Culture Hack

Think locally, act locally: Why brands should be embracing the power of localism

As a child of the 90s, my millennial brain is particularly steeped in a deep-rooted, Michael Jackson-esque globalism. An underlying fondness for global brands and global citizenry, that is gradually giving way to another 2020s movement that shows no signs of fading away: Localism. 

The pandemic might have accelerated the renewed interest in all things local, but in reality, this has been brewing for quite some time. The political revolt against “global elites” and internationalism that preoccupied the 2010s. An increased understanding of social and economic inequality in our gentrifying neighborhoods. A growing interest in sustainability and traceability that extends to who, where and how our services and goods are manufactured.

Consumers are increasingly seeking brands that embrace where they come from and show up for the communities in which they operate. And yet, with local and community media in decline, you could argue that it’s harder to connect to people locally than ever before. Nevertheless, as brands seek to build deeper, more meaningful relationships with their consumers, localism represents a huge opportunity to engage consumers within the communities where they already exist.

While I love a spot of locally relatable copy (Hello Streeteasy!), embracing localism goes beyond customized creative. As with any community, it starts with understanding the equity a brand has with a given audience and the role they play in local culture. Whether it’s Nike’s embrace of local graffiti artists in São Paulo, Aesop’s locally informed retail experiences, or even Budweiser’s embrace of Philly Philly; the key, as obvious as it may sound, is being unafraid to let those local differences be part of the brand experience. 

To quote my favorite Australian soap, that’s when good neighbors become good friends.

-Ed Hunt