Global Brand Purpose: Embracing The New Cultural Era

The New Era of Global Marketing

In the past, global marketing has been about the big ad campaign that preached a brand message to consumers. Now, the tables have turned. In the new era of global marketing, consumers are leading the conversation and brands must listen to what they’ve got to say.

According to Edelman, 62% of consumers want today’s brands to have strong ethical values, and to infuse those authentically into everything they do. So, brands need to start taking a more human approach to their global marketing. But finding a relevant purpose, pursuing it with integrity and achieving total transparency is no easy task. More than ticking off buzzwords, it’s about making deeper and long-lasting connections with audiences.


  1. On Purpose, With Purpose
  2. Delivering global purpose to local markets
  3. Diversity First
  4. Sustainability 2.0

On purpose, with purpose

When it comes to purpose driven marketing, being remembered for doing the right thing, in the right way is a real struggle for modern brands. For global brands, it gets even more complicated as their global purpose has to resonate with vastly different local audiences around the world.

With that in mind, here are some learnings all global brands should remember when planning their purpose marketing strategy:

  • Achieve authenticity: Brands must recognise how their customers use their product or service, and the role their product or service plays in the wider world. Then they must ask themselves how they can adapt and improve their offering in order to make a long term, positive impact.
  • Analyse internal workings: A company’s internal workings should reflect any external communications when it comes to ethics. To do this, companies need to analyse their inner workings, setting out clear KPIs based on purpose-led initiatives and actively tracking how well they are achieving their purpose, from a company standpoint.
  • Use market insights: To avoid making dangerous assumptions, global marketers should feed local insights into their purpose marketing strategy. That way local purpose – not the overarching brand purpose – can dictate any in-market activations.
  • Assess the local situation: Brands must remember that markets have very different attitudes towards social and political matters such as gender, sexuality, diversity or sustainability. If a market’s current social, political or cultural situation is incredibly heated on a certain topic, brands should be prepared for negative reactions and decide whether they are prepared to face the potential controversy.
  • Approach activism with care: If a brand is trying to further a cause, provoking a response amongst the masses can be a great method. But brands should ensure that the provocative marketing doesn’t detract from the real issue at hand.

While all of this might sound like hard work, the hard work will pay off. According to Edelman, 80% of global consumers want brands to ‘solve society’s problems’. So, brands with a clear purpose will connect with modern audiences in a deeper, more resonant way.

Delivering global purpose to local markets

On a global scale, successful purpose driven marketing is informed by local insight, and powered by a carefully considered strategy. We interviewed Freedman’s very own Global Strategy Director, Matthias Gray for the inside scoop.

Here are some key insights from our discussion:

  • Good consumer understanding is an essential ingredient for agility. Setting up journeys and ways of working that revolve around the consumer will make drawing the line from global to local a lot easier.
  • Authenticity shouldn’t be a buzzword. Authenticity should be an ethical standard for organisations, ensuring that they act faithfully towards themselves and towards their consumers.
  • Brands must walk the walk, using proof points to support any promise or claim from a consumer and brand perspective (e.g. features). They should also drive change locally to be truly effective on a global scale.
  • Many brands fail to extend their purpose narrative meaningfully to where people experience the brand: in their local markets, in their channels, in their language and through the lens of their culture. So, it’s key to substantiate the brand’s purpose through on-the-ground initiatives.
  • The key to understanding a different cultural viewpoint is to work with experts in-market that not only speak the language, but who also have the ability to identify relevant aspects of the challenge and can interpret them accordingly.

Diversity First

Now more than ever, marketers must ensure that their marketing is respectful and inclusive, while retaining its distinctiveness. Beyond the moral imperative of fairer representation and communication, brands can truly benefit from more diversity:

  • A more diverse approach to marketing provides marketers with more in-depth knowledge of their audience, and ultimately a tool for better conversion and brand fidelity.
  • Younger generations have higher expectations when it comes to a brand’s social responsibility. They look to brands for authentic commitment in helping bring about societal change, especially with topics like diversity. So, brands who achieve diversity and inclusion can better connect with this growing customer base.

However, achieving diversity in global marketing is incredibly complex as behaviours and attitudes towards diversity differ from one market to another. So, how can marketers make their global content more diverse and inclusive while staying true to their brand?

  • Make sure marketing teams aren’t uniform: If they are, the company should consider reviewing the recruitment process for fairer opportunities.
  • Work with expert partner agencies: Seek out agencies who understand the importance of diverse opinions and backgrounds.
  • Tackle unconscious bias: Marketing professionals should educate themselves on the history of minorities and systems of oppression to undo any biases or preconceptions.
  • Think about inclusion: Brands must remember that it’s not only important to feature diversity in campaigns, it’s also crucial to consider how people belonging to the minority group will feel about the campaign.
  • Use insights: Brands need cultural insight in order to portray diversity in an authentic and inclusive way. Marketers should seek out insights on how minority groups feel, what their challenges are, and how brands can help.

Sustainability 2.0

Today’s consumers want brands to view sustainability as a top priority. A recent worldwide survey from GlobalWedIndex discovered that, as a result of Covid-19, 3 in 4 consumers are expecting brands to do more in terms of sustainability.

So, how can brands communicate their sustainable practices and inspire consumers to go green, without falling into the trap of greenwashing?

  • Prioritise clear communication: As greenwashing becomes more and more subtle, brands must seek to tell the truth in a simple way in order to build honest relationships with their customers. Check out Veja’sTransparency page for a great example.
  • Go down the creative route: When it comes to using creative ways to talk about green consumption, look to brands like IKEA – their Green Guides 2020 campaign are a great place to start.
  • Work with influencers: Brands can also partner with exciting influencers to change the narrative around sustainable shopping practices. In 2020, Selfridges and Oxfam joined forces for #SecondHandSeptember. Boundary-pushing actor and writer Michaela Coel starred in the campaign’s second hand photo shoot, adding excitement to the in-market activation.
  • Dismantle planned obsolescence: According to a European Commission survey, 79% of EU citizens think that companies should make their tech products easier to repair, and improve access to replacement parts. Tech brands must offer customers opportunities to repair their products and make these services easier to access.

And what small changes can companies make now, to prepare for a more ecological future?

  • Embrace renewable energy across the manufacturing process.
  • Regularly review product designs to see if materials used can be upgraded to more eco-friendly ones.
  • Set out realistic goals and commitments for reducing carbon footprint – Danone’s ‘Climate Policy’ is a great example of this in action.
  • Analyse how suppliers operate and check that they’re doing all they can to improve their environmental impact.
  • Think about carbon offsetting by planting trees, etc. Although, it is worth noting that many environmentalists argue carbon offsetting only works if companies are actively trying to reduce their carbon emissions in other ways.

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