Brexit succession means nobody wins

The unthinkable happened with Brexit

Brexit is racismBrexit was a bloodless civil war. We have come along way (or have we?). Time was an obscure Archduke could be assassinated in Bosnia and the whole world would be dragged into a global war later called the First World War in history books.

In 1861, the United States of America began a bloody struggle to decide the legality of succession. We called that fight the Civil War and it took four blood soaked years and millions of lives to settle. In the end, the decision was made that no state was sovereign enough to resign its place in the United States.

Shelby Foote famously said that, before the Civil War, people said the United States “Is” and after the Civil War they said The United States “Are”.

Yesterday, the United Kingdom VOTED to leave the European Union. In our Twitter world, the vote was shortened to Brexit. It is an example of how blind nationalism can cloud judgment and how people will emotionally vote for things that in the long term are not in their own best interest. I wonder if Scotland wishes it had another shot at their historic vote to remain in the United Kingdom? Scotexit never became a word.

Brexit means?

Brexit winsI think a great deal of world stability will be shaken by this vote. I can see further troubles stirring in Northern Ireland again. I believe the uncertainty in the world’s monetary systems will shake rattle and roll the financial markets for a while as the global community tries to discount this tsunami of change. Everything we have come to rely on in this global world has been challenged.

But the reason I write this is because NO ONE doubts the RIGHT of the UK to secede (not to be confused in any way with succeed).

In the US, we thought the illegality of succession was decided and written in blood 150 years ago. Americans believe we have a corner on the market when it comes to freedom and liberty. We are wrong.

Freedom of self-determination was just exercised in Europe to an extent we can’t even fathom in the US. Had this RIGHT been self evident, I would be penning this blog in the Confederate States of America because I live in North Carolina—a state that lost 1 out of every 4 casualties at Gettysburg  during the Civil War.

To me, it does not matter if you think the American Civil War was fought over state’s rights or slavery. The impetus for the temporary dissolution of the United States in the late 1800’s was due to a racist issue.

I think the same is true for Brexit.

Racist underpinnings

I don’t believe it was so much an economic issue as it was over a war on immigration. The UK did not want Europe dictating immigration policy. They just don’t want THEM settling in the UK any more.  Think about it, the UK never surrendered their currency to the Euro. The Pound  Sterling remained.

BrexitSo much for economics driving succession.

I find Brexit a sad move. Not for all the obvious reason of a common market and ease of travel. I find it sad that bigotry wins anywhere and under any circumstances.

You can have your DNA tested for just a couple of dollars (or Euros or pounds) these days. It points to your REAL ancestry.

Funny, the differences are very small. We all began in Africa and are very much the same. Only the adopted and insignificant drapery of religious preference and favorite cuisine separates us all one from another.

How to Build a Global Brand Presence

Global Brand Presence

By Tom Dougherty

Global brand presenceOne of the most exciting efficiencies in business is the Global Brand. Global branding allows tremendous economies of scale, especially in marketing communications investments. However, these economies of scale can only be achieved, if brand impact is not sacrificed in the process.

Doesn’t this seem to be a contradiction in terms? How can Brand, which is typically optimized for a specific market and a specific offering be implemented across widely different countries and work equally hard for all of the markets and for all of the offerings?

How to Build a Global Brand Presence For Different Cultures

After all, countries are different. They have different histories and cultures. So a brand that is designed for one country may not suitable for another.

Global brand presenceIs it at all possible to overcome this problem? How do we build a global brand without making it unsuitable for some markets? Yes. It is possible.

It requires a great deal more discipline, both for developing the brand positioning architecture that is suitable for all countries, and for developing the brand design elements and brand communications in each country for each product offering. In the most extreme example, let’s say we are developing a global positioning for a brand that is associated with such different product offerings in different countries, and support it with brand design elements and brand communications that can harness local cultural idioms.

Foundation Of Global Brand Positioning – Four Layers

The foundation of a global brand positioning must penetrate below all the layers of cultural differences to foundational human values and aspirations. Every global brand architecture has four levels of thrust.

1. The deepest level of thrust is the human (as opposed to local) motivation that can be addressed by the offering. Let’s look at a good example of a global brand in an up-to-date product category – telecommunications – AT&T. Let’s say we have hard wired consumer services, wireless consumer services, and business broadband services. Here’s the crux. We must seek the greatest common human motivation that all telecommunication’s products can address.

Global brand presenceWe have to leave the product and begin with the customer, whether individuals, or institutions. The greatest single motivation for both individual and institutional telecommunications customers in our time – is to get ahead in a highly competitive environment. Individuals need to get ahead for their own livelihood, because in today’s world, to not advance is to fall back and fall by the wayside.

So the deepest level thrust is the most powerful customer benefit, of HELPING CUSTOMERS GET AHEAD. We call this the strategic customer benefit. Note: it is a customer benefit, NOT a product benefit. Telecommunications, even different kinds of telecommunications, perform a critical function toward getting ahead.

We live in a networked reality. Almost everything is accomplished through different people and functions working together toward common goals with information flowing among them. Reliable telecommunications is critical toward getting or delivering more such information sooner – either from those who have it – or to those who need it, respectively. Getting the right information sooner, or delivering the right instruction sooner, are perhaps the most important functions toward getting ahead, whether one is an individual or an institution. This is a universally true and powerful benefit, and can be addressed by all the three kinds of telecommunications product offerings.

2. The second of the four layers of a global brand positioning architecture is the strategic product benefit that contributes most to the strategic customer benefit. In the case of telecommunications, this is clearly reliability. This is because where there is little or no reliability, the information necessary to get ahead is less likely to be received or delivered, thus compromising performance, and endangering the ability to get ahead. Of course, it is not enough to just claim reliability.

Global brand presenceThe actual telecommunications technology must be reliable; or at least reliable enough keep lost communication of important information down to a minimum. Again, even at this layer, it doesn’t matter whether the product is one kind of telecommunications or another.

What is critical is that whatever kind of telecommunications is available; it must actually become reliable, even though it may not be so. As in the case of the deepest layer of customer-motivation based benefit, the second deepest layer of product benefit is also true in all the countries where the company operates.

3. The third of the four layers of a global brand positioning architecture is the actual functional technology that makes the strategic product benefit possible, and may be called the strategic product support. In the case of consumer hard wired services, the technology may be a superior fiber network, in the case of consumer wireless, the technology may be a superior switch, and in the case of institutional broadband services, the technology may be superior customer service.

Regardless of which country may have one or more of these different telecommunications technologies they will each support the very same strategic product benefit, which in turn will support the very same strategic customer benefit.

4. The last of the four layers of a global brand positioning architecture is the attribute that is most uniquely compelling, and which cannot be used by competing telecommunications services. In the case of AT&T, this might be the “global leader in telecommunications”, or something to that effect, that supports the three deeper layers of the positioning architecture in a way that both stands apart, and does so in a way that is unique to this brand of telecommunications.

Together these four layers of the global brand positioning work together but differently in each country, without being inconsistent anywhere, either vertically in chains of causality, or horizontally, in terms of the specific kinds of products being offered in each country.

Staying Consistent

Of course, the brand name and design elements must be consistent with the brand character of a world leader in telecommunications. However, the actual content and design of all communications, whether in advertising, brochures, or website, will use idioms and situations based on the local culture, while staying consistent with the global positioning and brand design.

This is how a global brand can be an exquisitely crafted conceptual structure. The language, the metaphors and the situations used in the brand communications may be unique in each market, but the brand positioning architecture, the brand design elements and the brand character remains the same across the world.


Read more here:

Virgin Gets it right

Global Strategy in Banking

Being global requires different strategy



Global Bank Marketing and Stealing Share

From Bank Marketing International

Reality Branding and Global Bank Marketing

global bank marketingLondon, UK – Here’s a branding firm that tells it like it is. The eponymously-named Stealing Share, which calls itself a strategic marketing and brand-planning firm, specializes in robbing others of market share on behalf of its clients.

Now, the Greensboro NC and New York City firm has concluded that banks are losing ground to financial services competitors because their branding positions fail to communicate that banks offer all the services necessary for consumers’ financial success. This follows an analysis of marketing approaches by institutions in the financial sector, including banks, brokerage houses and professional financial planners.

global bank marketing
Tom Dougherty

“Among financial institutions, banks have been hit hardest by the recent trend toward one-stop shopping for financial services,” says Tom Dougherty, its senior strategist. “Part of the reason for this is that generally banks compete on retail offerings and an occasional claim of how important the customer is to their organization. Their branding messages do not focus on the consumer’s desire to find a principal resource in achieving or maintaining financial success.”

Based on its findings, Stealing Share recommends that banks adopt a branding position that enables customers to link their own financial success with the diversity and quality of services and expertise which banks offer. Very few banks have “even hinted at this position of being about your [customers’] success,” it says. Best-practice in this area is probably insurer New York Life, whose anthem is, “The Company you Keep.”

This, Stealing Share reckons, reflects the idea of diversity and the success of their customers with the belief that “you are known by the company keep,” if you use us, you are one of the successful.”


Read more from Stealing Share on bank branding and marketing:

Bank Market Study

Banking:The worst of the worst

Banking Opportunity

Manufacturing Changes in The U.S.

Branding In the U.S.

By Tom Dougherty

The U.S. Consumer MarketFor the most part, American manufacturers have been chasing their tails into marketing oblivion. All you have to do is look around at the manufacturing jobs that have been running like a river from our own shores to see the problem in very real human terms.

Brands are developed so that the manufacturer is able to increase margins and preference over competing brands. The difference between the price point of a branded product and a generic rip-off is the only real measurement of brand equity. The same changes can be seen in the U.S. consumer market.

The U.S. Consumer Market

The average brand manager and brand expert would not argue with this measurement — but they would argue with the conclusions. They can plainly see that their margins are dissolving right in front of their eyes. In the US consumer market, it is no longer the name brands that set the price point. It is the generic fighting brands.

The U.S. Consumer MarketThe bar is becoming so low that US manufacturers are closing their doors and moving overseas (although there has been a recent rebound, but with still a long ways to go). The reason is that they believe the only way they can compete with cheap imports is to make manufacturing cheaper. This is like taking an aspirin to relieve the headache caused by a brain tumor. It might give a short-term pain relief but the suffering will return soon and often with a greater vengeance.

Look at Textiles

For example, textile manufacturers have shut their doors right and moved offshore to tap into cheaper labor. The reason? They are unable to compete with the price point set by the cheaper imports.  Instead of looking at their marketing departments and pointing the finger of blame squarely where it belongs — on the marketing departments total failure to create and maintain a brand — they blame it on the American factory worker.

And the wages they must pay to employ him. But Fieldcrest Cannon did not go out of business because we preferred cheaper versions. Instead of developing real brand equity, it followed the old folly of advertising’s unique selling proposition and told us of all the generic product benefits that its textiles had like color, size, softness, cotton content and absorbency. These are simply table stakes, attributes that are required for the simple entry into the textile marketplace. Where was the customer in all this? Where was the brand?

The Auto Industry

The auto industry became the next manufacturing sector to feel the results of brand delinquency. There was a time when an owner of a Ford or Chevy thought the brand said something about themselves (notice we did not say “said something about the car”). Today, consumers see no real difference in the automobile brands (there are a few minor exceptions — HUMMER for the extravagant nouveau riche, Volvo for the safety conscious family, and BMW for the successful for example).

The U.S. Consumer MarketConsumers never see themselves in the brand. As a result of this brand malfeasance, instead of choosing a brand of automobile as the first step in the decision process, they choose a model type first and the parent brand offerings are then compared by attribute and price (sounds very familiar doesn’t it?). Their first question on the automotive decision tree is —not what brand of car do I want to purchase – “do I want an SUV, Mini-van, compact, truck etc.?” The actual brand is the second or third consideration on the list as the buyer test-drives all or most of the category offerings.

One automobile manufacturer declared that it was going to pursue this new order and set its offerings as separate brands. This foolhardy approach relegates brand equity to the back shelf and forces the automobile manufacturers to compete on an amenity and price platform only or forces the manufacturer to support a myriad of brands when it was unable to support even a single brand. This is not a result of an emerging marketing trend it is the result of no brand planning and an almost total lack of understanding as to what these brands mean about me — the customer.


Airlines are in the same mess. Aside from Virgin Atlantic (fun and sophisticated), British Airways (the seasoned international business traveler) and Southwest (the individual that knows what is really important), no airline has any brand at all today. (I wrote a more detailed study about the Airline industry and you can read it here)

Choices are made solely on price and route availability — nothing more. Instead of addressing the fundamental problem of a lack of brand, the airlines decided to treat the symptom rather than the cause and developed frequent flyer programs in order to snare the loyalty of the traveling public. They too are not table stakes and the savvy traveler belongs to all of the mileage clubs. All it has managed to do is marginalize the airline brands even more and make the would-be traveler more retail conscious than ever.

This has become even truer with all the consolidation. There is less choice after the mergers of Delta and Northwest, United and Continential and now American and US Air. 

Advertising Is A Problem

The U.S. Consumer MarketIf American businesses plan on competing in the new world order and to do so by employing American workers then they had better address the basic problem with their brands (an over reliance on creative advertising vehicles) and develop a sound brand strategy.

They need to infuse the customer back in the brands, giving the customer an image of himself or herself that they will covet and pay more to own or use. Unless this happens, cheap imports and overseas manufacturing will set the price platform and, while our market shelves will be flooded with cheaper products, we will all be unemployed and therefore unable to buy a thing. If American-made brands are to survive, we must sell more than category attributes so that we might be able to command the prices that enable us to employ American labor.

Fielding Research for Global Brands

Conducting Global Research

By Tom Dougherty

The Stakes Are High

meaningful research
How the research is conducted matters

When a company makes the strategic decision to globalize one of its brands, it is forced to look anew at the brand and to evaluate it with fresh eyes. It needs to make sure that the brand definition translates into the new culture in a meaningful way. After all, there is a great deal at stake and the market is littered with locally robust brands that failed in their attempt at be globally important. There is no doubt that market research is necessary when it comes to evaluating, not just market opportunity, but brand permissions. Too often, companies spend a small fortune on research that reveals “opportunity” based on successful focus groups and U&A (Usage and Attitude) studies, only to find that when the brand hits the ground, it hits with a deafening thud and not with the sweet sounds of fleet footed patting that indicates the brand has “hit the ground running”. Why is this? The research indicated that the customer was looking for this sort of product and the usage patters also pointed to an ease of acceptance that was never realized. The problem was no doubt, the research itself. (Read about Resultant Research, the highly specialized research division of Stealing Share)

Round Up The Usual Suspects

Here is the usual failed formula for global market research:

  1. Conducting Global Research
    You must be dispassionate

    First, the brand conducts a broad U&A study of the market, making sure that the sampling is projectable and that the survey was not leading in any way. The study sheds light on the current problem, shows the brands that are currently in the solution set, shows the awareness and imagery for those brands, and projects usage in terms of volume. Based on demographic questions, the brand managers are able to segment the market to find the best opportunity.

  2. The brand then holds a series of focus groups in the new “foreign market” to better understand the language of the consumer and to test some packaging and identity themes that the U&A study indicated might be strategically meaningful.
  3. If the product is a consumer product, no doubt the brand team visited the homes of potential users and witnessed the routine “first hand” that utilizes this category of brands.
  4. The ad agency is then brought into the loop, a campaign is developed based on the learnings, and the ads are then produced, costing millions of dollars. A test market is chosen and the product is launched. Many times, it falls flat and a great deal of capital was wasted.

Do It Different And Better

At Resultant Research (the research arm of Stealing Share), a fundamentally different process is used to uncover opportunity and ensure market share growth. It is a process that is designed not only to understand the usage and attitudes of the target culture, but also to uncover the belief systems that make each culture distinct.

A Better Process For Conducting Global Research For Global Brands

  1. First, we believe strongly in-home visits. Watching product usage in a new environment is most enlightening. However, we utilize this process with one of our research anthropologists rather than the client brand management in order to witness the interactions without brand bias that those with a vested interest in the brand may have. This is ethnographic research.
  2. Conducting Global ResearchBefore we go into the field for a quantitative study and after the in-home visits, we model the cultural behaviors using our Preceptive Behavioral Model. This is this process that illuminates the probable belief motivators that are unique to specific cultures. It also helps identify the preceptive belief systems that form the culturally distinct fabric of each market segment. This modeling allows us to formulate a series of questions that are asked in the quantitative study. The modeling allows us to graphically see the relationships between the actions (processes) that we want the target market to take and the needs and wants (purposes) that drive those actions. It then uncovers the cultural beliefs (precepts) that control these (processes and purposes). Such modeling eliminates many global missteps (see “Globalizing a Brand Requires Different Thinking” to see an example of such a costly miscalculation).
  3. We then conduct a projectable quantitative study of the market, looking at many of the same usage and attitudinal issues that are part-and-parcel of traditional U&A studies but expand the scope by testing the preceptive queries that came from the behavior modeling. The information gained from testing these preceptive questions defines the core belief systems that differentiate one culture from another and allows us to identify and align the brand with those cultural currents. This positions the brand for broad acceptance within the new culture and propels it to increases in market share.
  4. Focus groups are never part of the Resultant process. We believe that all research should be projectable (or it is not research). We utilize a broad sample of one-on-one surveys so that the usage language and brand positioning can be tested and understood — but in a format that is scientifically projectable and useful, not simply as a “CYA” experiment.

A Better Outcome From Global Research

The end-result forms the foundation of a brand strategy that is unique within the culture it is destined to influence. A brand definition and resulting brand strategy is based on the needs and wants of the potential customer and not the self-serving desires of the corporation that often dictates the strategy. Effective global marketing research is dependent, not just on the methodology used, but the questions asked.

 Culture Is Defining

Conducting Global Research
Research makes a difference

Simply learning what a potential customer does without knowing why he/she does it is akin to discovering that a particular target market enjoys color without finding out which color they like best. The ability to ask the right questions is dependent on the clarity of vision needed to project the correct answers. Behavior Modeling provides such a tool and the tool is invaluable when branding products and developing marketing strategies in a new cultural environment.

The Stealing Share  family of companies work in unison to develop global brand strategies and communications that propel brands to steal market share.