Creating and executing effective global programs is not an easy undertaking. We thought it would be helpful to share some lessons learned from our experience navigating multi-national communications work.

1) One Brand, One Voice, Many Accents

There is only one brand image and that needs to be communicated consistently and appropriately throughout all materials and vehicles everywhere in the world. You can subtly change the “accent” of the communications to best fit a culture, but for the most part the brand strategy and promise are non-negotiable.

2) One Size Does Not Fit All

While the brand image is sacred, specific communications programs can be tailored for each country. The “architect and distribute” model can work quite well. “Architect” or design and beta test an event in one country, for example, then “distribute” the plan to other countries so the basic blueprint is in place and can be used, but specific elements can be changed to be country-specific.

3) Corporate is Not the Center of the Universe

It’s crucial to get out of headquarters and really see and experience people, press and communications in your most important regions. You can best drive your agenda if you make the effort to meet and understand the business leaders and marketing and communications professionals on their home turf.

4) Five or More Heads are Better than One

Creating cross-regional teams to help develop strategies and programming at the start is a great way to get the best thinking and build in relevant country attitudes and considerations.

5) Not Invented Here Is a Good Thing

Identify best practices from other companies and from other parts of your global organization and adapt them throughout the company.

6) What Happens In Vegas Does Not Stay in Vegas

In today’s 24 x 7 e-world, a comment made in India will be known in San Francisco within minutes. Look at every communication as if the world will see it.

7) No Surprises

Corporate and the regions need to work hand in hand to ensure there are no surprises. An early warning system can help plan for and avoid crisis. A global intranet site specifically for the marketing and communications team can help facilitate knowledge sharing. A calendar of programs, press releases and events updated each week for senior management throughout the world can help keep everyone on the same page.

8) All Markets are Not Created Equal

There are not unlimited communications resources in terms of time and money. Prioritize activities to help drive business in markets where there is the greatest business potential.

9) Sweat the Small Stuff

Using the right language and timing can seem like small details but are hugely important to effective communications. Are translations really being done correctly? Are you using terms or expressions that are only understandable to a U.S. audience? Internally, are you planning global team calls when it’s midnight in Europe?

10) Be a Local Partner

Balance the needs at Corporate with the needs in a specific country. Is there a problem with a manufacturer in Asia? Is there an opportunity to create a country-specific cause-related marketing campaign that will have significant impact? Whether it’s a challenge or an opportunity, be ready to jump in at a local level to offer advice and solutions.