Should a brand change logos or identities to suit regional tastes or tongues?
Should it...yes. Undoubtedly. Any ascertation to the contrary is simply missing the point OF branding.
Branding is a function of marketing that CREATES value where none exists. Certainly we can all agree on that. In absence of having a local brand, Company X enters the market and tries to ploy their brand into your value system. This is the essence of communication strategy. If you don't 'live there' you have to figure out what the market wants and stands for. Then provide it.
In a true brand movement, the 'master brand' would disappear. The local brands would diverge from the regional, and so on. Certainly, having similar brand attributes as honesty, integrity and soul would permeate all levels, but each locality should be serviced by its own brand voice. The closer the voice to the home…the better. I doubt anyone would challenge Jiminy’s influence.
If examples are your preferred tool, here are a few: FOX with their Fox Regional Sports Report is compelling – local and relevant with typical master brand values; the affiliate model (local news vs. network); satellite model - NYU via the London School of Business.
There are a multitude of brands currently operating under this guise, of course. What they have yet to accomplish is to take the ethereal qualities of a brand ... its inner psyche (if you will) and project that which has created the value and mirror it into multiple cultures. Here's a tip: Gangstas aren't cool in Japan. But the transcendental quality of effective intimidation via words and gestures is, it’s called 'face.' Are they the same? Create a pop music icon in Japan without it and you’ll suffer. Give him tattoos and a gold tooth and he’ll simply wither. Show me the brand that embraces this and I'll show you the new frontier. Next stop: BrandFree. Of course, that's just a message.
And a point of order…
Maybe if a little more of this thinking was put into the pitching and presenting of ‘brand’ campaigns and not ‘brand’ bastardization, the vast insolvent ‘branding’ that goes un-checked in the world would finally live up to all the hype.