How should a global brand behave, globally? Part 2 of 2

So how exactly does one find the right “elementary idea” that is at the core of a global brand? Short answer: Work with us (Bleublancrouge). We have ways.

Longer and less glib answer: There is no simple formula. However, there are certain principles we’ve learned over the years that may help provide clues:

1. Send the right people in field

At BBR we like to go in field to meet consumers, dealers, salespeople in their natural habitat. We like to observe and even film them using the product while living their lives and conducting normal business. (We do not gather strangers together in a focus group room like fish in an aquarium.) To do this you want, ideally, a team of planners, ethnographers, creative people with different perspectives and tools, who see different things. People equipped to listen, observe and record with a penetrating eye and a listening ear.If you’re working on a global brand I’d strongly suggest that you send out teams of similar composition to each of your major markets with a strong research brief and a local representative/interpreter who can help translate or help make your team more culturally literate in that local market.

2.Think apples to apples

Make sure that each research team is using roughly similar tools for research and asking similar questions, albeit translated into the local vernacular. This way when you bring the teams and their findings together, you can effectively compare their insights to see a larger whole emerge.

3.It’s all about pattern recognition

Once you have a rich set of observations and findings, you want to gather your (hopefully) brilliant team to sift through the findings and identify key patterns. This takes time and patience, but is well worth the effort. And make sure you have smart people there who did not go in field but who know how to ask good questions.

4. Create a global brand team

No CMO or single marketing department alone can possibly position and manage a trans-national brand successfully without the participation of local market experts. When I worked on Kellogg’s the global brand team consisted of cross-functional teams from each major market who met twice a year in a different country to share insights and ideas with each other. Their agencies and PR firms were always included in the mix.

5.Be ruthlessly disciplined

Once you’ve found your “elementary idea” and decided on your global brand positioning, commit to it. Do not waver. Be ruthless in managing it and accept no inconsistencies on the strategic level. To help with this, we would recommend a global brand brief or brand manual be developed and distributed.

 6.Employ local zeitgeist experts

In seeming contradiction to the last principle, when it comes to creative expression, you want to be very flexible and adaptable at the local level. Make sure you have people who are experts in the local market’s zeitgeist – the pop cultural currents, celebrities, trends, symbols, rituals, preferences that are popular in that territory. Assuming you have landed on a global positioning and have inculcated it throughout your network, these local experts will help you translate that strategy into very appealing and ‘sticky’ work at the local level.In short: Positioning should be timeless, but tactics should be timely.

We’ll end this post with perhaps the most powerful, world-changing “elementary idea” ever developed by a modern brand. It is the credo for Apple, and one that has not changed since the beginning when Mr. Jobs and his team were just starting out:

“Humans are the creators of change in this world. As such, they should sit above systems and processes, and not be subordinate to them.”

By landing on this credo and keeping to it, this powerful elementary idea of machines serving human creativity and not the other way around, they have transformed our world.