Good Localization Habits from Top Global Brands

When it comes to global brands, image and reputation is everything, especially with consumer products. Brand messages should transcend language to really have an effect anywhere in the world. Globalization and localization is not just about linguistic translation. It includes lifestyle, values, culture and many more local concerns.

Here are some global brands featured in Interbrand’s Best 100 Global Brands of 2014 list and how they have managed to keep their appeal worldwide.

The beverage producer Coca-Cola comes in at number three on the best global brands list. It is easy to see why, with its iconic logo and effective marketing campaigns. The company describes itself as a “global business that operates on a local scale.

Coca-Cola has managed to stay at the top of their game for 129 years by responding to their consumers’ wants and needs. Coca-Cola Life is the company’s answer to the global market becoming more health and eco-conscious. First distributed in Argentina in June 2013, their Coca-Cola Life advertisements focused on the bottle being recyclable. The drink contains a third less sugar than Classic Coke and has 89 calories in a can; something heavily emphasized in the United Kingdom.

Although Coca-Cola noticed the change in attitude in the global market, they also realized that these changes differ from country to country. A good example of how global brand localization is not always about straight linguistic translation. It must also,consider many factors that contribute to the success of a global product at a local “geo” and language consumer level. Research helped Coca-Cola to market their new drink based on each country’s specific consumer desires and requirements.

Toyota is the automotive champion in the Interbrand’s best 100 global brands of 2014 report, rising two places to number eight. The car manufacturer overtook fellow automotive brand BMW in 2013 and has stayed in the automotive top-spot ever since. Toyota also came in at number two on the Best Global Green Brands of 2014 (perhaps due to its famous hybrid car the Toyota Prius). In 2013, 75% of all hybrid cars bought in Europe were from Toyota.

Toyota has two marketing companies: one primarily for Japan and one for the rest of the world. This was done in a bid to make their marketing materials more specialized.  It forms a part of their “genchi genbutsu” principle, which means “go and see” in Japanese. The meaning behind it is that in order to solve a problem you must go to the place where it occurred. In order for them to have marketing material and communications that appeal to the global market, they create a marketing brand especially for purpose.

H&M, a recognized international brand leader, has recently responded to consumers becoming more aware of how their products are made. The Swedish fast fashion retailer (number 21 in the best global brands of 2014) released its Conscious Collection line in 2012. The line consists of clothes made from hemp, organic cotton and recycled polyester. The messages of the Conscious Collection line was important to the campaign and varied in each country. In the Anglophone world, the seriousness of workers’ safety and growing organic cotton is discussed, whereas for the Chinese market polyester fiber was described as a demanding fiber to cultivate and un-recyclable.

As with Coca-Cola, H&M has not simply translated their global marketing campaign into another language; they considered the lifestyle, values, and even concerns of their target markets.

H&M has 3,500 stores in 57 markets around the world with and throughout their website, sustainability seems to be one of their core values. Their website has only eight languages; however, with first-tier languages such as English, Chinese and French, they can reach a large percentage of the consumer market.

From these examples it seems as if dedication and research of a market is the key to success in localization. A global LSP, like Welocalize, can show consumer global brands the best way of communicating with a targeted global customers in local markets – not just in the right language and dialect but in non-verbal ways too. Considering all brand characteristics and adapting them to local markets is essential if you are to successfully present your brand to the world.

Special note, Welocalize does not currently work directly with the brands mentioned in this post.  We are offering general industry observations about global brands listed in the published report Interbrand’s Best 100 Global Brands of 2014. The opinions expressed in this post are not an endorsement nor representative of a customer relationship.


Louise Donkor is a Marketing and Communications Specialist at Welocalize