What It Means To Localize Your Brand
And why so many National Brands still haven’t figured it out.
For many national brands, one of the biggest challenges is how to find ways to connect with a local audience. For global brands such as Coke or Nike, this localization is of less concern due to the fact that they aren’t competing against established local brands. For them, their localization efforts come in the form of sponsorships and community involvement. Things can get complicated, though, when a company attempts to buy its way into a market that already has a “buy local” mindset in place.
As an agency, RUSSO has been on both sides of this equation. In some instances, we have served as the lead agency working with local media and advertising firms to implement the marketing plan established for the client. In other cases, we have served as the regional agency for a national brand attempting to establish itself or grow within a local market.
The reasoning behind this process is sound based on an understanding that this type of partnership will provide valuable insight as well as local talent to help execute the plan. The problems often arise when the initial plan does not fully take these unique local markets into consideration, whether it’s in the form of the messaging, creative or the overall strategy itself.
The other side of this, and probably the most problematic, is when a national brand tries to out localize the locals. This always ends badly, yet it happens more often than you would think.
For example, when most people think of Louisiana, they think of the Cajun culture. But if you tried to place the entire state within that box, you will have missed the mark entirely. In many ways it would be like preaching to the choir, but in this instance, the preacher would have a funny accent that would deter most people from hearing the sermon in the first place.
The moral of the story is this: you can’t just fake it. People are smarter than that, and if you don’t give them the credit to sniff out an imposter, it will come back to bite you. Remember, branding is all about trust, and pretending to be something you are not only breeds contempt.
So, with all that being said, what’s the answer to localizing a national brand?
Truth is, there is not one simple answer to this as each market has its own culture, traditions and unique buying habits. The key is to develop messaging that will not only resonate with your target audience, but also be flexible enough to adjust as that audience changes. To assume that one core messaging system will work for all is not the best approach.
The general message for any product, service, or company will need to vary at times depending on who it is you are talking to. Different audiences will have different needs, attitudes, and motivators, and it’s important to make sure you are addressing those needs and that it works naturally into the fabric of their existing conversation.
With that being said, the core brand message must remain consistent across all communications ensuring that the established brand promise is always being supported.
Localization of a brand has more to do with the conversation you have with your audience than anything else. Are you putting a face on your product or service? A personality? Are you authentic? What mental real estate is yours to own?
Once you are able to answer these questions, along with a good understanding of how each unique audience is motivated, you will have a strong foundation to develop a plan that will produce results.
When you are able to connect with your audience on an emotional level and stay away from price point marketing, you will find yourself with a tribe of advocates that will gladly sing your praise.
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