Global Branding Challenges, Opportunities and Best Practices

The following statement from Varying cultural customs impact hotel design (by Stephanie Wharton in, May 14, 2012) caught my eye a while back: “Adapting hotel spaces to observe the cultural expectations of a particular region while maintaining brand consistency presents both challenges and opportunities.”

The article goes on to explain that different regions around the world – such as the Middle East, China, South Korea and the Philippines – have different cultural guidelines and expectations, all of which influence hotel design. It’s a great read, with several examples of how a global company can (and should) not only accommodate differences, but acknowledge and show respect for them.

This made me think about the challenge any type of company faces when planning a global marketing campaign. So let’s change gears and see what happens when I modify Wharton’s first sentence a tiny bit: “Adapting marketing campaigns to observe the cultural expectations of a particular region while maintaining brand consistency presents both challenges and opportunities.” See what I mean?

This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. In fact, in case you don’t remember, check out my May 8 blog post about “Strengthening Global Brands.” This was essentially an invitation to a HEDNA roundtable webinar I participated in with my colleague Claire Goodswen-Benesh, “Strengthening Global Brands: Key Steps for Meaningful Communications Around the World.”

In case you missed the webinar, here’s a brief look at what we covered:

  • Languages of Internet UsersWe outlined what we see as the big picture opportunities and challenges in global marketing. For instance, almost 75% of internet users don’t speak English. That’s a lot of people missing out on messages that aren’t localized, something we know is both an opportunity and a challenge.
  • We shared some ideas on how to protect a global company’s brand integrity. Even with a strong brand, local marketing teams often “act local” and take brand decisions into their own hands. This often works just fine locally, but as you can imagine, eventually a brand can lose its global integrity, putting a company in the proverbial pickle. One way to avoid letting that happen is to define which elements must remain constant no matter what, and which can be changed to reflect local tastes and interests.
  • We offered some best practices on maximizing impact and results. There are several, but one of my favorites is the first, “start at home.” This means that your brand “voice” must be consistent throughout your own company before you can expect it to maintain its consistency and integrity outside the company and around the world.

I’d be happy to send you my slide deck from that presentation if you’d like more details, so please just give me a shout. And for those of you who are HEDNA members, you have access to the webinar recording at

Doesn’t it seem like the world continues to get smaller while our marketing goals continue to get bigger? So regardless of how you learn more, I highly encourage you to really dive into this area. And stay tuned to this blog, because I’m pretty sure this topic will come up again.

Leave a Reply