Aim for Global

09/16/2013 11:39 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017


We are living in a time of global brand building -- sit in any company management meeting and you'll quickly know that. You are likely to hear the CEO or CMO talking about the need for their brands to be truly global to grow and the need to be 'one' brand that is seamless and relevant across a wide and diverse range of markets and cultures all over the world.

Yesterday at the Financial Times Future of Marketing Summit in New York, Linda Boff of General Electric declared that "Marketers should focus on brands being global."

There are many benefits to this: focus; ability to use assets across all territories and reduced complexity and increased value on Wall Street. Indeed, APCO's Champion Brand index and Interbrand's list show the best brands are global brands.

Sometimes it may seem as if all of this is transpiring in a separate realm, outside of the day-to-day corporate needs. But the new global marketplace is everybody's business, including yours and mine.

We know about the success of brands like Apple, Coke and Nike and how they have achieved their global brands. We know about Johnny Walker and how it used "Keep Walking" to build a global empire.

And there are of course the famous blunders. In the 1960s, Electrolux translated its Swedish motto into English and ran it internationally: "Nothing sucks like Electrolux." To some this was seen as the poster child of bad global branding but to others the double entendre helped the brand gain attention.

We might say that they made good decisions and have been lucky. But luck had nothing to do with it. They realized early on that brands should be global and they changed their operating procedure to achieve this. They knew that their ideas had the potential to catch a wave of human energy and explode across boundaries and borders, gaining momentum along the way.

Successful global brands also realize that as consumers naturally wander across the digital media landscape, an inconsistent brand from market to market will be noticed by consumers and lose value in their eyes.

So how do you create a global brand?

One option is to work with a global ad agency network. An alternative is to work with a highly experienced focused micro global agency.

Start with a truly global, multicultural team leading your branding. For example, at StrawberryFrog New York I work with a group of international experts who come from the four corners of the globe. One example of successful global branding was the new global brand platform for Emirates Airline which we created. I wrote the motto "Hello Tomorrow" for Emirates to summarize the cultural movement idea that the world needs to be smaller to overcome misconceptions and misunderstandings. Cultural Movement rallies people both inside and outside a company behind an idea on the rise in global culture. Working side-by-side with my partner Kevin McKeon, and our multicultural teams, we wrote the global TV campaigns that brought this idea to life, stewarded by a genuinely multicultural team. Out of our Amsterdam office Eleni Sarlas and Karen Whitehouse and their team managed the stewardship of a global airline. Eleni is an Australian with roots in Greece and Karen is half Dutch, half English who worked in the Chile advertising world.

Kipp Kreutzberg, former global marketer at Pfizer said "At StrawberryFrog I often meet people who have been born in one country, educated in a second country, and now live and work in a third."

This is the new global marketing soul.

A different example of solving for the global market is building expertise among best in class partners. Most recently, we cracked "Make History," for Jim Beam's new global campaign, which was launched last week, this time working with partners - Jung von Matt in Germany and The Works in Sydney.

The potholes and politics of global branding are many, often hinder the best intentions. But there are ways of solving this.

Increasingly the better brands are figuring this out, following suit and aiming for global. Range Rover's brand idea "Above and Beyond" helps it connect with premium car consumers across the globe, while Delta Airlines "Keep Climbing" is an impressive campaign that feels more like a call to arms for thousands of internal employees to help the company improve services to customers.

Failing to understand the power of these campaigns can leave a brand looking stale or out of touch. Aim for global to grow your business but mind the pitfalls that can reduce the greatest ambition to merely the management team's dream.

New marketers and agencies will rise up and take on a more global viewpoint as this represents opportunity in the future marketing industry. In my new free to download book How to start a successful ad agency, I look at the cross cutting implications of this.

The world has gotten bigger. Aim for global.

Scott Goodson is the chairman and founder of StrawberryFrog