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Why ‘glocal’ is the new global and how to achieve it

While the traditional definition of a global brand still applies, it has evolved. Successful global brands must adapt to meet local demands by embracing what’s known as a 'glocal' outlook, says Serai Schueller

Being a global brand has traditionally meant that your brand is sold and recognized throughout much of the world. It means that you employ a similar marketing strategy and communicate unified brand values across all of your markets. Whether you’re in China, Australia, or the US, your global audiences know you by the imagery, personality, and voice that personify your brand.

However, there’s more to it. Today’s B2B marketers – at least the most successful of the bunch – understand that there’s also a local element that all brands, global or otherwise, cannot ignore.

New times call for new meanings

Taking a page out of the celebrity name-blending handbook, the term 'glocal' combines the words global and local.

Embracing glocal means that you have a global mindset and reach, but you also accommodate the cultures, ideals, and needs of your local audiences. If executed well, this approach preserves the essence of your brand while also making it relatable and understandable to local markets.

How to bridge the gap between global and glocal

According to research for our annual Connectivity Report where we conducted 32 interviews and 506 online surveys, 'localizing the brand' was the biggest concern marketers had with reaching and engaging their global customers. And, while 93% of respondents think this level of personalization is attainable at scale, 58% are unsure of how to achieve it.

So, how do you close the gap between perception and reality? While there’s no silver bullet, there are actions that you can take to position yourself for glocal success. Let’s dive in!

1. Empower local teams

It’s tough to succeed as a global brand without authentic intelligence about your local markets. You need marketers familiar with individual regions to translate your global brand to local dialects, nuances, and cultures.

Without this, you’ll struggle to connect with your target audiences in an authentic way or worse yet offend them. But when you’re operating on such a large scale, how do you infuse these local flavors into your brand? Much of your success revolves around empowering your local salespeople, marketers, dealers, and other partners around the world to leverage your content in a way that speaks their unique markets.

Here are a few ways to enable this:

  • On-demand access. With so many different time zones, your teams around the world need 24/7, self-service access to information, systems, and content. Otherwise, they will struggle to give their unique audience what they need, when they need it. If a sales contact in India can’t immediately access the collateral they know will resonate with their audience, they may miss their opening to make a sales-driving connection.
  • Flexible content. Give your teams access to the sell sheets, brochures, and collateral needed to communicate your brand. But, also let them make adjustments that accommodate the needs of their market. A good way to do this is to control or lock crucial brand components like colors, logos, and fonts, but allow individual markets to translate the language to capture regional dialect or swap in culturally relevant imagery and messaging. By empowering regional teams to tweak existing materials on their own, you’ll also save time and money otherwise spent on creating new, one-off resources.
  • Analytics. All markets aren’t created equal. While a short-form video may perform well for some, other markets may respond to longer, more in-depth formats. Give your teams the tools they need to understand the content and initiatives that perform best in their market. While anecdotal feedback and qualitative information are helpful, teams also need hard data to guide their decisions and support or disprove their assumptions.

2. Connect local teams with a global framework

While it’s important to introduce a local element into your global brand, you must be careful that doing so doesn’t dilute or distort what your brand stands for. To protect your brand as it travels from market to market, you must align and connect your various teams.

To do this, establish rules and processes that unite and apply to everyone and anyone that touches your brand. This way, your teams are working in unison toward a shared vision, and your brand’s integrity is more likely to remain intact. These guiding principles will vary by organization, but at a minimum, you should provide top-down direction via:

  • Brand guidelines. Document a set of brand rules, or standards, that explain how your brand works. This can range from a simple logo and color guide to a full-blown brand book covering everything from brand tone to boilerplates, mission statements, and trademark requirements. Whatever you decide as an organization, keep your guidelines up-to-date and easily accessible by all.
  • Global strategy. Ensure you have a global strategy, or grand vision, to guide your marketing and content efforts. Even if you have a small team, a global strategy ensures all contributors are working toward the same goals, and they have a clear path of how they’ll get there. In fact, 72% of marketers who increased their content marketing success say that having a strategy was a major contributor.
  • Global process. You must establish top-down processes to connect and align the workflows of your people and tools. While technology can help unite disparate teams, you also need people to sync and plan the workflows, tools, communication processes, and trainings that are right for your organization. After all, it’s not about eliminating regional or team silos, it’s about connecting them! 

3. Balance tech and touch

Technology has many benefits. It can bring your dispersed teams together, enabling them to work better, faster, and more collaboratively. It can scale your efforts to reach those global audiences. And, it can unlock information about local audiences, infuse personalization in your communications, and help your teams deliver the right content to the right people at the right times. Long story short, it can take you glocal.

However, there is a huge misconception among marketers and organizations today. All too often businesses think that technology is the silver bullet to their glocal success (or marketing success in general). While it’s extremely powerful, you also need actual humans to inform your technology decisions, build relationships, and think creatively.

Before throwing a new technology at a challenge, get your people working on, or thinking through, these foundational elements:

  • Tech strategy. While machines can do some pretty impressive things, you need living, breathing people to develop a technology strategy. All too often these decisions rest solely with IT teams, but to develop a strategy that works for your entire organization you need input from the teams that use the tools (including your regional marketers!).
  • System of record. From marketing automation tools to digital asset management (DAM), customer relationship management (CRM), and project management solutions, the technology options are seemingly endless. Find the right tools for your purposes. Start by establishing a system of record that sits at the center of your martech stack. From here you can pull in other technologies to feed superior internal and glocal customer experiences.
  • Tool integration. As you grow and bring on more tools, ensure that your tech strategy includes a plan for integrating all of your go-to technologies. According to our Connectivity Report research, enterprise businesses see significant gains from integrating their technologies. 65% of respondents ranked the ability to share data across systems as the number one benefit, followed by centralized collaboration, saved time, and seamless user experiences. And, this makes sense. Your teams throughout the world need to efficiently work together, not alongside each other.

Today’s customers expect more, especially from global brands. They demand near perfection in the experiences you create. They expect you to deliver on better standards of quality, social responsibility, and personalization than ever before. And, while they expect a certain level of consistency from your brand, they also need you to tell your story in a way that hits home.

It’s a delicate balance, but with the right global guidance and local considerations you can connect the two worlds and position your brand head and shoulders above the competition.

2018 Widen Connectivity Report

Widen's new Connectivity Report focuses on how connectivity influences marketing operations, strategy and business results.

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2018 Widen Connectivity Report