Global Brand Image – HRM

Being conspicuous in a crowd is never an easy task, since the danger of slipping into oblivion always looms large. No wonder then that organizations across the world and in India are constantly striving to achieve boundary-less branding in order to attain top recall value as employers. This refers to a situation where Indian companies internationalize their image and global companies localize theirs in order to match candidate expectations. Companies have realized the importance of getting local as well as international flavors in their brands, since this reflects the values of an enterprise.

Think global act local is a critical strategy for most global companies and modifying one’s core business culture and practices to suit a new market is the key to survival. It is perhaps unrealistic to expect that a brand is decided in a similar way the world over. So, to be able to reach out to relevant audiences be it customers, employees, partners or consumers the companies need to put things in a way that they are comfortable with and in a form which is acceptable. Every brand has to have local alignment.

Employees always look for a global image with localized systems. Along with country-specific legal and statutory variations, culture also varies. For any organization to be successfully in a particular geography, brand positioning needs to be sensitive to these differences. Corporate companies struggle to control the veil between the brand and the target audience.

For a company that operates in the IT – ITES space localizing communication is significant, since the service and standards it maintains are global. Representatives from UK visit India and participate in various cultural events that they organize in India. Indian society is fundamentally less individualistic than its western counterparts. Therefore, global brands must appeal to the Indian audience’s sense of values, culture and bonding. If a brand desires universal acceptance, then it must define itself in human terms.

Branding they say, is all about meeting people’s aspirations. If so, then with the kind of Westernization that has swept the country, does it mean Western firms find it easier to build a brand in India? While, Indianizing a brand does not attract or detract talent, brand globalization attracts higher end talent, due to the growing desire of the Indian middle class to be viewed as ‘hot and happening’. Global companies leverage their global image and at the same time, customize their policies to Indian conditions. We identify with the global brand and at the same time customize policies with the Indian scenario by offering global careers which in itself is very strong pull factor.

However, it is a challenge to achieve some sort of balance between an organization’s conflicting identities. We need to retain the international look and feel, yet adapt to the Indian market. The mix has to be perfect for the right image to be projected. The value proposition of global brands may be both strong as well as entrenched in the Indian mind, but making the proposition relevant to that same target might prove to be another matter altogether. Local needs and global brand images do not necessarily operate on mutually exclusive terms.

A classic example of how Indian companies globalize themselves would be that of Wipro Infotech. A major part of Wipro Infotech’s operations are based in the Middle East, South Asia and Australia. These countries, although closer than North America or Europe, are culturally extremely different from India. The first barrier is language and culture. So the company has appointed local people in client facing roles like project mangers and sales and business professionals. This puts the clients at ease. We can move people from India, but there’s a time lag that happens. When customers demand quick turnarounds, transporting people from India in large numbers is not possible; lots of issues creep in. So it is always prudent to deploy locals. For one, there’s continuity because of the native country factor, which is a must in client interface. Retaining locals is also easy as there’s no pressure to move back to any other country of origin.

For large enterprises, it is the ‘India’ branding that helps pull local talent. Given the kind of visibility that the Indian software industry has today people abroad like to be part of it, and experience Indian off-shoring. Any CEO or CTO of a global organization needs to have an understanding of how Indian IT works.

It is good combination of factors such as the employer brand, job profile and compensation that appeals the most to candidates. Industry watchers note that there’s a silent shift happening in people’s workplace preferences. People respond more positively to organizations they can relate to, be it in terms or behavior, values, language etc.

It therefore makes eminent sense to localize. For global firms, it is about reconciling the seeming contradiction of a universal meaning and local expression, which allows them to factor in local imperatives while keeping the brand’s global image intact.