How can you balance global brand strategy with local brand relevance?

On one side, the brand owner needs to protect and communicate the brand core across the borders, to ensure it conveys the same essence, is recognizable and shares the same distinctive assets.

 But this means that the communication and execution developed centrally could lack cultural fit and consumer relevance in the local markets, and might need to be “localized” to become effective.

Very often, the global strategy platforms don't allow local flexibility in order to leverage local insights and possible local opportunities.

The global language and codes may not be fully understood by consumers or be salient enough at country level.

Centralized research may be less capable of taking into consideration the local competition, consumption habits and cultural elements, and incorporating these within a global framework.

Using conventional research does not help a lot either. Centralized research might prioritize simplification and cost-efficiency over depth.

Research may very often be used to extrapolate insights from one country and apply them to other markets without collecting the local consumer response, leading to gaps in the brief and weak results.

Even when insights are collected for a specific country, the research brief developed centrally may lack the answers to some important challenges that local teams face with the market and the competition.

Very often, a local approach can be inefficient and fragmented, and results difficult to compare, duplication of work, not allowing a harmonized strategic direction to be shaped.

As a result, local teams, in their effort to protect and grow their sales and market shares, may develop local strategies that risk diluting the essence and the strength of the brand if they are not coherent with the global strategy.

This can lead to ATL or BTL executions that are not fully coherent with the brand positioning, or, just follow opportunities that only exist in the local market and are not necessarily the right ones for the brand.

For example, the visual & messaging can lack coherence with the brand and the global strategy.

Very often, local marketing and commercial teams add messages and other creative executions that aim to capitalize on trends, fads, specific retailers’ requirements.

The problem is that these might work in terms of sales as they leverage temporary market moves, but they dilute the brand strategy creating a continuous vicious circle leading to increased dependence on pricing and promotions, and even more sameness and commoditization.

Is there any efficient way to get out of this vicious circle and avoid all these problems? The ultimate solution is to base the brand strategy and its executions on the fundamental human motives - evolutionarily preserved mechanisms that have helped us survive and thrive.  

Think of motives as the bio platforms to make the brand, idea or action stick. Where does this extraordinary ability to build come from? 

First of all, they have the ability to instantly grab our attention, as they are automatically identified as an existing organizing principle of our brain, instantly authenticated by the brain as relevant and true.

They create interest as the information they provide has the ability to stick in our brain as it is processed, stored and kept on stand-by for reuse at any moment, as it provides information useful for our survival. This information is always relevant by following the pathways of the right motive - behavior is unconscious but no arbitrary.

Motives have the extraordinary ability to create desire as they are inherently gratifying. We come with an urge to satisfy our motives, they are nature’s way of keeping life worth living, the deepest ways to motivate humans.

They trigger action and purchase as they flood the brain with the right chemicals in the store’s aisle, by triggering preference in the neurophysiological and psychological interface and making people keep buying into the brand again and again.

Motives, their bio structures and neural circuits boost the efficiency of communication, as they are automatically authenticated by the brain. They need no explanation. Huge communication budgets are unnecessary to create real success stories. What is imperative though is a master idea, a narrative with inner substance.











Source: Living Brands: How Biology and Neuroscience Shape Consumer Behavior and Brand Desirability, Lid Publishing, London, 2018, p. 391


Motives are not just general emotions, but human universals with their own bio structures, providing an excellent way to activate brand strategies with hierarchies of inherent concepts, themes, activators and mental triggers. They help translate strategies into executions and trickle it down to more ideas that engage people.

As all common languages spoken on the planet have basically one grammar and one vocabulary, expressed in different combinations of letters and sounds, the source language of our behavior is the platform that integrates all the codes and languages that humans have developed.

Nothing gets lost in translation is it allows for the neural alignment of all creative executions and touchpoints, such as colors, sounds, shapes, fonts, materials, scents, flavors etc. These hierarchies of concepts and synergistic use of executions help the brand, idea or action go a long way to interweaving the brand with people’s everyday life. They help trigger equity implementation providing, the right activators, implied cues and themes.

These biologically rooted fundamentals transcend cultures and time and have the ability to speak personally to each one of us. It is a language of inherent concepts that feels alive because it can be shared. As it makes sense to everyone, its patterns are primal and profound.


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