Steven Amir, Ex-Head of Marketing and Effectiveness at De Beers Group, discusses new ways to build a stronger brand from a ‘glocal’ perspective.

Read the whitepaper 'Local, global or glocal: Effective brand governance in the age of marketing transformation' here.

Headshot of Steven Amir

Steven Amir, Ex-Head of Marketing and Effectiveness, De Beers Group

How much more complex has it become to govern global brands these days?

In our case we have a new strategy, which is to build one DeBeers. As a luxury brand, we need to have consistency – focus is power. We operate in very diverse markets in terms of maturity – for example from the US, which is very mature, to China, which is relatively new but extremely fast growing. What we want to do is have a consistent brand and tone of voice whilst understanding that the relative level of maturity means we need to bring local voices into the mix. We now have a global media agency and a global lead creative agency, we work with. We’ve found that we’re better together, sharing trends across markets and appealing to a customer that is essentially global.

What model do you use for globalisation?

We use a glocal model. We start with a deep understanding of each market then we create a global campaign but, in delivery and activation, it feels local. There’s a strategic area which is led by global and then at an executional level, local leads it. But you need consistency in your brand codes – common phrases, colour palettes, the logo, distinctive assets – we need all of this to build brand equity. Too much localisation creates too much proliferation, and with that comes a lack of understanding of who you are as a brand. Anything that gets created in the markets comes back to the central brand team, so we make sure we're respecting those codes.

How do you fix things when they go wrong?

We used to have very different campaigns in each market. But that wasn’t helping our brand equity at all. So what we did was engage so people understood why that wasn’t working. Now everyone believes in and buys into the unique brand platform which we're building right now. We really listened to our clients, and went back to the market and shared it with them.

Then you need to reinforce change by selling quick wins, celebrating successes, and also pivoting and optimising response.

Any lessons you can provide for others embarking on a globalisation project?

Both global and local markets have to listen to each other because there's merit in both and I think you need to really understand your client and your market. I don't think there's a one size fits all approach to this. People can come in with a very strong view and they really need to understand the environment that they're in and apply what is appropriate, based on the life cycle. I think you articulate that this is here to help us build a stronger brand, and we're here to win together. That's what worked for us.

We took a big step in getting a global media agency to help us grow our share of voice. But that in turn, in terms of capacity, was a huge job to go through the procurement process and bring them on board.

You really need to pick where you want to spend your time. If you centralise everything, you’ll find that you can’t cope with that much work.

What do you use to distribute your brand guidelines?

We have a document that lives on a team site online, that is updated frequently as we expand into new channels and markets, and we see what’s working and what’s not through our data. We’re updating it often, as it really transformed our brand. We also use a global work management tool to manage projects and update on changes to the brand guidelines.