Nov 19, 2013

Pelmorex: International Branding – Go Local

It’s been trendy since the dotcom days to use one-size fits all brand names — names like Google, Twitter and Yahoo.

Invented names are very adaptable, because they contain no meaning. They are empty vessels that companies can use to add meaning through their product interactions and marketing. And invented names can be adapted for each market and region.

But as flexible as one-size fits all brands are they lack the personal touch.

Pelmorex Media Inc. has taken a different approach to their naming strategy. They personalize their media properties for the regions, cultures and languages they are engaging.

Act local, brand local

If you’ve looked up detailed weather information online you’ve probably come across Pelmorex. They operate The Weather Network, Canada’s most popular source for weather information.

The Weather Network is a substantial brand. They are Canada’s most visited website, and their mobile app is in the top three most consumed apps in Canada. Ipsos-Reid ranked The Weather Network as the sixteenth most influential brand in Canada sharing the ranks with companies like Google and Visa. And they are the sixth most influential brand amongst Canadian companies.

But as powerful as The Weather Network is it is an English speaking brand. Pelmorex builds their brands to fit local markets. In Quebec and France they operate under MétéoMédia, and in Spain and Spanish speaking countries they operate under El Tiempo.

Pierre Morrissette, Founder and Executive Chairman of Pelmorex explains, “Our approach is international. We respect the local languages, local markets and the local cultures. We don’t believe in a one-size fits all approach.”

Awareness versus loyalty

Tailoring a service for local markets is only a piece of the brand. Customers have to embrace the service and make it their own.

Pelmorex is the 800-pound gorilla in Canada. They have grown their position over twenty-five years. They started as a dedicated channel on basic cable in the early 90s, and were quick to launch Web and mobile platforms. But outside of Canada they are entering mature markets with entrenched players.

Pierre explains, “Each country has an incumbent. In the UK the population is used to getting their weather from the BBC, but it’s only a partial service. Weather is a piece of the BBC portal and their newscasts, but not a dedicated 24×7 service.”

Pelmorex is building its brand in the UK by offering a very focused, specialized service that the incumbent players don’t have. Pelmorex offers 24×7 weather information with postal code accuracy. Users can access weather information within one kilometer of their location as well as hourly forecasts, radar and related news. And it’s available across all devices.

It takes these game-changing innovations to influence customer behavior, and encourage them to consider new options. As Pelmorex enters new markets like the UK they use promotions and advertising to create awareness, but their approach to the local markets is what garners loyalty.

In the UK The Weather Network service is personalized for the market. The user interface of their products is different from what is seen in North America. They use different colors, different icons and subtle touches like reporting wind speed in miles versus metric. The localization for each market is designed to increase the relevance of the content and enhance the experience with the customer.

The local touch makes the brand stickier.

Make it personal

A one-size fits all approach to branding seems seductive, because you don’t have to tinker with it. Google is Google no matter where you go. But the one-size fits all approach requires a lot of time and resources to create meaning in each local market.

Pelmorex’s branding strategy is more complicated and has more overhead, but it makes it a lot harder to displace them once they’re established. Pierre explains, “You can get vanilla flavored weather anywhere. We want to be extremely local. Our customers never know we’re a Canadian service.” For example in Spain Pelmorex operates with local offices, management team and sales force to fulfill the local mandate.

The personal touch entrenches your brand in the local landscape, and it lets you build relationships and establish personal connections — creating a sticky user experience.

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