According to the recent
Best Global Brands 21
report, even in a context of profound change at all levels, the best global brands have recorded the highest growth in history. This fact only highlights that internationalization is one of the main growth instruments of any company, in which the brand plays a strategic role of vital importance.

The Internet is a window to the world, once you are on the Web you are accessible from any country. But to become a global brand, you need to be aware of a number of implications that go beyond being listed on Google. If you’ve only built a local or national brand so far, don’t expect the same strategy to be valid in an international arena as well.

What is a global brand?

A global brand is one that is able to create consistent meaning across markets around the world. At its core, a global brand connects with people from any country and culture who recognize a common and unique value proposition. The biggest benefit of a global brand is economies of scale, the transmission of a consistent image streamlines branding efforts around the world. The greatest threat comes from reputation, since any scandal affects globally, leaving no market untouched.

Factors Needed to Expand Your Brand Internationally

  1. Market. Their choice will be defined by a set of variables of various kinds: macroeconomic, demographic, geographical, political, etc. We must find different measurement elements that identify a place for our brand in a market in which we have not operated and in which, without a doubt, we are going to find new competition.
  2. Portfolio. It is necessary for our portfolio to be optimized to be competitive in a new market. Let’s review the category in which we compete and check that our portfolio is competitive. Let’s make sure that our brand names get a positive perception in other languages. Let’s also make sure that our logo is appropriate taking into account the cultural derivatives of the destination country. (e.g. A logo with a female silhouette would not be suitable in Middle Eastern markets.)
  3. Culture. Culture is shaped by a system of shared beliefs and values. But cultural perceptions vary enormously from country to country. There are countless factors that influence consumer perception that cannot be overlooked. (e.g. Road safety is not a valued concept in Russia, while Volvo is a Swedish firm that represents the maximum exponent in this term, so it has had to reinforce other arguments to convince in this transcontinental country.
  4. Packaging. Cultural aspects greatly condition the visual style of our packaging and communications in general. It is well known that colors are perceived differently between different markets. (e.g. While in Europe white is a symbol of purity, in India it is the color of death.) On the other hand, the legal constraints vary from one country or community to another. (e.g. In food, it is essential to consider the adequacy of nutritional data.
  5. Records. Make sure you keep patents, registrations, and intellectual property rights (names, trademarks, designs, etc.) in the markets where you want to be present. Check its validity if you want to avoid problems and be protected. Also consider the suitability of obtaining new local registrations on the internet (.eur, .nl, etc).

A Matter of Perceptions

To be a global brand, you need to build international brand awareness. The way to achieve this is to communicate a message that is relevant to the needs and desires of customers internationally. It may sound simple, but it’s not easy considering the different cultures you’re targeting. Make sure your messages are delivered in terms that customers can internalize and predispose them to open a relationship, and do so through the channels that will actually reach that prospect.

  • Create your message. Be sure to consider what the competition is doing. Keep in mind that what may have seemed ingenious in your home country may be misunderstood in a new market.
  • Get the message across through the right channels. Be sure to communicate your message where it will actually be received. Identify the habits and lifestyles of your new customer base, and based on that information find the most appropriate channels in each case.
  • Communicate the right way. Form and tone are just as important as the words you choose. What kind of interactions will you have with customers? The tone of voice will be conveyed through advertising, packaging, sales staff…

You need to be vigilant to maintain your brand’s reputation in every market you operate in. That gets harder as the business gets bigger. Remember, your brand is a promise. You need to make sure that customers’ experiences with the brand are positive. A bad customer experience often expands further than a good one. You need to be constantly vigilant. Consider developing an employee behavior manual, invest in staff training, incorporate quality controls, and make sure you deliver on the brand promise no matter the market.

Internationalization strategies

Of course, there are many factors to consider, but we can start with these 4 strategies:

  1. Global Strategy – Maximizes overall efficiency and keeps decision-making centralized. In industries characterized by high integration and short innovation cycles, a globally oriented strategy is recommended. In this case, the corporate headquarters controls the operation. Economies of scale are a top priority, brands are highly standardized. However, adaptation to the specific needs of the local market is limited.
    • Example: Apple applies this strategy to its iPhones and iPads. Design, production and marketing are controlled by a single unit worldwide. Market-specific adjustments are usually limited to details such as the power cord, which must meet different voltages that vary from country to country.
  2. Multi-Domestic Strategy – Strong decentralization with significant product adaptations. In this case, business models and products are strongly adapted to the needs of local customers. Each country operates largely independently. Economies of scale are diminished in order to achieve greater acceptance in local markets. However, the high degree of adaptation can prove to be a problem when the brand has to stand firm against competitors in a highly globalized environment.
    • Example: American restaurant giant Yum! Brands, operator of Pizza Hut and KFC


      among others, adapts its menus to local tastes and culinary specialties in all markets.


  3. Transnational strategy – Combining the strengths of the first two strategies. The transnational strategy aims to combine the flexibility of the multinational strategy with the efficiency gains achieved by global standardization. Recommended when companies are equally dependent on economies of scale, as well as adapting to the needs of local customers. Brands managed under this strategy can be bolstered by the reputation of their country of origin.
    • Example: IKEA is committed to providing its global customers with a unique shopping experience that increases the global recognition value of the IKEA brand. In addition to the standardized product portfolio, there are numerous local variants.
  4. Replication strategy – Limited standardization and little local customization. Companies that follow this strategy focus on the needs and desires of domestic customers and simply export their products to generate additional sales. The organization provides a relatively low level of local response and requires a relatively low level of global integration.
    • Example: Wal-Mart It has reproduced its original model internationally. Two drawbacks: the lack of local responsiveness and the difficulty of validating a clear competitive advantage.

Conclusion

Be that as it may, and in addition to what has been mentioned above, it should be noted that the principles of branding are universal: Ensure consistency in the brand positioning, transcending the promise and building a purpose, harnessing the brand’s potential to foster innovation, generating Meaningful and consistent brand experiences

Brands that understand branding from a more proactive than reactive perspective will be those that will lead the future and many of them will do so for an international market. Undoubtedly, the true competitive and sustainable advantage in a global market lies in brands.

 

Carlos Puig Falcó
CEO of Branward