Global Brand Presence
By Tom Dougherty
One 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.
Is 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.
We 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.
The 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.
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.
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