Global Branding the Strategy Behind Branding in an International Market

Introduction

Walking through a store with over a thousand similar products people have to choose one or two. If over 90% of those products have names that people are not familiar with will they buy those products over other known brand names? Despite the fact that most of those products are probably very good, most people tend to go with the ones they know.

Every day people are hit with approximately 5000 images or brand names. In the evening when we are about to go to sleep we might wonder how many actually had a lasting impact on us. The answer is that only 3 to 7 of those images stay with us. So which ones create a greater impact than others, and how much power lies in having a strong brand name for your product. This report will look closer into the history of branding as well as the steps used in creating a strong brand. What are the issues involved in the creating process and once established what is needed in order to keep your brand awareness strong for the long haul.

History

Despite the fact that most people think of branding as a rather new concept in an ever-growing market, branding can be dated centuries back. In modern time it is not only products that are being branded. Companies, Universities and even people brand themselves. Jennifer Lopez is an excellent example of a person branding herself. Her name does not only sell music albums, but also clothing lines, perfumes and a range of other items associated with her name. She has truly made her name into a brand well known all over the world (BrandingStrategyInsider.com).

Ultimately brands are created to insure honesty, provide quality, to differentiate from others and to create an emotional connection between buyer and product. In order to truly understand where branding comes from it is important to go back in time Going back in time there are records of tobacco and medicine companies branding their products in the early 1800s. The literal meaning of the word branding, stems from the time where criminals were literally branded, as a form of punishment and identification.

The Nazis branded the Jews in form of tattoos, in France a fleur de lis was branded on a persons shoulder and slaves were branded to show ownership. Branding does however go even further back in time. In China ca.1300 BC, porcelain and pottery was marked or “branded”. The same goes for a lot of art and craft from Greece and Italy to name a few. Archaeologists have even found evidence of branding that dates back three to five thousand years BC (BrandingStrategyInsider.com). Branding

Before going through the eight steps of the branding strategy it is important to understand the utmost fundamental issues regarding branding such as: Identification, Selection, Communication and Differentiation.

IdentificationIdentification is crucial for branding. Without this the process of relationship between seller and buyer cannot begin. The way to indentify a product is through the marketing mix, which may be different for products but the key here is to make sure that the focus is there all the time, all year round (Judd associates.com). Selection

Selection can only take place after a product has been identified in order for the consumer to select the brand. A company brand needs to be separated from competitors in order for customers to clearly notice the brand and thereby select it. Communication

Communication takes places after identification and selection. Now the company must try and reach their audience that is their potential customer in order to communicate everything there is to know about the product and the potential benefits of choosing their brand. Differentiation

Differentiation can only happen once communication takes places so that hopefully customers can differentiate one brand from another. Once this stage takes place the company brand should be very clear and customers should have formed a relationship with the brand (Judd associates.com). Branding strategy

When people are choosing a product and they have a large range to choose from, often the only way for them to differentiate from one product to another is through a strong brand name. Following are some steps in order to strategize the best way to build a strong brand for companies. Look towards the future

According to Scott Bedbury, a veteran in the field of branding “In an age of accelerating product proliferation, enormous customer choice, and growing clutter and clamor in the marketplace, a great brand is a necessity, not a luxury” (Webber, 1997). Despite the fact that there are many brand names that have been alive for decades many companies have sold out their brands in the past couple of decades.

The focus was on the short-term economical goal as opposed to looking to the future and focusing on the long term in order to differentiate the product. In order for a brand to survive on a global market, companies need to take the long-term approach, focus on the barriers of taking a brand between cultures and last but not least, create economies of scale.

Any product has the potential to be a brand.Even though it may seem like some products have a better change of becoming a global brand, any product has the potential to be a brand. The point is to connect emotionally on whatever level is most suitable. If companies manage to create a unique emotion then any product should be able to transcend beyond boundaries.

A great brand knows what it stands forAny company looking to building a great brand should first of all look to what the customer perception of the product is. In the end they are the ones that are going to buy the brand and therefore their input should be of greatest concern. This step should be easy to conduct and there are many marketing tools that can be applied such as consumer surveys or even focus groups. However there is also the responsibility of the company to come up with new ideas, add new dimensions to the product and again find the emotional connection (Lake, n.d.).

Raising the bar when brandingSometimes companies are faced with trying to build a brand that covers many categories of products. When this is the case it is important to rise to the occasion by raising the bar. Global brands such as Nike and Apple have done just that. At Nike there are many categories of products but in the consumers mind they all stand for the same emotion of fitness and life.

Apple has managed to create a personal connection between their products and their consumers. Apple is conceived as being for the individual who can create greater things by using the products. In order to stay alive and connected on a global scale it is vital that companies add a greater sense of purpose into their brand.

Tapping into the emotional experienceAll great companies presumably have the goal of being at the top. In today’s market innovation and quality are not enough to stay at the top of the game. These are important issues but the reality of the world is that it is often driven by emotions. Often famous people are used to connect brands to customers. They create a feeling that is perceived desirable by people. Pepsi is a brand that has often used famous entertainers in their campaigns in order to tie their product with a certain status and desirability.

Another side of the emotional connection can also occur when companies tie a history to the product. A story is used to create a certain connection to the consumer. It creates an emotional context for people who see themselves as being part of something great. When companies reach that transition of not just being any product a brand is born (Webber, 1997).

A global brand needs to be consistentCompanies need to be consistent when it comes to their overall vision. Even though innovation of new products can be a positive thing companies have to be careful of not loosing their look and integrity. The biggest names in fashion are those who have stayed true to their original vision and despite being fashion-forward they would never launch a fashion trend that they did not truly believe in. A company’s vision must be clear to all employees involved in the designing process in order to watch over the visual expression of the brand (Lindstrom, 2000).

A great brand is not one-dimensionalSome companies fall in to notion that relevant means cool. Those brands that think this way may often fail despite being very current due to the fact that if this is the only vision there may not be enough to sustain a brand. Brands need to position themselves where the market wants them to be and not where companies think they should be. In the end customers are looking forlong lasting value

Branding across culturesCulture is one of the main factors that influence who we are and how we behave and according to Sir Edward Burnett Tylor is defined as “that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society” (Tylor, 2007).

Branding across cultures can be a difficult task but if companies pay attention to the difference in cultures they can be successful in a global market. In some parts of the world some colors or images may be offensive and should be avoided in order to not create a negative association between the product and the brand. Other issues may be in relation to the name and the logo, which will be looked further into. It is said that you only make a good impression once and that is also true when naming a brand (Marketingmo.com).

The product. When customers hear a brand name they should immediately be able to connect it to a certain product or an emotion. Some companies opt for a brand name that describes what they are selling such as Toys ‘R Us, while other companies have managed to tie a name to something not quite so obvious such as Starbucks. Another part of the branding process is to connect a strategy or a slogan with the brand such as Nike’s “Just do It” or Coca Cola’s “Just for the feeling”. When it becomes part of the brand it defines the product even further. In order for companies to compete the brand name must not be generic or limited to one specific thing, especially if it provides a range of products (Post, 2005). Conclusion

In order to compete on an international market there are many things a company needs to consider. Building a strong brand can be very difficult even for a local market and going global with a product only increases these challenges. A brand that is competing internationally needs to remain recognizable while being compatible with different cultures and traditions. It has to focus beyond the local market and tackle the difficulties of crossing borders. The best way to sum it up in one sentence is to use a quote from Jacques Chevron “A global brand is one which is perceived to reflect the same set of values around the world” (Chevron, 1995).

References

Branding Strategy Insider (August, 2006.). History of Branding. Retrieved March 28th from http://www.brandingstrategyinsider.com/2006/08/history_of_bran.html. Chevron, J.R. (May, 1995). Global Branding: Married to the World. Advertising Age Judd associates (n.d.). Brand Strategy: Introduction. Retrieved April 1st from http://www.juddassoc.com/brand-strategy. Lake, L. (n.d.). What is Branding and How Important is it to Your Branding Strategy? Retrieved April 2nd from http://marketing.about.com/cs/brandmktg/a/whatisbranding.htm. Lindstrom, M. (November, 2000). Global Branding Versus Local Marketing.

Retrieved March 30th from http://www.clickz.com/832711. Marketingmo.com. (n.d.). Process, tips and strategy for business marketers: Brand Strategy. Retrieved April 2nd from http://www.marketingmo.com/strategic-planning/brand-strategy/. Post, K. (June, 2005). Brand Naming. Retrieved March 25th from http://www.fastcompany.com/resources/marketing/post/060605.html. Tylor, E.B. (2007). Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved March 23rd from http://stuwww.uvt.nl/~csmeets/manual.html. Webber, A.M. (August, 1997). What Great Brands. Retrieved March 26th from http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/10/bedbury.html.