Date Posted: Sun 11th March 2012

Working on a design project for worldwide audiences can be fraught with difficulties – while one colour may signify luck to one nationality; it may mean something quite different to another. Similarly, with food products – tastes and preferences, obviously, vary enormously between different countries and even regions. Hilarious linguistic gaffs are another story entirely – take France’s Pschitt soda, Italian Mukk yoghurt or Germany’s Zit lemonade, for instance.

So how do consultancies tackle international briefs and ensure projects can be tailored  to local markets? and how do you make sure your designs resonate in the country they will launch in?

Recently Holmes & Marchant created a new variant of Philadelphia cream cheese for the UK market – the Philadelphia Cadbury product, which blends Philadelphia Cream cheese and Cadbury’s chocolate. For Germany, however, the cheese will be branded with Milka Chocolate.

Simon Gore, Holmes & Marchant managing director, says, ‘Food as a category is still quite locally orientated. It’s linked to recipes, ingredients and lifestyle – how families eat together and different ways of cooking.’

As well as its base in the UK, Holmes & Marchant has a Singapore office, with a core team of British designers working with designers from India, Singapore and other areas to represent the regions the projects reach.

Gore says, ‘With global brands that we work on, we operate the old “global local” argument about how people organise their brands.

‘At the briefing stage one of the important things to ask is what territories we’re talking about, and that’s strongly related to the target market. We talk about future-proofing brands, which is particularly important for naming and sub-brand names. Taking something across Europe, it’s very difficult to get something that’ll engage on a local level.’

Gore points to the success of Unilever-owned Wall’s Ice cream, which is unified globally by its iconic heart device, but uses a different name for each country – such as Frigo in Spain, Good Humor in Canada and the US, Miko in France and Morocco and Eskimo in Solvenia, Croatia and Austria.

The internet, of course, has in many ways made the world a much smaller place. While UK-based designers can research remotely in the hope of understanding global markets, ultimately, common sense says that actually visiting the places- or sending out representatives will be a far more likely way to achieve success.

Article from Design Week – 13th March 2012