Case study: GS1 Global

Creating a powerful global brand across 112 countries

Over five billion times every day around the world a simple scan based on GS1 Standards transforms the way we work and live. We help GS1 present itself to the market consistently and coherently in every corner of the world. Learn about how we developed a globally unified but locally flexible brand for a complex global powerhouse.


GS1 is a global, not-for-profit business and supply chain standards organization. The developer and administrator of the most widely used global system of supply chain standards, GS1 operates as an association of 112 “member organizations” (MOs), each operating in a different country, plus a global office based in Brussels.

Typical of many organizations spread across multiple markets, the ability for local management to respond to market demands in a particular country is crucial. A 40-year history of autonomous MOs and an overall federated structure (i.e., relatively independent entities joining together for common purposes) mean that local flexibility is particularly valued and emphasized at GS1. At the same time, many users are multinational companies interacting with GS1 in multiple countries. Furthermore, the heart of the organization is the delivery of global standards for customers. Given these dynamics, creating a more consistent and unified global brand within the federated model became a strategic imperative for the organization.

How could GS1 balance the need for global coherence and local flexibility? And how could it drive agreement on a unified brand across so many languages and cultures?

  • GS1 Global Brand Manual
  • GS1 Global Brand system
  • GS1 Global purpose and beliefs statement

How we partnered together

In partnership with GS1 and before diving into true brand development, we established a global brand steering committee (made up of CEOs from a number of regions) supported by a global brand project team comprised of a number of country CMOs from Australia to Russia, the global office and the Bailey team. These groups were responsible for developing, championing and helping to implement the global brand framework. It was comprised of senior executives and decision-makers who were able to dive into the global and local shared responsibility intentions of the initiative, as well as prioritize the implementation of global brand assets and tools.

Together with this new global brand project team, Bailey was able to drive a number of aspects of the GS1 global brand:

  1. Clarity of purpose, benefits and differentiation—what the brand stands for and how people will perceive it. Through the GS1 statements of “purpose and beliefs,” we were able to ensure, right from the start, a focus on the common essence that applies to all countries within the organization.
  2. The creation of a comprehensive global brand system including extensive brand standards, guidelines, assets and templates for all aspects of communicating the brand, from websites to printed brochures. This enables all 112 countries to use common brand building blocks but with the flexibility to tailor content to local market needs.
  3. Extensive rollout planning and support to ensure effective implementation across cultures, languages and local organizations.

The web toolkit – resources to create consistent websites

To enable all GS1 offices across every country to update their own websites to reflect the global brand, Bailey developed an innovative approach—the Web Toolkit. A combination of online style guide and all the actual code associated with the look and feel of every website component, the Web Toolkit allows local managers and developers to build their websites using the common code combined with their own local content.

  • GS1 Global Brand Web Toolkit
  • GS1 Global Brand Web Toolkit site elements and structure

What happened next

After an incredibly successful global launch, the GS1 global brand continues to roll out across the local offices in all 112 countries. The organization has gone from each country autonomously speaking to the market and presenting GS1 standards in its own way to starting to speak with a unified voice and as one global organization.

The GS1 global brand is not only bringing massive efficiencies in terms of reducing duplicated efforts, it is also enabling significantly increased collaboration across countries within the organization, making the sharing of materials, approaches and ideas much more simple and easy. As GS1 makes it possible for industry and businesses to speak to each other through its standards, it now has a common brand to present itself as the true global language of business.