Global Marketing

What Makes a Successful Global Brand – Avoiding Fatal Flaws

By, Natalie Filice, Katie Kirk, & McKenna McVicker

Creating a successful global brand, in a world of increasing accessibility to information and products, is no easy feat.  A company web page and social media outlets can be instantly accessed from anywhere across the globe, however, a brand must be more than just reachable. A brand that is internationally effective and recognized does so by extending itself beyond mere accessibility. Most brands that fail to transcend borders, fall victim to specific fatal mistakes. What factors lead to a brand’s successful international, or multinational, strategy? And how can these fatal flaw be avoided?

In the article, 5 Strategies to Build a Global Brand, posted on, Gwen Moran addresses what it takes to build and maintain a globally powerful brand. Gaining insights from branding expert Barbara E. Kahn’s book Global Brand Power, Kahn has identified how brands thrive across borders.  Moran outlines that success boils down mastering 5 factors: 1) Understanding Customer Behavior, 2) Positioning Yourself Properly, 3) Knowing How Your Brand Translates, 4) Thinking broadly, and 5) Finding Good Partners.

  1. Understand Consumer Behavior
    Consumer purchasing patterns are not the same from one country to another; customer preferences and buying habits vary based on culture. Brands that fail do so because they fail to recognize this fact that consumer needs and wants are not the same from one country to another. Implementing a successful global brand strategy requires researching how customers shop and what cultural values push consumers to purchase.
  2.  Position Yourself Properly
    Properly positioning a brand requires careful consideration of your competitive advantage.  However, it is equally important to evaluate the competitive advantage of the competition. When entering the marketing of another country, it is crucial to determine what companies and brands currently exist within the market in order to gain insight into how and what consumers are already provided with.  Understanding the competition leads to the ability to properly craft differentiation strategy and implement a sustainable competitive advantage. It's also important to determine how consumers are shopping: online, specialty stores, warehouse-style stores and so on. Depending on where you position yourself within the market, will directly reflect the access and preferred shopping medium consumers will have.
  3.  Know how Your Brand Translates
    Failing to consider how a name translates, literally or socially, could not only potentially lead to a humiliating blunder going viral, but could also be devastating to brand image. One notable example that Kahn mentions, is French cheese brand Kiri adapting  its name to Kibi when entering the Iranian market. A decision that proved to be critical to the brand successful market entry due to the fact that in Farsi Kiri translates to “rotten” or “rancid”.  Additionally, it’s just as  important to be mindful of what colors are prominent within a culture and what emotions are associated.
  4.  Think broadly
    Thinking broadly directly relates to a brand’s ability to translate into the language and culture of a new regional market. A company may require adding new products to their portfolio based on demands in regional markets. In order to have a successful and sustainable global brand, it is crucial that the company name and brand image be flexible enough to endure product changes. Kahn explained that Boston Chicken changed its name to what is now Boston Market, because of the addition of new products.
  5. Find Good Partners
    When entering markets abroad, it is crucial to closely protect and monitor intellectual property by filing for the right patent and trademark protections within any necessary legal bodies.  If there are licencing agreements in place, it is necessary to implement tight controls in order to protect the brand image. Tight controls ensure that the overall vision of the organization is upheld and that is it communicated consistently across all channels.