Defining and maintaining a core brand essence globally

Guest article introduction.
We’re back. There are several new articles in the works. Jonathan Finer gets things rolling with notes on globalizing a core brand essence. Essential reading for anyone involved in local campaigns for global brands. International copywriters take note.

Japanese translation company
Global Branding

Cloverleaf Innovation

Global Branding
by Jonathan Finer

Early global branding efforts generally adopted a rather ethnocentric approach: simply exporting successful brands with little or no regard for unique local customs and consumer concerns. The pendulum then swung in the opposite extreme, as next generation branding had the tendency to fluctuate widely from nation to nation – cultivating local significance, but compromising a broad and cohesive brand essence.

Current thinking on global branding recognizes the critical need to strike a careful balance between these previous two extremes. Leveraging the power of big brands with a necessary small worldview defines a winning formula: global brands with local perspective. Maintaining this careful equilibrium, however, can be tricky. Too much regional segmentation can water-down the brand, and conversely, developing too dominant of “mega-brand” approach may miss the opportunity to appeal to local audiences.

To avoid either extreme, it is critical to define and maintain a core brand essence – the central theme that is inexorably part of a cohesive brand expression. By establishing a clear, definitive and constant essence, a brand then maintains the necessary flexibility to adapt and expand to reflect local needs.

McDonald’s, for example, is always committed to providing a fast, fun and consistent food experience. That’s their core essence. Determining how to deliver on this promise, however, differs around the globe. So in Stuttgart, for example, you can order a beer with your “Big Mäc”, while Parisians may follow their Royal Deluxe with a choice of “patisseries” which includes the Mandise and the McCrispy. While they are serving up “I’m Lovin’ It” universally, McDonald’s is clearly expressing their love in distinct regional ways.

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Further reading on global branding

Global Brand Rankings

Yamaha teaches Al Ries a bit of branding, Japanese style

Shiso & Green Tea Cola for the Summer

Clorox, Toyota and the Japanese Culture

How do you take a brand global?

Brand Inspiration From The Far East

What Color is Your Brand?

‘Resist Simple’ – Tanqueray Gin’s First Global Campaign

About the author

  • Jonathan Finer is a Principal at Cloverleaf Innovation in Chicago, IL. Cloverleaf is an innovation consultancy that is dedicated to driving top-line growth for our clients by delivering fresh, creative and commercially viable brand, product, service and organizational solutions, through a highly collaborative and dynamic process.


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