‘Glocal’ branding – as the neologism hints – involves a tension. Strong brands should be consistent, wherever in the world they are, but they must also be responsive to their customer base, which will differ from region to region. How should marketers reconcile this?
HSBC, the world’s pre-eminent glocal brand, has developed a powerful brand strategy from which we can extract some generally applicable teaching points:
- Acknowledging cultural difference through your branding is a great start in crafting a glocal message. HSBC’s slogan and advertising takes on the glocal idea but infuses it with a deeper message of cultural sensitivity and tolerance. Their advertising campaigns seek to challenge our assumptions and prejudices, and teach us to look at the world from a fresh perspective (for example, consider their campaign headlines, ‘a different point of view is simply the view from a place where you’re not’ and ‘we see a world of opportunities. Do you?’). For HSBC, their CSR agenda is a part of their brand.
- Not all local markets are equal. HSBC’s sponsorship portfolio is strategically weighted towards the high-growth BRIC economies. This year the focus is on Brazil – with HSBC as chief sponsor of the international Festival Brazil that ran over the summer months in London – while last year concentrated on India, and 2008 was China. Some other recent flagship events here in London include the China Design Now exhibition at the V&A and an Argentine Contemporary Art exhibition.
- Infusing glocalization into your brand’s core values makes the message stick. The Group’s values require the organization to ‘meet the needs of our diverse customers around the world… with local knowledge and expertise’ and promote ‘the welfare and development of our local communities.’ Articulating the glocal message in the brand values helps HSBC to hardwire it into the organization.
We have identified some further best-practices in the area of glocal branding and marketing, that focus on overcoming operational challenges. For more suggestions, MLC Members can check out our white paper on Examining the Interplay Between Corporate and Regional Marketing Groups.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution in this space, but in an increasingly interconnected world in which the biggest growth opportunities are migrating to the ‘developing’ nations, getting the answer right has rarely been as difficult or urgent.