The big creative trick to global business expansion.

How to grow with the right partner.

By: Shima Carroll

The big creative trick to global business expansion.

Listen: The big creative trick to global business expansion.

Businesses that are growing internationally face a constant struggle: They have to establish global consistency in their marketing message, but they must also localize it for various regions. Although many businesses opt to manage their marketing and creative internally, it can be a challenging and resource-intensive task. 

That's why partnering with the right agency is crucial to navigating the complexities of different markets, particularly when expanding overseas. The vitality of your business relies on an agency that can protect your brand identity, one that's knowledgeable about regional markets and their legal requirements. When expanding into new markets, you have to be strategic and adapt.

The challenges of global expansion with an in-house team  

Labor laws 

Expanding to Europe and Asia can pose labor law challenges. U.K. labor laws are more flexible but still require adherence. U.S. models offer agility and efficiency; however, countries like France, with more stringent labor laws, make it difficult to offer seasonal or contract arrangements. The freelance economy is ideal, but regulations on contracts and permanent employment must be observed, making it imperative to balance short-term talent while retaining full-time employees to stay competitive.

When expanding globally on your own, your in-house marketing/creative team may find it difficult to navigate labor laws. Furthermore, failure to comply with local employment laws can result in fines, legal problems, and reputational harm. Partnering with an agency that knows the local laws and regulations can help mitigate these risks and ensure compliance while still delivering effective strategies tailored to each market.

Recruiting cycles

The process of finding talent can be drastically quicker in the United States due to short and often lack of notice periods. In Europe, on the other hand, the notice periods are typically between one to two months. This in turn means that since most talent are held to these longer notice periods before they become available for hire, agencies and recruiters must plan ahead. Companies must stay cognizant of legal entities and HR policies to stay compliant with all local market regulations.

Benefits of a globally integrated partner 

When looking at a creative agency for global expansion, look for a comprehensive approach to solutions—not just the tried-and-true best practices, but also the unique nuances of each local market. This will allow the agency to create tailored outcomes and ensure that no matter where you are in the world, they've got your back with global and localized expertise all combined.

Then you can focus on other strategic or business-critical matters, while depending on the agency partner to take care of managing the people, processes, data and technologies to produce the results needed rather than worrying about talent acquisition.

This is where data insights also come in. Data insights from a partner with experience can help better prepare you for planning and financial decision-making. With metrics, workflow, and process evaluations, among others, you can gain the insights necessary to make informed decisions. 

Case study: global expansion for creative teams

One example of a successful expansion was one of our clients, a national retailer in the U.S. 

The client had just gone through a reorganization, and no longer had an internal creative team. We started off by building an in-house creative studio from scratch—including hiring a whole new creative team, creating new workflows and processes, as well as developing new tools and systems. All this was completed within a very short time frame, as the client no longer had an internal creative team, but all of their U.S. centers still needed creative support for their marketing campaigns. For this reason, they hired Aquent Studios to completely outsource and manage the on-site creative studio. This team was to support all of their U.S. corporate and marketing teams (18+ teams).

Because of this now centralized system, the decision-makers saw the benefits of having more control over the marketing budget and brand consistency across all departments and locations. Aquent Studios ensured this by producing all the creative marketing assets, instead of engaging individual agencies for each location.

Our client eventually got acquired by a French global company with several European offices. Once their European-based management saw the successful solution for the U.S., they decided to extend this model to their European headquarters, but wanted to ensure the solution would be localized to the specific locations. At the same time, they were going through a companywide rebrand and saw the opportunity to ensure creative consistency. As part of this effort, Aquent Studios built a local in-house creative team at their European HQ to support the marketing communications team with their rebranding efforts. 

Throughout our years-long engagement with the client, we gained our own client institutional knowledge. Even so, when setting up their European HQ, we paid careful attention to using the local markets' expertise. This team worked with local clients, so we had to adapt best practices and market solutions to guarantee success. By offering our client one centralized agency partner who oversaw global solutions and creative operations worldwide, we realized their goal of creating further brand consistency across all locations.

Finding the right partner makes it possible

Successful global expansion starts with a dedicated team that understands your brand, the complexities of international markets, and local nuances. This is crucial to a cohesive presence worldwide. Additionally, calling upon certain agency models or opting for outsourcing can help maximize efficiency and provide tailored solutions for global consistency. Ultimately, by finding the right agency partner who truly understands your mission and vision, you can turn expansion into an achievable reality. Global expansion can be difficult, but marketing doesn't have to be a challenge. With the right tools and team in place, success is within your reach.

About the Author

Image of Author

Shima Carroll

Director of Creative Operations - Global, Aquent Studios

Shima Carroll is a Director at Aquent Studios; where she manages Creative Operations, Client Relationships, building and leading creative teams, Solution Implementation, and Creative Workflow Process Optimisation – for offices in Europe, APAC, and North America. Shima has been with Aquent Studios since 2016. Prior to Aquent, Shima worked in Branding, Marketing, Project Management and Operations – in Luxury Retail, Entertainment, and Technology industries. She has also lived and worked in the United Kingdom, Sweden, Spain, and the USA.


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