Global Marketing Strategy and Branding

Global Marketing Strategy and Branding

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When it comes to global marketing strategies, creating strategies that work for every separate local market based on the target audience is the most important thing. It’s difficult to reach these local markets with your brand assets nowadays and harder than ever to stand out from other competitors.

You can’t just copy some local, regional or international marketing strategy deck, add a slide about operating globally, rename the deck Global Marketing Strategy 2022 and go about your day.

So, how do we achieve our targets with international marketing strategies and company branding on a global scale? 

Importance of a global marketing strategy

Global marketing strategy is also known as “international marketing strategy”. So, while it’s true that even a solopreneur can create and roll out a global marketing strategy for their global brand, this doesn’t mean every company can just leave it to a single marketer (or hire an intern) to create and roll out an international marketing strategy.

Nowadays, marketing comes with a long list of niche expertise in strategy, analytics, copy, design, SEO, SEA and so on. Even the various social platforms all have their specifics. So, it would not be smart to have an intern or generalist figure this all out on their own.

This evergrowing list of marketing specialisms is not by accident. Digital or online marketing has matured over the years to become an integral part of doing business online—and whether that’s on a local or global scale, it’s all the same. Even if your business is located in Europe, somebody in Japan could be reading your blog posts, visiting your site or subscribing to your newsletter.  So, the importance of an international marketing strategy is to understand the specific market with its cultural values, current trends, etcetera. This requires market research first, before setting up communication channels with the local audience.

Importance of a global branding strategy

When it comes to branding, many companies focus on their own country and how they brand themselves for customers of that specific country.  They assume their international marketing strategy and global branding strategy will be much the same. But it is not and  businesses should understand the importance of global branding.

The world has become a smaller place thanks to fast (mobile) internet and devices at all price points. People can connect with others across the globe easier than ever before. That doesn’t mean people are the same everywhere. There are cultural differences which you need to take into account.  If customers cannot understand your company’s branding or don’t know you exist at all, then you’re not growing. It’s as simple as that.

So what goes into creating an excellent global branding strategy? It includes knowing your target audience, understanding any cultural differences between where you are and where your company is trying to sell itself, understanding a common language or symbols, and knowing the brands that already exist in that region. Some of these aspects can be achieved through research online and just spending some time learning about the target market. You can also hire agencies to do all the research for you. No matter how you go about: market research is always the first stage of planning global marketing strategies.

Then, when it comes to finding the right target audiences, it’s essential to use caution because sometimes stereotypes can come into play, causing PR problems. Apart from this, it is important  to know whether your company’s branding will fit into what your customers are used to seeing in their home countries or if you need to do something different. Each culture has other preferences or customs regarding colours, symbols, fonts, layouts, logos and so on.

Clear? Okay, let’s not delay any further and dive into explaining all about your global marketing strategy and brand strategy, so you have no problem understanding how to set up an international marketing strategy in the future.

What is a global marketing strategy and branding?

A global marketing strategy is what it says on the tin: a strategic marketing plan that explains a comprehensive marketing strategy for expanding a company’s presence in various countries around the world. In short: an international marketing strategy.

You must be able to answer specific questions to develop an effective worldwide marketing plan:

  • What are we aiming for in a global market?
  • What are our advantages and drawbacks in certain regions? 
  • How can we overcome any problems we might face?
  • What potential do we have in this industry?

A global marketing strategy or international marketing strategy should focus on increasing global brand recognition, gaining a competitive advantage, and positioning your company as a helpful alternative for the target audience. It also describes the marketing framework(s), materials and activities you use, such as newsletters, podcasts, ads or entire campaigns, but also analysis, planning, monitoring outcomes and gathering social proof. Usually, this is done by dividing everything into marketing channels like earned, owned and paid.

Other details are usually added to a global marketing strategy (international marketing strategy), as well as the brand strategy documents. You want to use the right product or service names and packaging (if you have/use it), have your pricing in different currencies, and tailor how you go about product launches (from the highest level, like when to launch, down to the minute details, like who takes responsibility for translations, copy checks, PR and website placement).

It’s also the place where you’ll find localised marketing efforts for various regions and new markets. It’s essential to add this. You want the different regions, usually referred to as the Americas, EMEA and APAC, to know how you plan to go about translating your corporate marketing and brand strategy into a local version that can be used by your local marketers to grow the brand. After all, you’ve got different cultures, languages and values to consider. Yet, everything has to translate back to the original brand values and international marketing strategy, as drawn up by HQ.

Global marketing issues and how to handle them

Global marketing strategies and brand strategies often result in beautifully designed documents that explain everything everyone needs to know. But that’s not where it ends. Now you must execute it. And that’s where most global marketing strategy or international marketing strategy issues arise. It’s especially important to know these if you’re in the tricky business of cross-border marketing. Maybe you encountered challenges before or maybe you wonder what can happen when you want to sell your brand internationally. Let’s name a few issues and how you go about solving them.

Global marketing vs local marketing

Global marketing headquarters always struggle to execute marketing campaigns across various countries because they have to deal with a local marketing department. Even if their task is just to translate a global campaign into a local one, problems will arise. There is always debate on how to localise something.

Surely, the global marketing department will feel that the local marketing department differs too much from the global branding strategy or strategy. Local marketing will usually feel like they aren’t heard and are looked down upon by the marketers of the headquarters. The only way to counter this is to build some flexibility into your guidelines and make sure headquarters meet with its local marketers regularly so everybody feels heard.

Understanding the target audience

While a global marketing campaign needs to be relevant to the global brand strategy and local demands, really understanding the target audience comes with a lot of issues. Local marketers will usually say their audience is different from the one that the global team used to draw data from. Don’t panic if you hear this. It’s rarely the case in reality.  Often, the locals just want to position themselves as experts and be seen and heard.

Not that the global marketing team never makes mistakes or loses sight of the target audience after caving in to demands from internal stakeholders. But these kinds of discussions can do a lot of harm on well-intentioned campaigns, turning them into campaigns that have no effect at all. And there are plenty of hilarious examples of global teams who demand silly campaigns to be implemented in countries where it will lead to brand damage. The bigger the company, the more likely this has happened.

You can avoid this mistake partly by doing proper market research and using the outcome. But the truth is that this data and information often gets put aside when company politics come into play. Whether that’s shareholders demanding to see some results from the company or marketing and sales teams fighting each other for influence and budget. Whatever the reason, every company should come up with plans to minimize those mistakes.

Reaching local target audiences

A great creative concept that meets all of the stated criteria and works well in the home country, might fail in other markets. This can happen for a number of reasons: language, culture or even certain local laws. Adapting an idea to fit different cultures and attitudes while maintaining the campaign’s core messages will always be a massive challenge for companies operating globally. It’s a difficult task to keep track of these creative, intellectual and emotional aspects across borders. And adding digital media into the mix—with all its technical, media, and channel choices—makes matters even more challenging.

The best way to handle these issues is to organise your marketing operations in detail. This makes your day-to-day more manageable and helps you counter any issues quickly. You can also be proactive and let all the local marketers draw up a list of the biggest do’s and don’ts. You can then give this list to any marketing agency to help you create a new international marketing strategy or campaign. This outsources some of the work and ensures that the basics are right from the start, so you won’t discover a problem when you’re close to the launch of your international marketing strategy.

Measuring and reporting global campaigns

Global marketers face several challenges when it comes to measuring return on investment (ROI). They must account for (big-budget) campaign success in various countries. Because in the end, the performance of global marketers themselves is judged by the campaigns they handle. Working out goals with corresponding key performance indicators (KPI) at the start is essential for balanced reporting. You also need to make sure everybody knows what these KPIs are.

Global marketers, on the other hand, must be able to be flexible with the data from several different regions and maybe even systems in order to make it meaningful and consumable. Providing uniform measurement across a variety of channels and locations is still difficult, particularly when management demands short-term wins. And they usually do. Should a campaign not perform well enough, a debrief should be done so that everybody knows where the problem has come from and what should be done or measured to improve the following campaign.

What is an integrated global marketing strategy?

Integrated marketing communications (IMC) means to have a strategic, collaborative marketing function where a targeted audience receives consistent, relevant brand messaging  from many different marketing channels. This is done to ensure prospects are buying the products or services.

At its most basic level, integrated marketing communications helps marketers in ensuring that they are utilising all of the available channels to maximize a campaign’s message and reach the right audience. So, along with all that we mentioned earlier, it is essential to be consistent in your messaging and output so that your brand won’t be damaged.

Global product strategies

Global product strategy refers to the management of a product in different regions of the world, intending to increase its strength and recognition in the markets in which it operates and sell to a given target audience based on local requirements.

Coca Cola, Red Bull and Nike are famous consumer brands with a global product strategy that ties into their various international marketing strategies as part of a great global marketing strategy formula.

For example, whether you see the Red Bull logo on a winning F1 car in Abu Dhabi or on a parachute of a base-jumper doing a crazy stunt in the US, you know without fail that it’s Red Bull, that it’s an energy drink, and that it helps you stay awake or concentrate for whatever extreme task at hand. It also signals that it’s a cool and fearless brand. So, this is a great example of global brand strategy, global product strategy and international marketing strategy put together to form a winning global marketing strategy.

Examples of product adaptation in foreign or international markets

Do you not have the time or budget to create this winning global marketing strategy with an international marketing strategy, global product strategy and global brand strategy for a new product? In that case, you should take a look at a product adaptation in foreign or international market strategies.

It helps you grow your business without launching a completely new product or changing production procedures. What you do is just adapt a new item to offer different benefits. It may also help you keep up with market changes and attitudes, which  could be important for your international marketing strategy or global brand strategy.

A minor product change can already make a difference and help  you stand out if it appeals to new audiences. But this will differ for every business and market. In certain situations, you will want to change more or less, depending on the product, international marketing strategy, global product strategy and global brand strategy for this product.

This can be about changing the product pricing, a quality adaptation, or making changes to the product or even the company. Just make sure everything still goes together with your international marketing strategy.