Not too long ago, global for an agency meant having dots on a map all over the world. The more dots, the better. That was yesterday.
Today, the online world is democratizing how we think, how we create intellectual capital and how we build our firms to make all of this real for our clients.
The meaning of “global” is now more about a firm’s agility and ability to understand how influence, content and channels integrate by language, region and country. Knowledge of a marketplace is often more important than physical presence. People in Austin, Texas lead global training sessions in Argentina or Switzerland. Global knowledge trumps location.
In terms of our business, that is also changing. In today’s world, issues jump languages and become global in seconds. Brands that are focused on their global positioning realize that 10 languages reach more than 80 percent of people online. As a result, if you are positioning a brand, you can reach the majority of the world with 4-5 languages, not 30 like we used to think.
Of course, if you are driving local behavior, expertise on the ground matters. It always will.
The changes in our global marketplace are leading to opportunities for firms like ours to transform into global partners with our clients. Our team members speak a variety of languages and more than a few have worked around the world during their careers. But it is the rapid transformation of our online world that is now unlocking this “hidden talent” in firms like ours.
Top brands centralize strategy at the headquarters level and decentralize execution, so they need people who have worked globally, regardless of location. It is less about “where” you live and much more about “what” you have learned during your career in all four regions.
Analytics and our ability to scrape public data anywhere in the world is making it “easy” to know what is happening anywhere in the world. Insights can be evaluated on a global level in ways never done before. New products and services are being created that provide unique advantage to those companies who know how to interpret what is happening by language, country, region and globe.
Since ten languages reach more than 80 percent of people online, most brand positioning platforms can focus on 3-5 languages, rather than 20-30 to reach the majority of the world. The cost-savings for programs will be intense in the years ahead as we learn how to leverage languages more effectively.
Regional work is becoming more about your “base”. For us, for example, London is our European “base”. We have a great team that will continue to build and we’ll probably create a few additional offices in the region with time. But the days of us feeling compelled to have an office in every country are not there. It is more likely that we will start to see partnerships emerge between “global firms” like ours and “local or regional expert firms” that provide clients with the best intellectual capital and capabilities available.
The future of our growth globally is exciting, which is why we are pleased to enter the top 30 (as #30) for the top communications firms in the world for the first time. Ten years ago, we may have seen barriers ahead of us. Today, we see opportunities around the world. It’s something that our team members who have lived in places like Switzerland and Argentina and who speak languages, ranging from Korean to Spanish, get pretty excited about.
We’ll do our part to redefine what global means for our clients and the world’s top brands.
All the best,