Strike the balance between global strategy and local execution

Raúl del Cuadro

18 September 2019

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How to manage global brands in digital environments 

The framework used when developing a digital marketing strategy is very different from the offline environment. The immediacy, the volume of content and the form of communication that defines the digital landscape, in particular the social one, entails designing and developing very different levels of action. This directly affects global brands which have to implement global strategies: same general direction, but adapted to a local market. 

The identity of a brand must be something solid and accessible, regardless of the market, as that is what defines the brand’s essence. The challenge when developing a social strategy for a global brand is to maintain the identity and adapt it to the global market taking into account possible cultural differences.  

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Example of market research to implement social strategy

The global brand team must ensure brand identity and storytelling

One of the most important actions to preserve brand identity and storytelling across all markets is to have a global brand team. This team must be focused on generating brand guidelines and action protocols as well as ensuring they are followed in all markets.  

The brand’s tone of voice must be clear and consistent across all markets. It is important that all local teams work hard on finding the right tone as this is not an easy task. 

Rigid brand guidelines make it difficult for local teams to create content that is reactive or spontaneous. However, a clear vision and brand guidelines instill greater confidence in local teams, allowing them to execute those real-time moments whilst still following the essence of the global brand. 

Digitisation means that teams are becoming increasingly more agile; it enables easy communication between different countries. International videoconferences help teams to share the same strategic vision, ideas and best practices between markets. This ensures that consumers across the world are all exposed to the same brand essence. 

The “glocal” content strategy

The main key to the brand’s global content strategy is to know the buyer personas in each market. Buyers vary greatly due to cultural and behavioral differences depending on the place of origin and residence. Therefore, it is important to know as thoroughly as possible through studies who your buyers are and to have native people in the team who are able to build communication according to local nuances. 

For example, in Royal Caribbean, ‘families’ are a very important buyer persona. However, families are not of the same age, nor do they behave in the same way or have the same interests in all markets. It is important to have a clear profile of the person when defining the content.

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Example of how create content depending on brand, market, buyer persona and objetive

From the point of view of optimisation of resources and costs, global content adapted to local markets means saving money and increasing efficiency for global brands. This makes it possible to create common content for several markets that can be easily adapted in each of them without always having to produce content locally. 

A common example of Royal Caribbean’s global content strategy is the adaptation of key day-to-day content in the annual calendar for each market. This year for Mother’s Day the approved conceptual line was to use “typical mother phrases” associated with experiences on the cruise. Once the concept was approved, the phrases were culturally adapted to each country and scheduled as the day it was celebrated, bringing the same concept to the various markets.

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Example of Royal Caribbean’s Instagram Stories for Mother’s Day

Global communication strategy for brand reputation

The global communication of the company in cases of crisis must be unanimous and unmistakable, that is why it is important to have a clear protocol of action in all cases and markets. Social media is one of the most immediate communication channels with the client so it is vital that the right information is posted at the right time. In Royal Caribbean, there is a very clear protocol when there is a possible case of reputational crisis that involves:

  • Monitoring all conversations.
  • Making daily reports of the situation.
  • Having a document for international responses in case users start raising questions.

This way, users receive the same information in their own language regardless of the country in which they live in. 

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Achievement of objectives and global reporting

The level of digital maturity is going to differ across markets, therefore local teams are focused on achieving global objectives. The objectives set depend on the sales force and the importance that the brand places on each market. The digital strategy must be aligned with the rest of the company. Therefore, it is necessary to evaluate the role of digital channels in each of the markets.

In order to have a global reporting system, a common working template must be established, to ensure that each team is measuring success against the same KPIs. These reports are the foundation of the global direction and strategy that applies across the entire organisation.

In short, the digital strategy of global brands is framed in a complex scenario due to their multicultural nature and the volume of agents taking part in the processes. However, thanks to digitization and with the right methodology, protocols and tools, brands can have a global digital presence that is consolidated and coherent.