How to Build a Globally Local Brand
How to Build a Globally Local Brand

By Aditi Sharma
September 12, 2019 3 min read

The 1980s was a time when there were only a few brands whose products and services were available worldwide. These brands were termed as ‘Global Brands’. There were various barriers to entry in the global market, one being, a global sales and marketing team for effective sales all across the globe.

By the time brands like Apple, Microsoft and other conglomerates came into existence, the barriers to entry in the international market were lowered and the introduction of the internet set things into motion.

Foraying into the International Market

Being a ‘global brand’ is the end goal for most of the brands. And one of the main factors that urges the brands to dip their feet into the global market is when they outgrow the customer base in their home country.

It is important to understand that just by creating a website one doesn’t become global. It is the different cultures, expectations and demands that determine the initial steps of a brand going global.

But before setting up shop in a new country, brands should weigh the pitfalls and benefits.

First things first, brands should not choose a market based merely on its size but should focus on the market which is ‘relevant’. A relevant market is one where the product or service that your brand provides is acceptable to the local community.

Let us take the example of King, the gaming company famous for developing Candy Crush. It launched “Pet Rescue Saga” in South Korea, which is known to be one of the biggest markets for digital gaming. Despite the success of the game in Europe, it was a failure in the Korean market. The reason – audience was unable to connect with it. The game featured less traditional pets, like pigs and hence, held less sentimental value for them.

This also unfolds the fact that a brand should not assume that it will be successful in a particular market. It should lay some groundwork and understand the local and cultural nuances of the market and adapt accordingly.

Becoming ‘Globally Local’

As the brands foray into the international market they should try to adapt to the host market but at the same time should not compromise with their brand culture or what their brand does.

Coca-Cola bought and strengthened the Thums brand when it re-entered India in 1993

Market research is the key

This might seem like a no-brainer but brands should indulge in market research before taking any step. Brands should not base their decision on gut instinct but on two crucial factors – the consumer demand and the potential competition.

Customize the offering as per the market

After acquainting themselves with the consumer behaviour and the demand, brands should either build or tweak their product or service according to the host country. Certain products or services are accepted worldwide whereas, some are not. The reasons can range from religious beliefs to the customers needs. For instance, McDonalds is famous for its Cheeseburgers abroad but in India where a large population is vegetarian, they have introduced McVeggie Burger.

Translate your brand mindfully

While translating your website or your tagline to be understood by host market, a brand should not blatantly translate using online applications. An experienced local team should be employed to make sure that no sentiments of the customers are hurt. Like, telecom brand, Orange had to revamp its campaign around the brand name and color while launching in Ireland because the color orange reminded the locals of the Protestant Orange Order.

Unilever markets its detergent offering under different brand names across different markets while retaining the same brand positioning

Employ experts to sustain

A local or a global marketing organization should be roped in to understand the cultural nuances which can help build a strong foundation. Airbnb, for instance, crafted a global strategy which embraced both, a corporate as well as a community-based approach by translating it website in 26 languages giving it a local feel.

Be culturally accepted

To be accepted by the host market, make sure that the brand tone, language, advertisements, campaigns should align with their cultural norms. Any brand would like to be highlighted for a successful campaign and not because it made a big cultural faux pas.

Nurture local talent

Brands should try and promote the local talent to show the community that it is not just there for business but also for the local economic development. Align with non-profit groups, promote local artisans or become physically active for local causes, such actions increase the chances of the brand being accepted as well as the brand understanding the internal culture of the host market.

Having a keen eye for mapping out the intricate details is what will make a brand a success in the international market.

One cannot emphasize enough that the key to being a globally local brand is to deeply understand the cultural norms, demands and behaviour of the host country and then approaching in a sensitive manner.

Think local and create impactful content.

Are you thinking of expanding to new geographies? Drop a line at to discuss how you can make it a success

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