Online Brand Development
The key to successful global brand development on the Internet is trust. Your prospective clients must be able to determine in less than 10 seconds whether or not they trust your Web site enough to continue to learn more about your organization or click away to the next link. There are many ways to visually and verbally cue in your visitors to the ethics and intregrity of your brand. The main component of a brand is trust, but how does a company develop trust online?
Global Branding: Insights and Assessments
(Article adapted with permission from the London Business School, Business Information Service)
Global brand: a brand whose image, positioning, advertising strategy, personality, look and feel are identical or extremely similar from one country to another. Global brand leadership: Creating a strong brand in all markets appropriate to that market; aim is consistency rather than uniformity. Latest thinking: if you're aiming to develop a global brand it's more effective to focus on developing consistent global brand leadership within your organisation. Out of this is more likely to emerge appropriate brand strategies which may or may not result in global brand uniformity.
The core logic for global branding driven by a single brand strategy, includes:
- increasing consolidation and globalisation of media businesses especially the emergence of internet websites as an advertising medium capable of easily reaching a global audience
- cost savings of using a single global advertising agency to create a single ad campaign which works as well in Adelaide as it does in Zagreb.
First steps toward building an effective global brand management process:
Share insights and best practices across borders.
Managers in different countries need communication channels ranging from formal meetings, informal encounters, intranets, field visits, and sharing research results. Aim to find out what has and has not worked elsewhere. Challenge: how to get busy people to take time to document and explain why their efforts have been successful or ineffective.
Develop and support a global brand planning process.Tie global brand strategies to local and country brand strategies by developing a shared vocabulary and process model to use for eg strategic analysis, brand strategy, brand building programmes. Communicate brand identity to all in company and company partners by eg brand manuals, workshops, newsletters, videos.
Assign responsibility to create cross-country ‘synergies'.
Regardless of how uniform or unique the brand is globally, the brand needs a person or team with political and organisational power and authority to provide multinational and global brand leadership and to deliver brilliant brand-building strategies.
Getting the balance right
Challenge: balance the need to build global brands with the need to use in-depth local knowledge to build local brand strength based on local differences.
Global brand equity includes the totality of brand images spanning not just categories but cultures. It is a complex, dynamic interaction of the different perceptions, beliefs, attitudes and behaviours that particular consumers associate with the brand – whether created intentionally by the company or not.
Pointers to balancing local with global:
Continually steer and develop consistent, strong, favourable, unique associations across the spectrum. Actively build and control different but appropriate perceptions of the brand in particular markets while keeping each one consistent with other images. Harness unconnected local brand strategies; minimise strategic anarchy conflicting messages.
Determine global vs local strategies. Decide which aspects of the brand will be the same worldwide. Define what the brand stands for and what elements will be discretionary in each market such as use of product promotions.
Visual identity. How similar or different should the visual and graphic representation be in terms of ,say, colour, typeface, logo, look and feel of the product itself.
Advertising strategies. Using one agency worldwide brings consistency but puts all the eggs in one basket. The multi-agency approach can generate more creative ideas regionally but needs more active client-side coordination and control.
Barriers to global branding
There are many obstacles to global branding, however. In reality, thinking only globally may damage a brand locally. What works well in one region may actually not fit with the brand, company, customers or markets in another region. Barriers include:
- Elusive economies of scale. For example, it is sometimes more appropriate, effective and cost-effective to create ads locally.
- Very difficult to form a successful global brand team with a single brand strategy that can be applied effectively worldwide. Even the largest multinationals may not be able to support the necessary working practices.
- Cannot simply impose identical brand attributes in all markets. For example, in Japan Honda means speed, youth, energy. In US Honda means quality, reliability and value. Attempted repositioning in one market may be costly, confuse consumers and decrease their purchasing confidence.
- Regional renaissance. On the one hand there is a rise in supra-national federations (such as EU, WTO, NATO). On the other hand there is an upsurge in regional or local ethnic identity and devolution of power from large nation-states to smaller states or autonomous regions.
Therefore the brand may be global but consumers may remain resolutely local. It may be more effective to co-ordinate many regional or local images while allowing for local accountability and autonomy.
Rise in global consumer activism and demands for local accountability. Customers are demanding more brand and corporate transparency. They want transnational companies to be more socially and environmentally accountable to the local communities in which they manufacture and/or sell. Global brands which are perceived as monolithic with little or no global or local social responsibility are increasingly targeted by campaigners. Brands can also be exposed to worldwide bad publicity and comment through global news networks and anti-corporate websites.
Extreme anti-global-brand backlash. Violent demonstrations and attacks at a recent WTO summit in Seattle targeted Nike, McDonalds, Gap and Starbucks. The organisers may be perceived as a few extremists but their plans and actions were noticed worldwide on Internet and traditional media.