OK, we’re two months in. It’s been a mild winter and I’ve had a jam-packed schedule, so I haven’t had much of a chance to miss San Francisco. Or so I thought. Last week I flew back for a quick business trip and looking out the window on the plane’s final approach over the bay I felt an instant, giddy sense of familiarity. Hanging in The Mission with friends, dining in old haunts, and a weekend in the wine country made me realize how much I missed home.
Powerful concept, home. Whether one’s perception of home is positive or negative, it is deeply intimate and often comforting.
The global marketplace has long eschewed the psychological draw of home by tapping into its antithesis: The Other. Global companies satisfy consumers’ commercial wanderlust for foreign brands. Over time, through global media, these brands evoke a global familiarity that is almost the same as home. But not quite. Still, to deepen local adoption, some of these companies are experimenting with glocalization and the once indisputable rules of brand consistency.
McDonalds built a global empire on product consistency, providing an identical menu coast to coast. That’s in the U.S.. In most Europeans countries, Mickey Ds serves beer; in Japan you satisfy your shellfish craving with a EBI-Filet-O (shrimp burger); and in Australia you can spice up your McMuffin with Vegemite.
A brand promise, like a wedding vow, should remain unbroken if you want to deepen customer (or spousal) loyalty. But can you make different promises to different customers? PayPal localizes their brand messaging by country. In the U.S., PayPal makes it easy to “transfer money to your friends”; in Germany (where credit cards are not so popular), you can “shop around the world”; and in Spain (where banks are not so trusted), PayPal is the “card that does not require a bank account.”
Some studies show that babies recognize certain brand logos before they recognize their parents. Given this (creepy) power that results from logo consistency, imagine my surprise when strolling the streets of Seoul a few weeks ago, I came across a glocalized Starbucks logo (see blog photo).
I’m back in Europe now, Munich. Last night, filled with wanderlust, Nick and I went to dinner in a nearby Bravarian tavern (Gastätte Fraunhofer: loved it!). The boisterous restaurant with communal tables crowded with beer steins was immediately familiar. It almost felt like home. Almost.