International brands must respect local cultures to remain relevant in a changing world

The “idea” of globalization has taken somewhat of a beating… globally. This is reflected in everything from the (positive) rise of the locavore and supporting local businesses and farmers to the (negative) rise of nationalism, especially in the developed world, and the political decisions that have resulted.

So what does this mean for brands, especially international ones?

Given this global context, we are starting to hear more and more about “brand localization.” In other words, how do multinational brands speak to their customers on the local level? This idea goes beyond having to translate website content; it enables consumer connection on a personal level, builds a brand’s image in a way that is both accessible and unique, and, most importantly, respecting consumers’ native culture. In short, localization is about building trust. Because trust builds brand equity. And data helps: with expanding location-based data sets, brands can build stronger and smarter connections with consumers. This “new” global thinking is affecting the world of business and our clients now expect a strong and credible local presence and service from their partners, especially from global agencies like Bookmark.

Canada and Chile are two notable markets that are currently bucking the anti-globalization trend and our agency can’t take that for granted. Having lived and worked in both markets, I can attest to the fact that we have always adapted ourselves and our business to local clients, markets and cultures, and that attitude has become a central part of Bookmark’s DNA. That means we do not bring a one-size fits all templated approach to our clients. The new global reality demands agility and an ability to embrace fresh ideas and business solutions; an agency can’t simply fit their clients into its own worldview, as so many agencies do. We’re still very much committed to a celebration of all things global (and global expansion!) through a combination of the acquisition of local companies, and also through organic growth into new markets.

We are still proud globalists in the truest sense of the word: picking and choosing ideas and solutions – regardless of their origin – that are best for our clients and their customers. We have long championed local adaptation of content and business solutions that fit into a larger (or global) brand story. We know that brand stories must work at every level, and for every targeted consumer, in order to succeed. That is, in a way, the Bookmark brand story as well.