An Open Letter: Allowing Regional Flexibility Bolsters Global Branding

David Anderson is a managing partner for Insight NZ.
David Anderson is a managing partner for Insight NZ.

Dear international brand teams,

Hello from the end of the Earth, the land of hobbits, sauvignon blanc and bungee jumping—100% pure New Zealand.

Of course, you may already know that, but you may be surprised to hear that this little country of 4.5 million people is also the land of a tough-negotiating drug-buying agency (the government) and one of the few places besides the US where DTC advertising is legal.

And like other countries around the world, many of our clients have the support of international brand teams like you.

International brand teams are great!

You do all the heavy lifting when it comes to building a brand, sorting out logos, colors, fonts and whatnot.

And if we are lucky, you've also trawled the stacks of clinical literature and created a thorough core claims document that points to the key selling benefits or created a whizzy mode of action animation. (Put your 3-D glasses on now!)

It's just that some of the brand manuals that you provide have the communication campaign interwoven with the mandatory brand details.

This is where the love starts to fade.

We all agree that consistent worldwide branding should be mandatory: same logo, font, colors, icons. But please, please allow us flexibility with the communication campaign.

We're not out to reinvent the wheel if we don't have to but we will need to localize the campaign and do what is right for our physicians and our patients.

In the New Zealand market, we often need to create campaigns that only feature those indications that a drug is funded for or we need to create impactful, engaging, consumer-facing campaigns. 

All of which can become very hard—or even bloody well impossible—when we “must” comply with the campaign outlined in an official brand manual that doesn't allow for our single indication or that only includes assets relevant to a medical campaign.

So in the spirit of a United Nations–style global partnership, here are a few suggestions from an end user when you are setting up your brand and campaign guidelines:

1. Keep the brand and the campaign elements distinct, to allow relevant local campaigns to be created if needed.

2. Communicate that the brand is mandatory; the campaign optional.

3. Create a feedback loop to see how local markets have used the brand and campaign—and share the knowledge. You'd be surprised at the kind of great ideas a challenging market like New Zealand's can create.

Thanks for reading. And don't forget, if you ever do make it down to the bottom of the South Pacific there's always a flat white coffee or a Marlborough region sauvignon blanc waiting for you.


David Anderson is a managing partner for Insight NZ, a member of the Indigenus network.