Local brands versus global brands

Global brands in a local context: How the right imagery will advance your company

Companies and brands today are expected to get in touch with their target groups at the local level. For marketing this means not only the localization of all communication materials, but also the visual appearance of the company has to be adapted for the target groups in different countries or regions. Local markets are unique, just like the consumers themselves. In this context one often hears the motto “Think global, act local”. But what does this mantra mean for visual brand identity and how can you ensure that global expansion doesn't come at the expense of local customer experience?

Authenticity and relevance as success factors

Companies and brands come into contact with their target groups through countless channels at the local level. This increases the need for content for striking brand experiences at the various touchpoints - especially in online marketing. Relevance and authenticity are the most important factors when it comes to attracting the attention of the target groups and delighting the audience in the long term. Companies therefore have to speak the language of their consumers - and this is especially true of the imagery.

Pictures convey emotions

Pictures generate emotions and arouse desires, they inspire, fascinate and impress, but - if used incorrectly - they can also do the opposite. The targeted use of images helps corporate communication to visualize everything that we perceive and process through our eyes. Feelings and senses are addressed. Target groups perceive the visual much more intensely than, for example, written text. The effect of advertising has already been researched many times. Marketing experts know that the brain responds predominantly to emotional advertisements. Emotions are mainly caused by stimuli that address the right hemisphere. This also includes, in particular, images, moving images, infographics and the like. These are also felt to be very credible. The emotions conveyed through images should correspond to the image of the company, because with the help of the image material companies can show which values ​​their brands represent. And these are relevant for more and more consumers in their purchase decision.

Especially in online marketing today, technology makes it possible to interact with the audience on a personal level. People react to content that is tailored to their individual needs and reflects their living environment. Therefore, many companies and brands are faced with the challenge of doing individual and therefore interesting storytelling on a large scale.

Learning from the great

Even if the marketing budgets of large, globally active corporations such as Airbnb, Coca Cola, McDonald's or L'Oréal are on a completely different scale than most companies that dare to leap into new countries and markets with their brands, one can use Learn a lot about localization strategies from the big ones.

Airbnb's success story is also based, for example, on the company's successful localization strategy. To establish a presence in over 220 countries, Airbnb not only translated the platform into more than 60 languages, but also developed content marketing tailored to specific markets. From Airbnb magazine (available online and in print) to targeted campaigns in social media to city guides with local recommendations for tourists - Airbnb relies on tailor-made, localized content with appealing images for its growing target groups of hosts and tourists.

Localized content is very different from generic content

The localization of the brand identity usually includes the translation and adaptation of all texts into the local language - from websites to brochures to country-specific accounts in social networks - as well as the creation of marketing materials taking into account regional customs and values. Particular attention should be paid to the imagery here. After all, customer proximity and relevance are conveyed primarily through the images used. Illustrations and photographs must be authentic and show the real life of the target group. Localized content is therefore very different from generic marketing materials, the look and feel here reflect personal and local conditions.

Worldwide consistency and local content - no contradiction!

However, creating custom, local content quickly devours existing resources. Marketing budgets are often insufficient to produce special content for different markets and different channels. But that doesn't mean that you have to forego authenticity and local relevance. There are tools and efficient processes to meet the growing visual demands of storytelling. Platforms for creating branded content (e.g. Shutterstock Custom) enable marketing teams to make the production and management of content more efficient. They provide an infrastructure for the easy creation of local imagery. In this way, visual content can be created for different markets or regions that is authentic, inexpensive and scalable.

Brand guidelines usually form the basis for a consistent appearance. As a supplement, separate visual guidelines are useful - they determine the visual communication guidelines of a brand. Details on the composition of photos and videos are noted as well as descriptions of color spectra or the representation of people.

A uniform visual language creates brand identity

In the course of localizing the brand identity, marketing experts are faced with the great challenge of creating a largely consistent visual language that reflects the local characteristics and individual needs of customers. Custom content that is authentic and engaging for the target audience is the key to success. Content creation platforms and tools can help marketers build a strong, market-specific visual brand identity within budget.


As Director Enterprise Product Marketing at Shutterstock, Marianne leads the marketing teams in North America, LATAM, EMEA and APAC. She has over 15 years of experience launching global products and events in new countries and markets. She is convinced of the relevance of branded content for different markets and therefore particularly values ​​Shutterstock Custom, a simple platform and infrastructure with which user-defined content can be created efficiently.