The importance of thinking localisation to international expansion.
Globalisation is accelerating and having the ability to link businesses, exchange best practices and share knowledge is seen as a distinct advantage. When you consider brands that have made an impact internationally, one of the first businesses that springs to mind is likely to be Coca Cola. This business is currently the world’s largest beverage company with a reach that encompasses more than 200 countries across five operating regions. Key to its growing international success has been a strategy that it launched in 2000, pledging to ‘think global, act local’.
What exactly does this mean?
The term ‘think global, act local’, refers to the ways in which businesses need to adapt their brands to suit individual localised audiences. For Coca Cola, making this strategy successful meant finding the right mix of global and local in all operations. The Coca Cola brand is global, but it must also be locally relevant to each individual market it serves. The same is true of the workplace.
Why it’s important
The key to expanding internationally is to ensure that your brand remains globally consistent whilst also having local reach, this way your brand remains strong whilst your offering appeals to the local target market. Just as customers and suppliers expect to receive the same experience and environment every time they visit a brand, regardless of which office location they visit, potential employees and local market customers will want a more localised experience when they visit a brand. As such international offices need to be designed with global branding in mind whilst being sensitive to the specific local market.
At Fourfront Group, we are increasingly speaking to businesses which want to expand overseas, and are keen to replicate a similar working culture and brand presence, embodied through their office fit out design in every single location. This however presents a challenge, with different countries comes different procurement routes, different standards, different levels of quality and different ways of working. So how can businesses ensure that they achieve consistency on a global scale whilst also embracing the needs of the local market.
Firstly, you will need to look to partner with a local workplace specialist. Engaging a local firm will allow you to access their local insight, market knowledge and industry suppliers. It therefore essential you choose your partner wisely as this could be the difference between success and failure. Time needs to be spent working closely with your overseas contacts in order to ensure they have a clear understanding of your business so they can replicate a working environment that has a look and feel of your brand, ensuring consistency of quality and design, whilst tailoring the layout to cater for the local market working practices.
The United Workplace
Aki Stamatis, Chairman of Fourfront Group said: “Many businesses are thinking globally as they execute their growth plans and while they want to build an international presence, they want to reflect the same working culture in every single location. It is important that international business sites reflect both the local market culture, and the values and identity of the business itself. This is difficult to achieve when working with one single supplier that only understands a handful of different local markets. By bringing together workplace specialists from throughout the globe, The United Workplace can deliver this type of cross-continent consistency.
“The next generation workplace will scale locally, nationally and internationally, providing the environment and technology businesses that businesses need to grow, and people need to thrive.”
Finding an international partner you can trust is not an easy feat and it was this uncertainty in the market place that inspired the beginnings of The United workplace (TUW), a network of likeminded businesses, sharing a passion for the workplace – inspiring design, innovation and a culture of collaboration, to assist companies in the development of their international workplace roll out programmes.
Together with Amicus, our workplace design and fit-out partner in Australia, TUW has grown to encompass all corners of the globe, with members including Summertown Interiors in the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates’ first fit-out contractor to occupy LEED Gold Certified interiors, and Ware Malcomb, a well-established architectural practice in the USA. All members share common ethics, values and goals, bringing with them a wealth of knowledge and experience. Ensuring your workplace needs can be fulfilled on a global scale – with consistency of service and quality whilst simultaneously providing local insight which in turn means you get the best perspective on your international projects – effectively helping companies to think global, act local.
The network is already working together to assist a business based in the UK open a new office in Sydney, Australia, through collaboration between ourselves and Amicus. By tapping into local market knowledge from both businesses, our client is able to create an element of consistency to reflect its brand in two very different locations and cultures, whilst addressing local needs at the same time.
For us, TUW is unique in that it is the first global network of its kind in the workplace industry with such a varied mix of partners and skills, to aid every workplace project. By gaining access to local market knowledge from experts across continents, businesses looking to expand internationally can experience a faster and more efficient way to design effective workplaces which reflect both global brand values, and local market cultures, whilst also ensuring they maintain consistency of service and quality on an international level.