TOKYO: Many international brands struggle to reconcile global and local marketing strategies with brand consistency but Nissan has developed an approach that permits flexibility within bounds.

Roel de Vries, the automaker's global head of marketing and brand strategy, told Campaign Japan how Nissan is balancing the demands of being a global vehicle manufacturer with the marketing needs of different territories.

"You can't have a centralised development of your product with a decentralised interpretation of that product," he stated.

"We make decisions on our products five years out. If we allow regions to go in their own direction in the short term, the chances that that will match in the long term are very small."

He highlighted the sort of inconsistencies he'd found, which ranged from technical difference in areas like logo sizing, placement and use of colour, to more emotional aspects such as messaging alternating between "funny" and "serious".

"Nobody in his right mind would argue that that's the right thing to do," said de Vries.

Accordingly, the business has been careful in how it delegates authority. "We were very specific in saying, these areas we get involved in, and these areas we don't get involved in," he explained.

"It's change-management – a long process of continuous discussions, which is in my view very much the future of marketing," he added. "You cannot live in isolation of the rest of the organisation."

So Nissan has worked with local advertising agencies while ensuring they get briefed from the centre.

"We're getting pretty close now where we have a very clear central brand and then many local interpretations that need to be consistent over time," said de Vries.

"In the first two or three seconds of an ad, you should already get that it's Nissan," he said. "If you don't achieve that, the rest is irrelevant."

Data sourced from Campaign Asia-Pacific; additional content by Warc staff