How Google Adapts Its Global Employer Brand Strategy in APAC

WRITTEN BY: Jörgen Sundberg

APAC is the fastest-growing region in the world when it comes to digital transformation, with well over half the world’s internet users. It contains 60% of the global population, including over half of the world’s under-25 population, and is projected to see massive growth in consumer spending over the next decade.

That’s why we were excited to sit down with Glynnis Quek, the APAC Online Marketing Lead at Google, to find out how she navigates global and local employer branding in a region with so many different talent markets.

Understanding APAC

The APAC region is home to over 2,000 languages, Quek points out, “and don’t get me started on dialects!” Chinese, for example, is spoken and written differently in each country that speaks it, so you need to customize content for Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China. “When we want to put out messages or stories that are localized, we have to take into consideration all these differences in language and culture,” she explains.

There are also significant differences in terms of which platforms are used in which markets. LinkedIn, for example, is great for India and Australia, but it has low penetration for talent pools in Taiwan, Japan, and Korea, and no longer operates in China. “Many of the global online channels and brand platforms do not work in that country, so you have to leverage the domestic platforms,” Quek says.

Most importantly, different types of stories resonate with each market. For example, Quek and her team have found that the most successful stories in Korea focus on a fun workplace culture, whereas in Singapore, they need to highlight professional development and career growth.

The Uphill Battle of Western Businesses in APAC

Quek and her team also need to overcome the perceptions talent has about Western companies. “Everyone knows about Google,” she says, “but in APAC, not everyone can see themselves working at Google.”

In their employer branding messaging and stories, Google needs to address some common misconceptions, such as:

  • You need to have good English language skills to work at a Western company.
  • Western companies enforce Western workplace cultures in their APAC business units.
  • Traditional cultural values are incompatible with working at an American business.

To change people’s minds, you need to show them a different side of the story. Quek points to the #GoogleRamadan campaign as an example. APAC is home to about 60% of the world’s Muslim population, and putting those stories front and center was incredibly effective. In fact, the campaign proved to be so successful that Google decided to scale it globally.

Balancing Global Strategy with Localized Messaging

Obviously, Google is a global company with a global employer brand strategy. In fact, we have an episode of the Employer Branding Podcast with Mary Streetzel, Head of Employer Brand at Google, detailing their approach. But how do you strike a balance between maintaining brand consistency with global while building narratives or assets that resonate locally?

For Quek, her job is to take the direction and framework provided by Google’s global brand strategy and look at it through an APAC lens. She creates cross-functional teams that pair local subject matter experts with traditional employer branding partners like recruiting, comms, marketing, and DEI. These teams are empowered to work within the structure provided by the global function while interpreting and adapting it for their local markets.

Looking Ahead

APAC is a region that only figures to be more important in the decade to come. With growing tech talent and a burgeoning middle class, global brands must learn how to tell stories that resonate in these markets.

For Quek, it all comes down to partnerships. That can look like local diversity initiatives, like Women Techmakers in India, or the Google Aboriginal and Indigenous Network in Australia. Or, it could be partnering with specific employees to help them develop their online presence and personal brand.

No matter what, the magic is in bringing to life stories that allow people to see themselves working at your organization. For Quek, the secret is pairing a strong global employer brand strategy with smart local teams empowered to make content that resonates with their market.

To follow Glynnis Quek’s work in employer brand, connect with her on LinkedIn. For more on Google’s global employer brand strategy, listen to our episode with Mary Streetzel. For help identifying the values and culture you want to create in your company, get in touch.


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