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Design & Technology November 14, 2014

How to Balance Global Digital Consistency with Local Needs

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As businesses grow and expand into international markets, they are met with the challenge of ensuring consistency across their global platforms.

Centralising the management of digital communications can result in cost savings and global brand consistency, but balancing this with the need to be flexible to the unique demands, requirements and opportunities of local markets can be tricky.

In addition to the operational and translation complexities, organisations may also be facing considerations such as:

  • The same services/products are not always available in every market, from both a product/market fit and a legal/regulatory compliance point of view.
  • Companies and products may use different names for different markets.
  • Marketing messages can vary depending on localised issues.

We have undertaken many global roll-out projects; here are our recommendations for how to manage this challenge:

Global operating model

Thought needs to be given to the governance, processes and operating model for digital from day one. The global operating model for digital can affect the design and technical decisions that need to be made, so needs to be carefully considered early on in any re-platform or re-design project. No one approach is best, as it depends on many internal factors.

Appoint digital champions

Some countries will be more digitally mature than others. These mature markets will either have past experience and success, or have sufficient marketing resource to staff digital efforts.

Use these countries as digital champions, and pair them with more immature (but preferably similar in nature), markets. Champions will be able to share good practice approaches, and offer coaching to build confidence and grow the skillset of the teams in their partnered markets.

Don’t assume that these champions will be the larger markets. A knowledgeable colleague working in a smaller market can still achieve a lot using digital techniques, and may have more real life experiences to share with larger country teams.

Create an exemplar website version

Specifically for CMS driven websites, the global (central) team should create an exemplar version of a country website, which shows off the flexibility of the CMS templates, related modules and components.

Creating a good practice website provides many benefits, from demonstrating how to achieve a particular page composition, to providing a repository where time-poor marketing and web managers in local countries can copy from.

Learnings and real life successes made by local teams can then be replicated in this example site, to share knowledge across the global digital community.

Pre-build website elements and design systems

Have clear and usable front end design systems and pattern libraries (pre-built HTML/CSS user interface elements), that can be used by the local teams to quickly create new page layouts and forms. This will ensure that they comply with centrally-maintained brand guidelines.

 

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Consider economies of scale for maximising return on budgets

Investigate how internal budgets can be made to go further by applying economies of scale. For example, a successful model we have seen in a number of larger organisations is where the local marketing departments commit to a relatively small (e.g. $25k) annual charge to the central team for new features and developments. When pooled with another 29 local market websites, the central development fund would stand at $750k, enabling more ambitious features to be tackled and rolled out across all sites.

In practice

Dept specialise in building the digital capabilities of complex and global organisations, to help them increase revenue, develop relationships and improve efficiency.

Our client Adama Agricultural Solutions Ltd – a leading agrochemcial manufacturer and distributor -recently undertook a global project across over 45 operating markets, to bring all subsidiaries together under one new brand, with centralised digital management.

The digital challenge

  • Over 45 markets operating under 40 different brand names, offering hundreds of product brands and services.
  • Disjointed brand and messaging requiring.
  • Different content management systems being used in each market.
  • Differing digital maturity levels across the markets.
  • Eighteen-month re-branding project, with three month window for website build and initial rollout.

The result within three months:

  • Mobile-first, touch-optimised website.
  • Centralised, global content management system.
  • Complex translation platform.
  • New governance, processes and digital operating model.
  • Hosted in the cloud and served by geo-redundant datacentres.
  • 100% up-time since go live in April.
  • No deadlines missed.

In eight months, we have rolled out 41 websites to 39 markets and delivered training to 33 markets in 7 global hubs.

Adama recently won the prestigous Agrow Award for Best Marketing Campaign for this global re-branding project.

Questions? We are here to help!