How do brands stay coherent across multiple channels internationally?
As brands attempt to conquer international markets, it’s important they keep brand integrity and cohesion across multiple channels. Once a brand has built its reputation in one location, they need to carry this across to establish what is ‘on brand’ for them. Jack Daniel’s senior vice-president and managing director John Hayes explains why this is crucial for them “People find the story unique and the consistent manner in which we tell it underscores the authenticity and credibility of the brand.”
There is a difference between brand cohesion and brand consistency. Consistency makes you brittle, but cohesion makes you flexible. Brand cohesion means your brand is still represented and recognisable but can appear completely new to fit a different culture. The message still needs to resonate with customers and prompt them to engage with the product or service. Consumers will react differently depending on geographic location, this is why it’s important to be able to tweak the brand’s visual, tonal and experiential output without tarnishing the identity.
The Nike Swoosh (tick) is a good example, adapted over the years since its creation in 1971, it’s become a key identifier of the brand and recognised across the world.
In line with this, their ‘Just do it’ slogan also adapts across cultures. The words stay the same but the message it portrays can be moulded to diverse markets across the world.
“Brand cohesion means your brand is still represented and recognisable but can appear completely new to fit a different culture”
Despite the language difference, tone of voice can be kept the same to be in line with a company’s core values. If the tone of voice is jovial this would need to be carried over in order to maintain this reputation across borders.
According to Ryan Patel, Global executive and keynote speaker, these values need to stay the same because it’s “What consumers associate your brand with, hence why you need consistency and brand protection.” Even just posting with a similar style across all social platforms is a simple way to reinforce the brand’s personality.
Coherence needs to be maintained across all channels, this includes physical experience and strategy.
Starbucks keeps a coherent look by serving seasonal drinks each year, however they adapt these drinks depending on where they are, to best suit specific cultural tastes.
“Coherence needs to be maintained across all channels, this includes physical experience and strategy”
Similarly, fast-food giant McDonald’s carries the same message across the globe – they sell an experience rather than a product. From Happy Meals to interactive play areas, McDonald’s is a family-friendly restaurant. But this doesn’t mean every branch is exactly the same.
Catered to local tastes, McDonald’s have many regional variations, but all are still ‘on brand’. In India they have had the McAloo Tikki burger, inspired by a commonly eaten snack in North India known as the ‘aloo tikki’. Whereas in the Netherlands they have a McKroket, inspired by one of the nations much-loved snacks, a deep-fried, ragout-filled treat known as a ‘kroket’.
Customers know exactly what they are going to get, and this really works in their favour; the food is the same quality, similar pricing and is delivered quickly across all franchises. Developing this strong and coherent process has allowed them to develop consumer confidence in the iconic corporation.
“Developing this strong and coherent process has allowed them to develop consumer confidence in the iconic corporation”