In Marketing, You Don't “Go Global” Without Going Local

BrandingWe just finished two fantastic days at Brand2Global 2014, an annual event for global marketing professionals. There were so many great speakers at the event it is difficult to capture the full history of the program. The biggest disappointment of the conference was that it is impossible to attend all the events. Outside of that the networking opportunities, the side discussions, and debates really provided an opportunity that Moravia would like to see become a regular one for all multilingual agencies helping global companies expand their brands across countries/regions.

So how do global brands engage with customers around the world? And how do they do it so that they can avoid the pitfalls inherent to marketing in foreign locales?

The answers may surprise you.

Listen to the Locals

The conference may have been misnamed though — we questioned at times if, instead, it should have been named Brand2GoLocal.

The overarching theme of this year’s Brand2Global was deep personalization. All companies are trying to reach end content consumers on a personal, local level — either to pitch to them directly or to create advocates (“mavens”) among their content consumer bases. These targeted consumers and mavens are not necessarily the consumers of the products and services served by this content marketing.

Ajit Sivadasan is the Vice President for Global Marketing at Lenovo. In his presentation, “Leveraging New Age Marketing to Level the Playing Field for Global Brands, Ajit spoke of how Xiaomi, a Chinese producer of mobile phones, dominates the market in China even though it is more expensive than other popular brands. This, said Ajit, is because it “listens” to its user base and incorporates their feedback into its product designs, even sometimes rolling out new phones in weekly builds. This is truly listening to and acting upon the customer feedback.

Align Social Media to Traditional Marketing Strategy

Another theme echoed throughout the conference was the concept of parallel marketing. Companies build their brand through traditional channels and use social media, viral advertising, instant marketing, and forums to keep their brand current. Social media, insights, listening are all alive and healthy, but so are traditional marketing and brand creation strategies.

Lars Silberbauer Andersen is the global director of social media and search at Lego. In his presentation, “Building Social Media Value Brick by Brick,” he talked about how Lego uses social media in alignment with traditional content marketing streams to ensure that, in future years, the brand has a loyal and engaged consumer base.

Ajit Sivadasan spoke on this too. Lenovo is one of the largest mobile brands in the world today. He described the journey of building the brand, product, and traditional multilingual marketing material but using social media to create the traffic to that traditional content.

Be Adaptive to Cultural Cues

Product names. Colors. How both may be received are based on language, region, and demographics. Companies are crying out for help in understanding local cultures and their nuances.

Paige Williams is the Director of Global Readiness at Microsoft; Michelle Privat Obermeyer is the Global Readiness Manager. They focused their presentation, “Diverse Cultures, Many Languages, One World,” on the difficulties of driving multilingual and multicultural engagements in a local-driven world. Tablets adapt to space, so content needs to adapt to its environments, local customs, and taboos. The Global Readiness Team gave examples of images that would be innocuous for some and highly offensive for others.

Colors and symbols can all carry meaning for some cultures. Moreover, as Devyani Bhattacharjee, Director of Marketing Localization for SAP, noted, these symbols are like the communities from which they arise  they are not static.

I will say more about the localization industry’s part in all of this in another post. Until then, I would like to thank the entire Brand2Global team for their hospitality and professionalism in organizing and facilitating this exceptional event. Thanks to our fellow sponsors who, by supporting dinner and drinks sessions, extended the opportunity for lively conversation on the global-is-local marketing strategy.

 

Do you have your own thoughts to share from the conference? Share them in the comments section below!