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3 cautionary tales on why brand consistency is important?

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Managing a global brand can sometimes feel like walking a tightrope.

On the one hand, you’ve worked hard to build a core brand message and persona. You’re justifiably proud of the fact that this message will resonate with customers right across the globe. You’re good to go across all markets, right?

But at the same time, you know all too well that customers the world over are most definitely NOT all the same. Wants, expectations, motives for purchase, sensibilities, tastes – even regional favorite colors: these can all differ to a greater or lesser extent from region to region.

So there’s no getting away from it: for your campaign to really hit home in your various local markets, it will almost certainly have to be adapted in some way. But what exactly needs to change? How much change is too much? How do you adapt without losing the essence of that all-important central global message?

Here’s a closer look at some of the brands that got into trouble with localization, and at what you need to do to optimize your campaign while ensuring brand consistency.

Tropicana 

No matter where you are in the world, if you buy a carton of Tropicana Pure Premium, you know exactly what you’re getting. It’s 100% pure orange juice: nothing more, nothing less. And to really hammer home the point, the front of each pack features an image of an orange with a straw sticking out of it.

The company assumed that consumers within this health-conscious market would find what’s inside the orange (i.e. the juice) to be more interesting than the orange itself. But consumers disagreed. The new logo, typography, slogan, and imagery seemed totally inconsistent with what they knew and loved. It led to a 20% drop in sales and the initiative was swiftly reversed.

Gerber

Tropicana arguably changed way too much in order to try to appeal to a particular market. Gerber’s problem when targeting Sub-Saharan Africa was the exact opposite.

Part of the Nestle stable, Gerber is a purveyor of baby food. Each jar features a cute illustration of a baby. Given that baby food fulfills the same basic need the world over, why would you ever think that this would need to be significantly altered for any particular locality?

What they hadn’t appreciated is that food packaging in Sub-Saharan Africa invariably depicts what’s actually inside the package. This lack of knowledge about local habits was instrumental in the brand failing hugely in the area.

True consistency occurs when your global, universally-accessible campaigns and your location-specific sub-campaigns complement each other

Fiat

True consistency occurs when your global, universally-accessible campaigns and your location-specific sub-campaigns complement each other. As part of this, it’s essential that you consider the local ramifications of your global content.

Take Fiat, for instance. One of its flagship adverts for the Lancia featured longstanding critic of China’s conduct in Tibet, Richard Gere, driving to the Dalai Lama’s former palace. Faced with protestations from the Chinese government, Fiat strongly reiterated its “neutrality in connection with any political matter.”

As a general rule, though, if it’s not your intention to make a political point in a particular area, make sure you do not make one inadvertently.

Always tap into local knowledge

Almost every localization blunder has one thing in common: a failure to use local knowledge. Cultural do’s and don’ts, political sensitivities, habits, idiosyncrasies, and more. Marketers on the ground are almost always the best-equipped people to optimize your campaigns.
Best of all, with Brandgility, your local marketers have a framework for on-brand adaptation, meaning they have the ability to make changes to content, while always staying consistent with your central message.


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