It could be argued that many, many different factors go into the creation of a global brand today, and that the fast-moving world of social media marketing is transforming these definitions on a daily basis. However, no matter how much the online realm encroaches upon the physical world of commerce, some things continue to ring true when it comes to identifying the common ingredients that make international brands what they are.
Foremost among these is a sense of consistency. Global brands possess a consistent identity which rings true with consumers across multiple markets, no matter where they might be in the world. Coca Cola retains an identical brand message, iconography, and market clout no matter whether it’s bought in Nepal or Nebraska, and Apple is Apple the world over, and forever shall that be the case. This consistent nature can be found in the use of names, brand slogans, logos, designs, messages, functionality, and a whole list of other attributes, but the essential idea remains the same: global brands do not rely on dramatic reinventions to market themselves overseas… their authority on the marketplace, their brand power, and the consistency of their message does the job in the minds in their target audiences.
Social media is, of course, impacting this by no inconsiderable degree. The freedom of access, and the seemingly limitless reach of social media influencers and marketeers is transforming the way brands go global, and lengthening their reach across the world buoyed by both organic and paid growth and exposure. Social media interactions, too, are allowing the consumer to shape the nature and behavior of their favorite brands (not to mention encouraging global sales, often on the whim of viral sharing), driven by personal opinions and spikes in demand. In many ways, social media gives and takes in equal degrees: on the one hand, it can provide a thoroughly 21st century level of international exposure. On the other, it can put the control of how your brand crosses borders in the hands of your consumers – and diminish your control on how you’d envision this occurring.
The other key point to bear in mind when considering what makes a global brand is the nature of globalization itself, and the key players shaping the world as we know it. Indeed, ‘developing’ countries, most notably China, India, and Indonesia, are poised to become world powers of considerable clout and influence on the global markets. Collaboration across borders, across hemispheres, and across cultural divides (or co-creating with vast consumer bases) has become more crucial than ever before.
This is all very well and good in theory, and no business currently operating today is in the dark over the potential of the Asian market on global consumerism. However, what does this mean for smaller operations looking at the possibility of taking your brand across international waters? What conditions favor the launching of a product or service under a single brand name worldwide, or under a consistent logo and slogan? There’s no simple answer to this question (and perhaps it warrants another article for another day), because much of this comes down to your commitment, your access to strategies, funds, translation assistance, and access to international distributors. What does remain true, however, is the potential power a brand name can wield across continents, and the benefits that going global can bring.
There’s no hard and fast rule to answer this question, as it will depend as much on your aspirations to your brand as it will to regional or national regulations regarding on what can be sold, how it can be sold, or who it can be sold to.
However, if we were to highlight a number of consistent qualities, we’d focus upon the following being the same for consumers worldwide:
Naturally, it may be necessary to adapt your global brand to certain markets, and with the right consultancy and insight, this should be relatively easy to achieve. In most countries worldwide, notably in established homogenized trading blocs such as the EU, this probably won’t be the case at all. While some markets may receive your global brand as it stands, others may require minimal modifications; this is in the nature of international expansionism, and something to be addressed country by country.
So, what are the key advantages to having a truly international brand, criss-crossing markets around the world? Here are just a few to get you started.
It might be stating the obvious, but the visibility of a global brand far exceeds that of a local, regional, or national one. On the most basic level, going international with your business results in a far greater potential audience, with opportunities for your marketing reach to extend considerably further. Not only will you establish awareness in your new market, those traveling or establishing their own business links in your chosen international territory will be exposed to your brand, and will take that awareness even further afield. Each and every time you start sales in a new country, in a globalized world, you’re broadening your international reach.
There’s no doubt about the fact that the costs of supporting, promoting, and distributing goods and services to several countries at once can quickly add up… but the bottom lines can be spread over larger volumes and higher market dynamism. From manufacturing to marketing, human resources to distribution, and shipping to staffing, the economies of scale result in more manageable costs overall, and greater profit at the end.
The image of your brand is dependent on a whole number of different factors, but there’s no doubt that global brands have a prestige factor that’s difficult to understate the importance of. As the global market expands, and as new countries arise as key consumer bases, showing you are committed to an international marketplace is a powerful tool to possess.
Step by step, your brand will (hopefully) become a global tour de force, and you’ll have the opportunity to leverage aspects of what makes your business unique in your marketing drive. Once you reach a certain level of prestige, you may have the option - if you wish - to associate your brand with the region or country in which it is based. Just as La Prairie does with Switzerland, Gucci does with Italy, and Chanel does with France, you will be able to do with your brand and your home combined.
Once you’ve established trading and distribution partners in one country or territory, you may find that taking your brand further afield a considerably smoother process. Many consultants will guide your global vision towards key ‘gateway’ countries: those nations which hold sway over their neighbours, or which are seen as particularly influential, aspirational, or beneficial to be associated with. In blocs such as the EU or UAE, for example, adapting your brand the rules for one country automatically gains you entry into neighbouring nations, or indeed across the entire, further expanding your potential for global reach.
Ultimately, your success in achieving a global presence for your brand depends as much on your passion, your product and service, and your commitment to expansion as it does to your ability to seek out consultancy solutions that share your vision. With the right approach, the correct insights, and connections with make a difference, the world truly does become your oyster.