Achieving consistency
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Achieving consistency

A global marketing message loses impact if it is not consistent, so how can marketers ensure this is maintained while also driving local engagement?

Thinking global, acting local. That may be the ideal for brands seeking to maximise the impact of global marketing messages, refined with the precision of local market nuance. But in an increasingly complex multichannel marketing environment, maintaining consistency while ensuring local relevance is a continuous challenge.

For any organisation aiming to achieve this, a strong mission statement, brand promise and brand values are fundamental building blocks.

“Having a consistent message in the global marketing and advertising world is critical to achieving cut through and ensuring that each interaction is working together to build on the same brand purpose and brand values,” says Mick Entwisle, CEO and co-founder of Genero. “That can only be achieved where everyone creating communications, products, content and other marketing materials is doing so from the same position, which relies on the shared mission statement, brand promise and brand values.”

“Before you can connect with any audience, regardless of language or channel, you need to understand clearly what value your brand provides to your audience and why they should care about it,” says Clint Poole, senior vice president of marketing at Lionbridge, a provider of translation, online marketing, global content management and application testing solutions that works with world-leading brands including DuPont, Starbucks and Volvo. “This fundamental premise sits at the heart of all of your content, whether published natively or adapted for foreign markets.”

The ever-growing volume of content required for the multi-channel environment means marketers can struggle to maintain consistent tone, voice and message. “The complexity is only multiplied when you add new languages and markets as dimensions,” Poole says.

Strong, clear global guidelines that can be executed in local context and overseen centrally within that framework can address these issues. “Often these teams are working in inadvertent silos, so collaboration is not a reality and unintended discrepancies arise. By empowering the teams with the tools to evaluate content against a standard, you can avoid the fragmentation in your published messaging,” Poole says.

Entwisle concurs: “A lot of content has been created in silos, without consistency and without a connection to the brand purpose or a wider campaign. In this new era of marketing, each channel, audience and piece of content should be thought about in the context of the brand overall, how it fits into the customer journey, how it supports the narrative, and so on – and also to ensure there is a consistency throughout.”

Managing the brand is essential to ensure that the mission, brand values and brand promise are consistent, and that it delivers on these at every point. The relationship between global and local marketing teams will be an ongoing balancing act between using global content for consistency and creating bespoke local content for each market to ensure local relevance. But this creative dynamic – if managed correctly – can be effective.

Selecting the appropriate way to adapt content into new markets and languages is important to ensure the message is able to negotiate contextual issues and/or local nuance. Putting in place a formal global publishing process and centralised governance model will enable an organisation to evaluate content being created in-market and by sub-teams involved in delivering the customer experience over multiple channels. That can provide a framework that facilitates control over consistency, while also enabling a flexible approach to in-market input.

“Marketers need to evaluate the level of cultural nuance and context in their content, and choose the right adaptation method,” Poole says. That means getting beyond a one-size fits all approach. “You need to understand what tactics and content will work in each market, and invest in the right infrastructure to enable the global/local balance that fits your brand,” says Poole.

Effective strategies for global consistency
  • Adopt a hub-and-spoke model to control processes without stifling locally relevant content; centralise budget and oversight, but empower in-market resources to create content locally based on their intimacy with the customer
  • Invest in people, processes, and technology. Inexpensive solutions are very costly in the long run. Don’t be afraid to use external partners – outsource production and translation tasks and empower in-house marketers to focus on marketing tasks
  • Test, measure, scale. Test translated content the same way you test content effectiveness in your native language
Common mistakes
  • Putting consistency above all else and not getting local engagement
  • Not keeping messages simple and to the point
  • Trying to create ideas and develop content using central teams that don't have a deep understanding of the audience
  • Not using local partners that understand the audience, context, nuance – and humour
  • Using content that’s not fit for the audience or context in which it’s being consumed
  • Not embracing new approaches to content creation that balance consistency and authenticity
  • Not understanding how local insight can build bottom-up engagement with a global brand
Phil Lattimore Journalist and Editor
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