Learn the visual language of successful global brands

Charles Young

Coca-Cola, Disney, Dove, IBM, Intel, Nestlé, Marlboro, McDonald's, Mercedes, Nissan, Samsung and Toyota – all are exemplars of scalability applied to branding.

They have achieved the elite status of becoming global brands; these brand names mean something to disparate consumers in China and India, France and Germany, Brazil and the US. Importantly, they mean pretty much the same thing from one country to another, because standing for something that is important and constant over time is an important part of defining what a brand is.

To scale up a brand to a global level requires a great deal of co-ordination and consistency of execution. More than a decade ago, IBM rocked the advertising world by simultaneously firing more than 40 ad agencies around the world and consolidating its advertising business in one shop, Ogilvy & Mather. At the time, it claimed it did so to 'speak with one voice'. This was the discipline IBM's then chief executive, Lou Gerstner, felt was required to rebuild a global brand in a rapidly changing, hi-tech world.