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The Case for Global Branding

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Two hands painted with the world map.

It’s every marketer’s dream that their beloved brand be viewed consistently everywhere it’s promoted in the world. Everything we have learned is that in order to gain traction, visual and messaging continuity are essential in to imbed our brand in the hearts and minds of our target audience. As we become more of a global community, it could be argued that it’s more important than ever. There are huge gains to be had from successfully achieving a global brand; a consistent position, a consistent message, more streamlined resourcing (reduced costs).However, the nature of pharmaceutical products and our heavily regulated marketplaces represent a significant challenge in achieving the goal of a singular look and feel around the world. Our brand in Canada may have a different name, and/or different indications. And to further complicate matters, what we can say about a drug in Canada, will likely differ from the regulations in Europe or the US where the global marketing team may be headquartered. The concept, as developed by a global marketing team, will often reflect those local sensitivities and cannot always account for the impact in other countries. It is not unusual for a global concept to be so specific in its intent and message (as it should be), that it is entirely outside of the regulations in another market, representing a major challenge for global consistencyAs an example, we were provided a global concept template that compared the revolutionary nature of a new therapy to the conquering of Mt. Everest and Man landing on the Moon. Just imagine what PAAB’s reaction to those kinds of promises might be…  Undaunted, we set about developing a concept that expressed, within our code, the spirit of the global concept and emulating the visual treatment used. Canadian physicians seeing the global concept at an international meeting would be able to connect the dots, attach the same benefits, experience the same emotions.Another subtlety we’ve come across when dealing with brands headquartered in the EU, is that aesthetically and creatively, Europeans don’t always see things the same way we do in North America. There is often the risk that it won’t translate appropriately to North American sensitivities. A decision needs to be made to adapt creatively to the degree possible and practical from these concepts or cut a uniquely Canadian creative path.

There is a reality we’ll need to face when it comes to global branding. 80% of the revenues generated by our clients will come from the US and major European markets. As such, the future of global branding is out of our hands as it will align with the needs of those dominant markets. Our job has been and will continue to be to find the best creative and messaging compromise that can enable the global vision to be recognized in Canada. If anything, this taps more so into our need to be ‘creative’ than a blank canvas.

Can we expect a stronger drive towards a mandated global creative and messaging approach for our Canadian brands? Yes, it’s likely. As always, we’ll be ready.

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