One of the major challenges for companies in these days is the development and implementation of their marketing communications strategy in a global basis. Companies that have operations abroad need to make decisions concerning to their brand and how they will promote it. Some of the questions are: Will the firm have local brands in every country, listening to particular cultures or will they have only one brand around the world?
We can find some clues to these questions in the globalization itself. For example, maybe the company has created an excellent branding strategy in one local market, with exclusive promotions, benefits, reaches and image. That means an exclusive and particular marketing communication strategy, to realize that the rest of the world has already access to that same local communication. This increasing exposure makes very difficult separate the local brand from the global one (Lindstrom, 2000).
Having this in mind, the considerations to take into account in leveraging a global brand are related with the brand´s standardization and the possibility in communicating around each country the same story line, but with local actors. It is like transmitting a global message of the brand´s benefit but with a local execution, “think global and act locally” (Pedroza, 2012). The important issue is to transmit the “essence” of the brand in a local way.
Companies are more likely to use global single brands when the firm is already operating worldwide, the brand is an extension of the owner and his personality, and the brand creates a positive association with the country of origin. Now, the potential benefits of global branding are wide, in between them we can find the savings from the economies of scale and lower marketing costs, the quicker identification and integration of messages and innovations and getting ahead of international competitor from entering domestic markets and increasing international media reach (Daye & Van Auken, 2007).
But we have to be aware that nothing is absolute and global brand strategies have sometime difficulties or depend on the particular circumstances of the company and their markets. For instance, economies of scale not always can be reached, sometimes is cheaper and more effective to create ads locally that to import them and make adaptations for each local market. Forming successful global brand teams can be hard, because they need to gather and understand a great deal of information and finally global brands cannot just be imposed on all markets (Aaker & Joachimsthaler, 1999).
In summary, the evidence indicates that companies and customers can get more benefits by having global brands, but it is important to consider the local adaptation of the essence of the brand to the local culture.
The McDonald´s example
The company McDonald´s is a good example of how companies have to develop a profitable and accurate marketing communication plan, as Egan (2007) says, “The purpose of a marketing communication plan is to systematically set out an organization´s communications objective and devise strategies and tactics regarding how these might be achieved”.
One of the most import objectives of this company is continually “built its brand by listening to its consumers” (McDonald´s Corporation, 2008), that means pursuing customers’ satisfaction by giving to every key audience the product they need. For this they are meticulous and precise about the needs of potential customers, what product they could demand and the medias to reach them. For example, to achieve mothers with families, they use advertising space in cinemas during Disney films or if the target markets are single professional women, advertising in magazines like Cosmopolitan is used.
In the international arena, McDonald´s has used interesting strategies to build a global brand while maintaining some local promotion activities. One of those strategies involves their well-known Ronald McDonald clown, which practically does not appear in TV commercials, only publicizing in-store promotions because he has become McDonald´s point of differentiation in each market. He merges with the local culture celebrating Christmas in Northern Europe, the Chinese New Year in Honk Kong, promotes wine in France or Filed-o-Fish in Australia (Lindstrom, 2000), being an excellent example of thinking global but acting local.