Today’s world may be facing a spate of nationalistic spats, but the truth of the matter is that nations are more closely linked now than they have ever been. The reason for that is the complex web of international trade that allows quick access to products grown or manufactured virtually anywhere in the world. That is why BRANDPackaging examines global packaging in this issue.

We have seen the rise of branded products with globe-spanning reach and reputation. No matter where they are offered for sale, these brands try to use the same positioning and advertising. From country to country they portray the same personality with a similar look and feel.  This allows them to benefit from economies of scale driven by a unified marketing strategy.

However, the effectiveness of this strategy may not always be successful. As barriers of distance have been torn down, cultural differences have often become even more apparent. Languages cannot always be translated effectively. Even colors don’t have the same meaning in different corners of the world.

While a U.S. consumer may be willing to purchase a year’s supply of six large tubes of toothpaste in a warehouse store, a consumer in Africa might be able to afford only a travel-size tube or perhaps a single-use sachet. And while they might enjoy the prestige of using an international brand from a company like Unilever or Procter & Gamble, their access in local stores may be limited.

Our May cover story, written by Gil Horsky, an international specialist in packaging innovation at Nestlé, explores these circumstances. His piece discusses how packaging must be Global-Local or GloCal. This packaging must define the essential elements of a brand while respecting local customs and building a price-pack architecture suitable to the economics of the community.  We also compare the U.S. and the U.K.—two nations that closely mirror each other in language and culture, yet have considerably different packaging requirements. It is also known that many greedy traders covet the assets of well-known brands. That is why new techniques to thwart the global problem of counterfeiting are always evolving, as explained in our article on the latest in holographic technology.

Creating packaging for a worldwide audience can be a daunting design task, but not impossible. Perhaps it’s best to follow the “Ten Commandments of Global Branding” laid out by Kevin Lane Keller of Dartmouth College:

  • Understand similarities and differences in the global branding landscape.
  • Don’t take shortcuts in brand building.
  • Establish marketing infrastructure.
  • Embrace integrated marketing communications.
  • Cultivate brand partnerships.
  • Balance standardization and adaptation.
  • Balance global and local control.
  • Establish operable guidelines.
  • Implement a global brand equity measurement system.
  • Leverage brand elements.