Global Branding Unveiled: Crafting Personal and Corporate LegendsKristin Luck
Just a few days ago I hosted an encore session of one of my all-time favorite panel discussions from ESOMAR Congress in Amsterdam this past September: “Global Branding Unveiled: Crafting Personal and Corporate Legends.” The panel discussion featured global branding experts from diverse cultural and geographic backgrounds, offering perspectives shaped by their rich global career experiences.
I was joined again by marketing and branding experts Nikki Lavoie of Savanta, Pravin Shekar of KREA, and Seyi Adeoye of Pierrine Consulting for a dynamic discussion on the art and science of building an influential corporate AND personal brand across borders.
While we covered a ton of ground, from leveraging employee influencers to navigating cross-cultural nuances, one universal theme underpinned it all: the indispensable value of authenticity.
Whether leading with your personal brand or cultivating a global corporate powerhouse, authenticity fosters connection and cultivates enduring trust. This provides the foundation for real growth.
In this post, I’ll recap key insights from our discussion on utilizing authenticity to craft iconic brands, including:
- Owning your origin story
- Storytelling for global branding appeal
- Managing maverick personalities
- The role of consistent values
- Transferring trust between domains
- The authenticity advantage
Owning Your Origin Story
Seeking global resonance without diluting their roots presents a common tension for brands.
How can you expand beyond borders while retaining ties to your national heritage?
The key is discovering which aspects of that native brand identity lend itself to universal appeal. As Nikki described, a French winemaker seeking international growth might realize instead of treating “Frenchness” as superficial packaging, they must dig to uncover their authentic attributes and values that signal excellence: perhaps savoir-faire, innovative thinking, or dedication to craft, then carry those through consistent messaging across markets.
Of course, communications must adapt to avoid cultural disconnects or offense. For example, Africa cannot be viewed as just “one country” with singular marketing needs - each country within the continent has nuanced expectations and narratives that resonate locally.
Seyi noted that communication cues triggering desired responses in South Africa may not land the same in Nigeria. Brands must grasp subtle differences in tone and meaning to craft messaging that addresses cultural nuance across borders.
Brands refusing to shift any aspects of branding risk stalled growth beyond their native walls. Shedding outdated tropes and refreshing visual identities keeps core values fresh rather than abandoning them.
Storytelling for Global Branding Appeal
Beyond surface traits like name and visuals, storytelling represents a powerful tool for brands seeking global appeal. By conveying the functional and emotional cornerstones of the brand through compelling narratives shaped to align with local cultures, the essence of what a product or service delivers to customers remain coherent across geographies.
Purpose-driven stories tap into universal human motivations and foster empathy to ignite engagement across languages or socioeconomic differences. Stories speak to who the brand fundamentally seeks to serve at its core. Communicating this clearly and repeatedly fosters connection.
Managing Maverick Personalities
Dynamic organizations house multiple personal brands spanning edgy creatives to dependable loyalists. Within any brand, tensions inevitably arise from employees pulling the mothership in divergent directions.
What happens when outsized personalities threaten continuity?
Embrace diverse perspectives as long as they align with ethical North Stars. After all, brands and employees connect through shared values, not uniformity. Nikki said, “We’re just sort of figuring out we’re living in the center of the Venn diagram, that is our sort of joint value sets.”
Training and oversight remains necessary to ensure external consistency. But brands confident enough in their foundations to publicly air varied internal positions demonstrate compelling transparency, often lacking when hiding behind a stiff inflexible corporate facade. Highlighting varying personas on your team signals confidence and builds authentic connections by giving customers a glimpse of employee truths behind the curtain.
The Role Of Consistent Values
While communication styles and visual identities require localization, consistent brand values glue disparate markets together and guide adaptation decisions. As Nikki Lavoie described regarding Savanta, “The most important thing is to establish the brand values because realistically, the brand values should be true to who you are as a company...and consistent across markets.”
When core values align with ethical North Stars, guardrails emerge that support the global brand while retaining ties to the company's founding identity and purpose. Regional executives can then flex tactical elements appropriate for their specific audiences without undermining the central global mission. Unity arises from shared beliefs, not uniformity across surface attributes.
Transferring Trust Between Corporate and Personal Domains
Vibrant personal brands like Pravin’s can provide rocket fuel to advance both corporate and personal brands simultaneously, yet, avoiding divergence requires careful navigation.
When launching his agency, KREA, Pravin occupied both individual and organizational identities simultaneously as his personal credibility lifted the venture during its infancy. But eventually, realizing the need for distinct branding to avoid consumer confusion, he defined a unique purpose and visual identity for each domain while maximizing the overlap where his personal interests and his company’s interests intersect.
Generating trust between personal and corporate lanes only occurs when linked by shared values and priorities.
The Authenticity Advantage
In an omni-channel environment where brand myths and facades crack instantly under scrutiny, companies courageous enough to reveal authentic truths - no matter how vulnerable - reap legions of devotees. When consumers glimpse real personalities, motivations, and flaws behind contrived messaging, loyalty surges.
“It’s about the quality of what you bring to the table that sets you apart,” Nikki noted on distinguishing brands amid intensifying market noise and clutter.
The path to icon status involves self-discovery, radical transparency, and consistently embodying purpose through actions rather than one-off campaigns. Remaining loyal to core values in all cross-border communication and adjusting the more "superficial" elements of a brand to fit local contexts helps build connections that would not be possible with one-size-fits-all programs. By deploying authenticity as your guiding light, you’ll earn genuine customer trust and loyalty, illuminating the way to legendary growth!
Need assistance with your company’s global branding strategy? Hoping to supercharge your personal brand in 2024 but aren't sure where to start? Reach out to us.