Global Branding Guide

Global Branding Guide
Article by Jelena Relić
Last Updated: December 15, 2023

Building a global brand is not a simple task. A global branding strategy should be such that people recognize and relate to your organization and positively associated with the specific products and services it offers.

Global branding has numerous advantages, just as it accompanies some challenges. But it's always worth it for brands to try and go global.

Let us look into what global branding means and how brands can create a comprehensive corporate branding strategy.

What Is Global Branding?

Global branding or global brand marketing is managing a particular brand in different countries with a consistent look, feel, personality and mission. The process involves planning and executing a global branding strategy along with advertising and positioning with the ultimate purpose of moving from localization to globalization.

As the world is getting increasingly connected, brands and organizations are considering global branding as a way to reach a broad audience.

Accordingly, a global brand is recognized globally or at least by a significant part. Such brands increase their strength and recognition in their regional markets while drawing support from the new regions for further expansion and development.

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Why Is International Branding Important?

International branding has numerous benefits, such as:

Higher Reach

Increasing the brand's reach is the most obvious advantage of global branding. The organization becomes well-known worldwide, attracts and converts more prospective customers, and eventually significantly improves sales.

Higher Brand Value

Global branding, when successful, raises the brand value of an organization. Most international brands, if you carefully consider them, are a part of your daily life.

When a company expands worldwide and receives brand recognition from people across countries and cultures, the brand itself becomes its most valuable asset.

New Opportunities

When a brand goes global, it opens up to new, exciting opportunities. For instance, the product of a particular company might just end up meeting the unanswered need in some parts of the world.

The company can then enter this market without any competition and position itself as a reference for the local population.

With an aggressive expansion strategy, such brands can eventually become a synonym for the category it serves in some countries.

Increase in ROIs

International branding creates more room and channels for marketing and branding investments. Global brands might launch a single campaign for a broader region instead of making multiple campaigns for different areas and markets.

This strategy saves the company a lot of costs on advertising, packaging, and promotional materials. They can focus on hiring the best advertising agency and bring together global talents. The ultimate result is fewer costs, more efficiency and a more significant ROI.

Improvement in Brand Perception

Companies that emphasize expansion can look forward to a sought-after global reputation. They become symbols of quality, especially over the local brands.

In turn, this leads to a significantly positive change in the brand's perception in several markets. Alongside, an international brand strategy strengthens identity. The brand wins people's trust and reinforces it in the places of operation without having to lose its essence at all.

Increase in Bargaining Power

With time, a global brand gains prestige, improving its reputation in several international markets, which leads to bargaining power with which the brand can yield good negotiations with clients, suppliers and partners.

Overcome Local Competition

Overcoming the local competition is an obvious but significant advantage of global branding. Through a robust branding strategy, international brands can quickly gain a competitive advantage over the local competitors.

International brands are more substantial, valuable and capable of generating impressive consumer awareness. Thus, they stay ahead of the competition.

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Factors to Consider While Creating a Global Brand Strategy

Creating a detailed brand awareness strategy is the first and the most crucial step to creating a global brand once a company decides to cross its boundaries of regional markets.

Building a strategy requires an organization to consider a lot of factors such as these:

Combining Flexibility and Consistency

When creating a strategy, companies have to ensure they strike the right balance between flexibility and consistency. It implies that, on the one hand, the brand has to maintain a consistent and coherent image in all regions to reinforce the position in the customers' minds.

On the other hand, flexibility is necessary to adapt to the local culture and markets without losing their essence.

This balance is crucial to the success of a global brand.

Building a Consistent and Coherent Plan

Strategic planning is not only the process of identifying the brand in the global markets but also underlining the KPIs, ways of analyzing and monitoring performance, and the business goals.

With regards to global branding, it is necessary that strategic planning remains coherent in the whole brand's operation.

Organizations can do this in two ways: the top-down and the bottom-up approaches.

  • The top-down approach involves creating a global strategic plan that guides the local strategies. The local teams can modify elements to adapt the process to its reality.
  • The bottom-up approach is a strategy built around each country's brand strategies.

Understanding the Different Markets

Market research is one of the primary sources of strategic planning. For a global branding strategy to be successful, companies must carry out this study in each location to define the brand's positioning and its particularities.

To understand this better, you can consider performing Porter's Strengths Study. It is a framework that analyzes the competitive scenario and the relations between the different players, varying with each location.

The players are clients, competitors, substitutes, suppliers and potential new entrants.

Learning About the Local Consumers

The market research that building a global brand strategy requires brands to execute also involves analyzing the public. Organizations need to consider factors like how big the market is, how many consumers the company can reach and what the needs, demands, and expectations of these consumers are.

The strategy will depend on both qualitative and quantitative data. The former will help size up the market, while the latter will help brands understand the local public and discover the market niches.

Defining Local Brand Positioning

Defining the brand's positioning in each location becomes easy with deep and extensive brand positioning. The process of checking this position from time to time is called a brand audit.

Organizations must remember that the brand's essence does not change depending on the positioning. The values, mission, and vision remain the same worldwide.

However, a local strategy must focus on adequate brand positioning, emphasizing the specifics of each region.

For instance, the brand attributes of Honda in the US are quality and reliability, while in Japan, Honda represents youth, energy and speed.

Challenges in Building a Global Brand

While globalization has been a blessing for brands, building an international brand is fraught with several challenges that organizations must overcome.

Cultural Barriers

For potential global brands, there are no one-size-fits-all approaches. Besides language barriers, brands must understand the local markets before driving any new initiatives. Cultural norms can act as barriers in these regional markets.

Sometimes, an email or a particular offer can offend the shoppers in one country while the same engages individuals in another. That is why spending considerable time understanding the local market is crucial.

Using the insights from big data and carefully studying and observing a society's cultural traditions are effective ways for brands to advance.

Technology Adoption

Every country seems to be at a unique spot in the technology adoption spectrum, which poses a key challenge in global branding.

Factors such as infrastructure, evolving laws, regional technology preferences, and data plans (in the case of a brand selling digital or mobile components) play significant roles in strategizing the campaign.

Brands can choose to invest in personalization technology to focus on the proper channels and make the most relevant and suitable offers to the customers.

Disjointed Teams

A disparate team can make or break a company-wide rollout. Coordinating across markets requires planning, attention to detail, consistent communication, and collaboration across departments.

Sometimes, if the team is geographically dispersed, it becomes challenging for the organization to carry out a solid internal communications strategy. Holding each other responsible can further worsen the situation, often leading to expensive delays.

Legal Obstacles

Besides cultural and technological barriers, legal implications can also pose challenges for a global brand. A country or region's legal landscape can slow down a brand's entry into the market.

Understanding the legal and political structure of the new market is necessary for organizations to avoid getting into legal trouble or undergoing a very costly launch.

3 Examples of Brands Rightly Using the Definition of Global Branding

Many famous brands have been successful in multiple countries. Here are just three of them:

1. McDonald's

McDonald's continues to be one of the brightest representatives of international branding. With a yearly revenue of $21.076 billion, it boasts a leading position in internalization.

A significant name in the fast-food industry, McDonald's serves over 70 million customers daily through 38,000 restaurants in more than 120 countries.

The brand has made this possible with an excellent standardization marketing strategy. The company smartly combines standardization with localization by modifying tastes and flavors native to the country's local markets. The look of the restaurants is the same in all regions.

2. Airbnb

Airbnb is another successful global brand to consider as the largest online marketplace arranging lodge. It has listings in over 34,000 cities spread across 190 countries.

The brand's journey has not been without obstacles. It still encounters trouble finding footing with the German officialdom as the authorities are aggressive towards the platform.

Despite all these, Airbnb has generated more than $3 billion in revenue in 2021 as it continued connecting travelers and hosts even during the pandemic. The brand relies heavily on localization strategies involving translation services and adaptation to customers' needs.

3. Netflix

The streaming giant Netflix operates in 19 countries across 5 continents as a widely recognized global brand.

From a local library of films and television series, it started expanding globally in 2010, opening its first branch in Canada. In 6 years, it reached over 200 million subscribers worldwide.

Netflix's secret to success lies in a robust global branding strategy. It included three simple yet powerful tools for brand globalization: Concept Summary, Unique Positioning Model, and the Branding Pyramid.

Global Branding Takeaway

To understand and implement global branding, brands must delve into numerous aspects such as the meaning of a worldwide brand, standardization, localization and internationalization strategies.

The critical takeaway for brands is determining the most suitable time in the organization's lifecycle to leap forward. The best branding agencies can immensely add value to a company's efforts toward building a global brand.

Global Branding FAQs

1. What is the biggest challenge in global branding?

One of the biggest challenges in global branding is achieving consistent brand positioning and messaging across diverse markets and cultures. To address these challenges, global brands must invest in in-depth market research, understand local consumer behavior, work closely with local partners and experts, and develop flexible strategies. Moreover, maintaining open lines of communication between headquarters and local teams is crucial if you’re to ensure consistent brand messaging.

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