Lord of the Brand – Fellowship of the Regions

There was once a powerful seal. He would dive around the icy seas looking for large schools of fish. One day, he discovered a huge school of herring and mackerel circling the waves. He decided to share the great news with his friends – the dolphins. He started growling loudly, flapping his flippers excitedly, grunting and splashing. The dolphins noticed him, and started swimming away, thinking he was angry and upset that they had swum into his territory.

While this analogy from the mammal world shows how a difference in communication can lead to unintended interpretations, it is not too far from the human world of communication where how and what we say to whom can lead to completely different results.

Effective communication is all about saying what you want to say in the language of who you are saying it to. The term ‘language’ in this case, while it includes semantics and linguistic aspects, also encompasses a much broader spectrum such as micro-culture, popular sentiments, target audience preferences, geographical response patterns and lifestyle parameters. Designing a regional communication strategy therefore has to consider all of the above to ensure it meets its goal of positive brand recall.

Take any product or service that has a strong brand recall and consistent usage pattern or consumption pattern across multiple geographies. You will notice a consistent customisation of messaging, personalisation of visuals and well-articulated localised features/benefits that truly respect and celebrate the regional customers’ preferences and views.

Therefore when it comes to Corporate Communications, it is no different. One size does not fit all. And a vanilla-flavoured strategy is at best generic and disconnected from ground realities. So how do you tailor your communication for regional audiences. Here is a quick checklist that will help you – it is called the G.L.O.C.A.L. technique. A nice blend of local and global – localising your overall global value proposition.

G – Get real. Do your research. Understand your target audience by understanding all the various levers and parameters – their likes, dislikes, preferences, world views, emotional anchors, consumption patterns, and so on. Regionalise your research so that you develop true empathy and respect for your audience.

L – Leverage historical data. You do not have to re-invent or re-discover and burn cash in ground-up research if crucial data points (validated and proven) are already available in the public domain. Look at how other communicators have successfully leveraged these data points in their communication campaigns and strategy and what their success ratio has been.

O – Operate on a pilot basis first. Test your strategy with a smaller focus group in the initial stage, and invite your audience’s views and honest feedback. When you receive the feedback, analyse it meticulously for lessons learnt and ensure you quickly incorporate the changes. When you show care, positive intent and speed in including their views and edits, you nurture invaluable trust and establish credibility as a communicator.

C – Customise. Tailor. Make it bespoke. For every regional audience you want to communicate with, craft your communication plan to include the levers you have identified in the first step i.e. audience research. Speak your target audience’s language, select the communication platform they like best, tweak the frequency and content to meet their needs, and deliver it the way they would like to hear, respecting their localised preferences.

A – Accelerate measurement. Ensure you are constantly measuring the impact of your communication strategy – be it on digital media, physical media or omni channel. Have a strong pulse on the various communication metrics that will show you the return on your investment and the brand impact you had originally set for yourself.

L – Look for new possibilities. What worked previously may not work in the present. Constantly stay in touch with your target audience’s evolving needs and preferences, and keep your communication strategy fluid and nimble through the year. Agility is key to regional communication, so that it truly becomes a voice that stays current with your audience.

As the world continues to become flatter and more inter-connected, communication is taking on a whole new universal avtaar. And yet, it is the millions of regional touch points and localised nuances that make communications truly effective in its larger canvas.

The views expressed here are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of Reputation Today.

Smita Venkataraman
Smita Venkataraman is a social entrepreneur in the field of heritage arts and education. With over 20 years of award winning career experience in HR and Corporate Communications, Smita has worked in senior leadership roles across several prestigious global organisations.

Certified in digital marketing and business management, she is an alumna of IIM Bangalore and Columbia Business School, and a published author.

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