The Making of International Brand: Knowing How and What to Centralize and Localize

The Making of International Brand: Knowing How and What to Centralize and Localize

In the building of a startup, what should an entrepreneur localize and where should they globalize?

The world in the past few decades has become smaller and smaller, creating emerging opportunities for businesses due to the technology proliferation and the impact of the internet especially. the internet and other emerging technology has had an enormous impact on how transactions are carried out reducing the bottlenecks to buying and selling, opening up access to broader markets for brands looking for growth. The evolution in the tech sector continues to impact consumer behavior. The implication of this is that brands cannot afford to remain static so as to avoid the risk of stagnation or obsolescence.


Innovation is no longer what any business should pay lip service or abdicate interest in; it has become the differential that distinguishes brands and their lifeline for every organisation that would be recognized and remain dominant in the global market. When brands fail to innovate, extinction is the result. Global success in the market place is now more tied to how brands innovate, such that, brands like Blackberry, which ignored the move to touchscreens die from obsolescence. Your brand shouldn’t be a victim.

How can a brand owner or manger predict what’s coming? It’s not just about what the renowned brands are doing. The next market disruptor could also be a startup. We’ve seen distruptors like Flutterwave and other tech startups in Africa are recreating performance in the finance industry. Skincare cream as part of a startup is also making waves such that one skincare care recently signed a partnership with L’Oreal — the goddess of skincare. Products and services of startups can get noticed by big players when done right.

Navigating the entrepreneurial seas

In general, startups have proving their agility than big businesses and are have a greater tendency spark disruptions in the global marketplace. They are also going global earlier in their growth trajectory than ever before just because they can take advantage of an international market to increase their operational yields.

With global access comes a dilemma though. The dilemma as to what should be centralized or localized has to be resolved for any startup that would make global impact. this is because, tapping into different multiple markets doesn’t happen with ease. Brand custodians must take myriads of decisions about what should be done and manage audience perceptions as per their product or service with respect to the different cultural backgrounds, languages or even the belief system s across different spectrum.

In an ideal world, a startup would come up with a great product or service, put it out there with some clever marketing and swiftly be rewarded with customer take-up. It seems, though, that taking a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work when it comes to brand-building. Centralization can bring advantages, lowering costs and making the most of a company’s best products and marketing ideas, but it can also miss the mark in a less familiar market.

What Should Startups keep local, expand or diversify?

The balance of global efficiency with local effectiveness is a necessity in today’s workplace and this helps to clarify on how products or service affects the customer’s experience with the brand. When a product affects customer experience, brands should seek to maximize effectiveness by prioritizing localization. When it doesn’t, global efficiency of the brand should be prioritized.

Centralization and localization can coexist depending on the mix that fits the brand and its market context. Many examples of manufacturers marketing the same product under different brand names (cocoa crisps in the U.S. are called cocoa pops in Australia); or the same product with a different formula (Mexican Coca-Cola is made with cane sugar, while American Coca-Cola is made with high fructose corn syrup); or creating a product specifically for the local market (in Shanghai, KFC serves Peking duck burgers).

Innovate or Rust?

The universal acceptability of a product should not necessarily interfere with localizing the marketing message. This is because, there abounds examples of errors in translation that can lead to costly product failures just as there are an equal number of errors in cultural translation.

Startups are to note that the most important issue in building an international brand isn’t the issue of whether to go global; it’s the issue of how to go global. Attention must be given to the delicate contextualizing of how to create a global brand and also still be flexible and innovative enough to maintain relevance in each market. This is because, innovation as a process must end with a product. Within our evolving world, we must situate our brands to adapt and evolve too. The brands that would lead the pack and be the big brands of tomorrow are those that understands the intersection between centralization and localization.

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