever more online, mobile, agile and dynamic.  Considering what this means for you can be an asset in your overall content strategy.

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Andreas_DurrAndreas Dürr
Chief Marketing Officer  |  BrandMaker

Q –

What do you believe are the main foundation stones for a successful global brand management system? 

A –

As products become increasingly commoditized, brand is critically important.  You have to not only establish a brand, but also put your brand into operation worldwide.  We have identified six main foundational pillars:

  1. A Web-based portal.  A brand’s marketing and communications materials must be available anywhere, at any time.
  2. Administrative rights management.  Brand managers must have the ability to restrict the access rights of individual users or groups based on roles and requirements.
  3. Guidance.  A system must offer intuitive user navigation and a menu structure that is custom-tailored to the user’s needs.
  4. Comprehensive and easily integrated resources.  In addition to clear style guides, a comprehensive system includes brand-compliant tutorials, samples, and templates that can be accessed easily.
  5. Simple adaptation of advertising materials.  Automated production of individual localized advertising materials must be accomplished within a consistent brand framework.
  6. Direct availability of materials and measures. Any brand and marketing communication is only as good as its distribution and delivery.

From planning and budgeting to creation, development and asset management, global brand management requires integrated systems in order to deliver successful results.

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lara-millmowLara Millmow @LMillmow
Communications And Customer Experience Manager  |  Virgin Care

Q –

What do you believe is the key to making a universal brand experience feel personalised to each individual customer?

A –

What makes a brand experience personalised is when your customer can feel it on a sensory level, in their own unique way.

It’s like hearing a song and remembering everything about the first time you heard it – the smell of the grass you were sitting on, how the sun glinted off the lake in front of you, the sound of the crickets in the background…  And knowing the same song evokes a very different memory or feeling to somebody else.

Brands need to recognise the importance of reaching out to their customers’ senses as that is what creates the emotional connection and makes the brand experience feel personal.  It’s why Heston Blumenthal plays the sound of waves when serving his dish ‘Sound of the Sea’ and why more and more companies are turning towards sensory marketing.  It’s the future.

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Bruno HerrmannBruno Herrmann @BHerrmann_INTL
Director of Globalization  |  The Nielsen Company

Q –

What is the number one factor to consider when selecting global suppliers and partners?

A –

For me, it is global expertise and experience.  In the digital globalization age it is hard to find and secure, yet critical to leverage.  Firstly a number of suppliers label themselves as global because they have a global online presence or some global footprint.  It does not mean true global excellence and effectiveness by default though.  Their resources must have a global mindset in addition to horizontal or vertical business skills.

Secondly partners should be selected not only because they are very good at what they do but also because they are able to challenge existing practices and help foster new thinking. You don’t want to engage a global digital partner that only does what you are already doing.  It must be better and/or different to create value.

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Andrew_VeseyAndrew Vesey @ATVesey
Chief Brandman and Founder  |  Vesey Creative / Brand Quarterly

Q –

When taking a brand global, how do you keep its visual identity as unified as possible over the different markets?

A –

You want to ensure your brand is a universal (or global-ready) as possible.  This will help to minimise, or even eliminate (if you choose ‘global’ over ‘glocal’), the need for brand variants in different regions.  Once you have your ‘universal’ brand, it’s time to ask yourself ‘Why?’.

Good brand manuals explain ‘why’ your visual identity is presented the way that it is.  This, of course, increases understanding of the brand and generates a greater level of brand adherence – but what it also does for you, is offer a window into what
(if anything) needs to be modified for culturally different markets.

Once you know why certain things are the way they are, it’s much easier to develop a cohesive global brand family.  With each regional brand working differently to achieve the exact same end goal – sharing your core brand values and connecting with people in an authentic way.

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Elliot-PolakElliot Polak @CultureShocks
Chief Executive Officer  |  Textappeal

Q –

What are the most common error brands make when they first attempt to implement an international campaign?

A –

The most common mistake I see first timers make is pushing out an idea or campaign that hasn’t been culturally checked.  This can be very costly.  One luxury hotel launched in Asia with a brand name that meant “Pig’s Tail” in Chinese – fortunately, they later became a client.  For one of its early global campaigns an American coffee chain promoted Christmas Cheer in Muslim markets – they became a client too!  But it even happens to sophisticated international brands.  One global megabrand’s new name means a sexual act in Russia.  A global burger chain’s commercial in Spain made light fun of Mexicans.  Word got back and it negatively impacted sales both in Mexico and Latino communities in the US.

You might think this is strange.  It’s not that hard to do a quick sense check with experts.  But it is usually an organisational issue. Campaigns tend to be designed in something like an ivory tower of creativity , in the city where headquarters are based: everybody falls in love with it and by the time someone spots the cultural issue it’s too late.

The result can be disastrous in terms of wasted money and damage to brand reputation.  And with social media instantly amplifying your every little misstep across the world, everyone is at risk.

We systematically recommend that brands pre-check key marketing ideas for key markets at an early stage, before approving or finalising the concept.  Not only does this avoid pain, it usually increases impact and sales across markets.

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Grainne-MaycockGráinne Maycock @GrainneMaycock
VP, Sales  |  Sajan

Q –

What first steps do you recommend brands take in converting their global marketing systems from translation-based to transcreation-based?

A –

The first thing we discuss with our customers around content is ‘categorization’.  Not all content has equal purpose or approach.  Some clients will think they need transcreation because of bad past experiences with poor marketing localization.  Others will think that they should apply transcreation for everything marketing related.  We work with our clients to help them determine which of their content is best suited to transcreation and why.

Once this step has been completed we ensure we set solid expectations around what transcreation is – and is not (equally important).  And also the level of stakeholder involvement to ensure success.  We typically recommend a pilot where we very closely map out process touch points, feedback loops etc.

Content types most typically suited to transcreation include copy-rich collateral, App store content, brochures (or parts thereof), headlines andtag lines, top level website content and sales pages. Transcreation typically applies when the content’s purpose is motivational.  There is less adherence to the source and the level of stakeholder engagement is typically high.

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Leona-FrankLeona Frank
Global Brand Manager  |  Vistaprint

Q –

How do you assess what level of customisation is required for your brand messaging to be successful in different markets?

A –

An effective brand message should be relevant and believable , so I usually begin by asking what the message should ultimately achieve.  Do we want to entice customers to try a product, visit our website or maybe think about our brand in a certain way?

To make the message believable, we need to back it up with what we call “reasons to believe”, i.e. the evidence that gives credibility to the claims we make.  These reasons can sometimes be universal, but there are instances where they vary between markets.  For example, to communicate that we are a value brand, we may need to back this up by highlighting affordable prices in one market and high quality manufacturing in another.

In terms of relevancy, the question is whether the brand message – which should address the solution to a customer pain point – actually focuses on the right pain point for that market.  The level of customization can then vary from just changing a few sentences to changing the concept, if not the entire brand strategy.