By Todd Bolin  /  CEO

Early on in our 70 years in business, Bolin’s clients were mostly local, preferring to do business with a local agency that knew Midwesterners and the local media market. When I took over as second-generation ownership in 1990, Bolin’s client roster included some of region’s finest and proudest brands (Minnesota State Fair, Minnesota Timberwolves, Midwest Federal to name a few).

Technology was just beginning to fuel the global expansion of brands and today, 87% of U.S. companies say international expansion is important to long term growth. Wanting to expand our knowledge and perspective beyond our borders, Bolin first got involved in global agency networks back in the early 2000s. Then in 2011, we saw an opportunity to create our own network and co-founded Tribe Global, an international network of independent agencies that today I am proud to chair.

So, what does our membership in a global independent agency network do for our clients?

  • We bring a global perspective. Membership in Tribe Global is active and engaging. Lots of collaborations, conversations, and shared viewpoints being exchanged at any one time. ‘In person’ meetings in normal years create strong personal bonds and enduring friendships. The net result of which is while we are based in Minneapolis, we bring a global awareness and perspective which we apply to our client’s business or marketing issue. Being tightly wired into an international network of colleagues gives us an amazing resource to anticipate and often solve problems in any/every corner of the world.
    • A great example of this is ‘cultural sensitivity’ checks. We recently circulated throughout the network proposed designs for a client’s new global identity we were developing. We were able to get real time feedback regarding suitability and cultural appropriateness from all parts of the world in a matter of a few days.
  • Virtual scale. With access to 2,800 talented professionals in 73 cities, 27 countries, speaking 34 languages, we have the ability to scale our services in ways and timeframes never before possible. We assemble teams of diverse skills sets where and when we need them, with no burdensome overhead to pass along to clients.
    • Here we recently assembled a ‘rock-star’ team of skilled, linguistic copywriters from several creative agencies around the network to create a global B2B brand name that worked throughout the world. Mission accomplished!
  • Local Connections. Anywhere. Need a trustworthy fashion photographer in Paris or a gamification agency in Europe who knows GDPR inside and out, no problem! With top-to-top accountability (again, we all know and trust each other well), Tribe Global is way more effective and efficient sourcing and solving problems than making a flurry of random, blind calls into an unfamiliar country.
    • An example of this was a B2B client who came to us looking for a UK media agency who could work directly with their ‘in region’ management to bring a new product to market. A quick referral and the UK client is still working with the Tribe agency directly on their regional needs.
  • Many Vibes. Tribe membership is made up of agencies with many different specialties from PR, media, gamification, AR/VR, experiential, employer branding as well as industry verticals (such as travel/tourism and luxury). With access to experts like these, we become much more valuable to our clients helping to solve almost any problem, anywhere in the world.
    • Travelations is an initiative created by a dozen Tribe agencies working together in the area of travel/tourism. Each member contributes thought leadership, cases and local/regional perspectives that result in ‘global insights for travel marketers.’
  • In Country Translations. Global campaigns that aren’t customized appropriately to local markets can be spotted a mile away. Culturally relevant translations and imagery require ‘in market’ expertise and sensitivity.
    • Bolin created a pro bono campaign for Survival International, a global non-profit which required translations in six languages. Tapping multiple Tribe members, we were able to deliver the required native language materials to publishers which resulted in global reach for the campaign.

The challenges and rewards of marketing brands on a global scale are many. And while you may have thought that only one of the big ‘holding company’ agencies could help solve and/or manage these complexities, your trusted agency partner that knows your business, supported by an independent agency network (tapped when needed) can also do just that, and likely better, faster and more affordably than those big multi-nationals.