Global vs Local Communications

Sabine Raabe
4 min readApr 28, 2022

As we recover from the pandemic shock, companies need to plan for a world where both globalisation and local priorities will continue to shift, with local relevance climbing the corporate agenda for global businesses. The pandemic called for a more agile business model to enable companies to stay closer to local suppliers and customers while reducing their operating risks. Businesses now have to strike the right balance between local market needs and global strategy, supported by the right communications strategies.

The rapid growth of the digital economy makes it important for brands to understand the cultural norms, target audiences, stakeholders, and regulatory policy across every market they operate in. The current move to localisation may not be with us to stay as countries will focus again on promoting global economic growth, but in the interim a brand and what it stands for needs to be expressed depending on location and cultural context and adapted to local needs and sensitivities. So how do you balance global with local communications?

Develop Your Strategy

The pandemic has had a profound effect on the way companies operate and communicate with their publics and customers. There is greater need for localisation of communications that aligns with relevant and most up-to-date in-country public policy and messaging to support national recovery efforts. An effective localisation strategy is a company’s plan and approach to adapting its content and messaging in different countries. This means addressing the language, culture, customer behaviour, and social norms. The goal is to present your brand as one created specifically for your target market, irrespective of their native language, local culture, or religion.

Know Your Audience

You cannot produce an effective localisation strategy without understanding your audience. There is important research that must be carried out to avoid potential damage to your brand reputation or even offend your target audience if you get your messaging wrong. Understand your target markets, languages spoken, the culture and societal attitudes, purchasing habits and behaviours, and the media landscape.

Part of carrying out local research is to get cultural nuances and imagery right. Consider your branding, as certain colours or symbols can have controversial meanings in different regions and cultures. Understanding your local audience is the most important part of your communications strategy, as it will provide the structure and platform for everything you do.

Corporate Communications

Corporate communicators must have a deep understanding of localism in establishing a company’s reputation in the domestic market whilst managing stakeholders’ expectations of the corporate entity. They need to turn global strategies into local communication plans, backed with evidence of the organisation’s commitment to the local market. The new environment we live in requires new behaviour, a new way of life and authentic interactions between people and organisations.

Autonomy

Tailoring corporate communications to local markets has become more important since the pandemic. At the same time, the media, pressure groups, influencers and investors have become global, and this global perspective has made local reputation critical. A local reputation issue can quickly grow into a global crisis. It is therefore vital to tailor global strategies to local circumstances and markets. The global strategy sets out the overall framework that then needs to be aligned to local needs with the two interconnected. The local communications team will require the right level of autonomy and expertise, as they are the ones navigating the local landscape.

Digital Channels

When a company embraces a comprehensive localised communications strategy, it will build rapport and influence customer engagement. Crafting the perfect localised communications strategy means researching how the target audience will consume your content online. Your company can strengthen its branding by dissecting factors such as whether your audience engages with your brand through mobile or desktop platforms and the type of language and keywords they use. By customising your localised communications campaign, you will create a unified digital brand experience that won’t get lost in translation.

Corporate Culture

With increased scrutiny of global corporates in domestic markets, communicators need to understand how to translate global strategy into authentic localised outputs that convey the organisation’s culture. Developing and maintaining a strong corporate culture internally is the starting point to then apply a specific market perspective and develop external communications that is authentic. That way the business ensures it is not communicating in one market in a way that contradicts with another.

Companies have to communicate with consistency to reinforce their common value set and proposition wherever they operate, whilst also understanding that different audiences have different needs and expectations.

We now live in a world where global brands can no longer apply a standardised communications strategy and need to achieve the right balance between globally consistent and locally relevant messaging. Certain future trends are common across all geographies, such as climate change, accelerating technological change, and economic transition. Communicators must develop the agility to enable continuous adaptation. The notion that an organisation and what it stands for can be expressed regardless of the location and cultural context no longer applies.

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Sabine Raabe

I help leaders craft their stories to #communicate and connect better. Think thought leadership, professional branding and reputation management.