6 Strategies to Build a Global Brand

 
6 Strategies to Build a Global Brand

Image credit: Shutterstock

Building a global brand requires more than just launching a web site that’s accessible from almost anywhere in the world.

From language missteps to misunderstanding cultural norms, veteran branding expert Barbara E. Kahn has seen it all when it comes to the missteps of launching a brand across borders. Here, she shares six tips to help entrepreneurs avoid the pitfalls.

1. Understand customer behavior. 

Just because consumers have certain buying preferences or habits in one culture, doesn’t mean that such preferences are universal. “It’s astonishing how many retailers haven’t made it because they haven’t studied how consumers shop,” she says.

In her book, Global Brand Power (Wharton Digital Press, 2013), Kahn cites Walmart’s mistake in choosing locations in China that were near industrial parks when consumers were used to shopping closer to home instead of near work.

2. Position yourself properly. 
Good brand positioning includes truly understanding your competition and then looking at your competitive advantage. Who are the providers of similar products and services that you sell in this country? They may not be the same providers as in the U.S.

For example, if you sell athletic clothing, look at where people are buying their athletic clothing. It could be from specialty stores, online retailers, or sporting goods stores. If you have a high-end brand and you’re going into a market where the preferred buying location is discount retailers, it may take a different strategy from the one you use in the U.S. “You need to understand how people shop and how your brand will fit into that mix,” she says.

3. Know how your brand translates.
A clever brand or product name in one language may translate into an embarrassing misstep in another. For example, the French cheese brand Kiri changed its name to Kibi in Iran because the former name means “rotten” or “rank” in Farsi — not exactly the association you want for cheese.

In addition to ensuring that your brand translates well into other languages, consider which colors are favored in various markets. In the U.S., blues and greens are favored, while reds and yellows are frequently used in some Latin American countries and may be appealing and familiar to audience members from those areas.
4. Think broadly. 
Since your company may need to expand into offering new products based on regional market demands, it’s important that your company name be broad enough to accommodate those changes.

“Boston Chicken changed its name to Boston Market because it had expanded into other foods,” Kahn says. If your company name is Brian’s Computers for example, consider whether that will be limiting in other markets if you also sell peripherals and services, she says.

5. Find good partners. 
Work with your attorney to protect your intellectual property overseas, filing the appropriate trademark and patent protections in the U.S. and elsewhere, if applicable. Find trade representatives who come recommended from colleagues or state or federal trade offices, since they’re more likely to be reputable.

If you decide to license your product or service name to a manufacturer or provider overseas, exercise tight controls to make sure that the provider is reputable and won’t misuse or misappropriate your name and will adhere to your quality control standards. “When you put your brand name on [a product or service], you want a consistent experience so that every time, people have it, they understand the values of the brand,” Kahn says.

To learn more about developing international strategies visit www.fluentinforeign.com or if you have specific questions please contact us at your convenience

 

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About Alexander Gordin
An international merchant banking professional with over twenty years of business operating and advisory experience in the areas of export finance, international project finance, risk mitigation and cross-border business development. Clients include foreign governments, municipalities and state enterprises as well as Fortune 500 and small/medium enterprises. Strong entrepreneurial instincts, combined with leadership and strategic skills. Transactional and negotiations experience in over thirty five countries. Author of the highly acclaimed "Fluent in Foreign Business" book and creator of the "Fluent in OPIC", "Fluent in EXIM","Fluent In Foreign Franchising", "Fluent in FCPA",and "Fluent in USTDA" seminar/webinar series. Currently developing "Fluent In ......" seminars and publications. Co-author of the Fi3 Country Business Appeal Indices. Extensive international business development and project finance transaction experience in healthcare, aerospace, ICT, conventional and alternative energy infrastructure, distribution and hospitality industries. Experience managing international public and private corporations. Co-Founded three companies abroad. Strong Emerging and Frontier Market expertise. Published and featured in numerous publications including: The Wall Street Journal, Knowledge@Wharton, NBC.com, The Chicago Tribune, Industry Week, Industry Today, Business Finance, Wharton Magazine Blog, NY Enterprise Report, Success magazine, Kyiv Post and on a number of radio and television programs including: Voice of America, CNBC, CNNfn, and Bloomberg. Frequent speaker on strategy, cross-border finance and international business development. Executive MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. B.S. in Management of Information Systems from the Polytechnic Institute of NYU. Specialties Strategic Management Advisory, Export Finance, International Project Finance & Risk Management, Cross-border Negotiations, Structured Finance transactions, Senior Government and Corporate officials liason

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