November 02, 2016

Globalization and digital mobility have helped brands obtain borderless consumers. Brands must now interchange worldviews, ideas, and other aspects of culture through their storytelling and packaging — working hard to get it right.

Attached to their devices, millennials make up 21% of consumer discretionary purchases, which is estimated to be over a trillion dollars in direct buying power, playing a huge influence on older generations. This means, maintaining brand consistency both online and offline is more important than ever when it comes to creating a strong design.

But every generation isn’t treated equally. As each market and country has different lifestyles and cultures, the approach of how to drive the emotional appeal for each brand should be localized and tailored whilst maintaining brand equity.

Reiko Nakamura, managing director at Schawk/Anthem Japan, recently spoke at Tokyo Pack 2016, hosted by the Japan Packaging Institute. As the topic of brand localization continues to buzz around the marketing and design industries, we sat down with Reiko to discuss why it’s so important, and 3 ways brands can succeed with a strong localized design strategy.

READ: Why Should Global Brands Worry About Li Ning?

Brand localization is an imperative need for consumers in each country to feel that the brand they are purchasing from is personalized to their needs. Some multi-nationals emphasize that they originate from overseas to appear premium, yet are still keen to drive the emotional appeal to the consumer.

Especially for fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) and daily necessities, lifestyle behaviors can impact packaging.

The 3 key factors that impact localized packaging include:

  • The purpose of each usage
  • How to use it
  • The location of use

For example, whilst some countries have a common practice of sharing one toothbrush within the family, others prefer to have their own. In developing countries like Vietnam or the Philippines, daily necessities like shampoo and soap are commonly bought in smaller pack sizes versus Western countries like the US where bulk packaging is a common practice.


WATCH: Men’s Beauty Going Big in Asia: What Can Western Brands Learn?

Brands can start by learning the basics of the language, including the jargon, commonly use idioms, slang words and if there is any form of creole language present in that country. Different colors may also demonstrate cultural nuances, like yellow and red in Thailand, purple in India and red in China.

“Seeking clarification, especially on final artwork prior to print or broadcast is important to ensure that all the information is accurate,” says Nakamura.

This can also be achieved by engaging translators or copywriters where necessary. It also helps to understand how many and which languages are spoken, like in Singapore where there are four official languages and a multi-racial community. This makes brand consistency so important — especially if it aims to be trusted. With digitalization, globalization and an increase in accessibility across borders, the frequency of seeing the same brand in different countries increases.

To enhance the trust of consumers and to avoid replication and fabrication of your brand, here are 3 tips for creating a strong localized design:

Follow brand guidelines. In order for your brand to succeed with a localized design strategy, it is important to maintain branding standards that make sense for consumers. Of course, these guidelines will include the logo, color, and graphic elements, but includes the imaginary tone and manner of the brand as a whole. After all, your consumers need to be able to recognize the brand globally as well.

Execute a color management program. The reason why we need to manage color is to be consistent. Details matter, and should be monitored thoroughly so the same colous are consistent with the brand. Imagine how it would be like if Coca-Cola had a different shade of red for their iconic bottle. In fact, many brand owners and global brand giants measure color with tools or systems such as X-Rite or ESKO. Most importantly, they understand the repercussions of color inconsistency and how it can affect brand equity. The little things do make a difference.

Optimize workflow. From research to launch, the speed of product development is faster, day-by-day. Successful brands are always able to adapt the speed of marketing with technology, executing them to near perfection. One of the key drivers to success is how workflow can be optimized to avoid miscommunication and improve efficiency in a sustainable manner. Similar to establishing brand guidelines, there must be rules to data management. For example, the naming of files, how an organization organizes their folders or cleans up files in artwork layers. Additionally, there must be stringent quality control of artwork design files in order to improve productivity.

Change is the most important part of growth in business. By managing a sustainable and effective workflow process, and by understanding consumer insights, brands may maintain equity by executing localization.

Read more about growing your brand here: Strategies for Growth: Making Change Work to Your Brand’s Advantage


About Reiko Nakamura: With over 20 years of experience in global branding development and deployment, Reiko knows what it takes to succeed in package design production. With expertise in FMCG, retail, pharma and the entertainment industry, Reiko holds a strong roster of client partnerships with brands including Unilever, Coca-Cola, KAO, Mars, Japan Tobacco and P&G.