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Market Dynamics

Finally, while the firm’s history and the product markets in which it operates shape its brand structure, market dynamics—including ongoing political and economic integration, the emergence of a global market infrastructure, and consumer mobility—shape and continually change the context in which this evolves. [6]

Increasing political and economic integration in many parts of the world has been a key factor behind the growth of international branding. As governments remove tariff and nontariff barriers to business transactions and trade with other countries, and as people and information move easily across borders, the business climate has become more favorable to the marketing of international brands. Firms are less frequently required to modify products to meet local requirements or to develop specific variants for local markets and increasingly can market standardized products with the same brand name in multiple country markets. In many cases, harmonization of product regulation across borders has further facilitated this trend.

The growth of a global market infrastructure is also a major catalyst to the spread of international brands. Global and regional media provide economical and effective vehicles for advertising international brands. At the same time, global media help lay the groundwork for consumer acceptance of, and interest in, international brands by developing awareness of these brands and the lifestyles with which they are associated in other countries. In many cases, this stimulates a desire for the brands that consumers perceive as symbolic of a coveted lifestyle.

The globalization of retailing has further facilitated and stimulated the development of international manufacturer brands. As retailers move across borders, they provide an effective channel for international brands and, at the same time, increase their power. This forces manufacturers to develop strong brands with an international appeal so that they can negotiate their shelf position more effectively and ensure placement of new products.

A final factor shaping the context for international branding is increased consumer mobility. While global media provide passive exposure to brands, increasing international travel and movement of customers across national boundaries provides active exposure to brands in different countries. Awareness of the availability and high visibility of an international brand in multiple countries enhances its value to consumers and provides reassurance of its strength and reliability. Increased exposure to, and familiarity with, new and diverse products and the lifestyles and cultures in which they are embedded also generate greater receptivity to products of foreign origin or those perceived as international rather than domestic. All these factors help create a climate more favorable to international brands.
[1] Douglas, Craig, and Nijssen (2001).

[2] Bartlett and Ghoshal (1989).

[3] Douglas, Craig, and Nijssen (2001), p. 101.

[4] Douglas, Craig, and Nijssen (2001), p. 103.

[5] Silverstein (2008, November 24).

[6] Douglas, Craig, and Nijssen (2001), p. 104.

7.4 Formulating a Global Brand Strategy

To create an effective global brand structure capable of spanning operations in different countries and product lines, companies must clearly define the importance and role of each level of branding (corporate, product division, or product brand level), as well as the interrelation or overlap of branding at each level. They should also determine the appropriate geographic scope for each level relative to the firm’s current organizational structure. To be effective, such “architecture” should satisfy three key principles: parsimony, consistency, and connectivity.

Parsimony requires that the brand architecture should incorporate all existing brands, whether developed internally or acquired, and provide a framework for consolidation to reduce the number of brands and strengthen the role of individual brands. Brands that are acquired need to be melded into the existing structure, especially when these brands occupy similar market positions to those of existing brands. When the same or similar products are sold under different brand names or are positioned differently in each country, ways to harmonize these should be examined.

A second important element of brand architecture is its consistency relative to the number and diversity of products and product lines within the company. A balance needs to be struck between the extent to which brand names differentiate product lines or establish a common identity across different products. Development of strong and distinctive brand images for different product lines helps establish their separate identities. Conversely, use of a common brand name consolidates effort and can produce synergies.

The value of corporate brand endorsement across different products and product lines and at lower levels of the brand hierarchy—a brand’s connectivity—also needs to be assessed. The use of corporate brand endorsement as either a name identifier or logo connects the different product brands to the company and helps provide reassurance to customers, distributors, and other value-chain partners. Implemented well, corporate brand endorsement can integrate and unify different brand identities across national boundaries. At the same time, corporate endorsement of a highly diverse range of product lines can result in dilution of image. Worse, if one product brand is “damaged,” corporate endorsement can spread the resulting negative effects or associations to other brands in the portfolio and create lasting effects across multiple product lines. Thus, both aspects need to be weighed in determining the role of corporate brand endorsement in brand architecture.

7.5 Managing Key Strategic Brands

Companies must also think about how to globally manage and monitor key strategic brands to ensure that they build and retain their integrity, visibility, and value. This entails assigning brand custody or appointing a brand champion responsible for approving brand extensions and monitoring brand positioning.

One option is to negotiate the harmonization of specific brand positions between corporate headquarters and country managers. This is appropriate for firms with strong country management that operate in product markets where brands were historically tailored to local market characteristics.

A more proactive and increasingly popular solution is to appoint a brand champion responsibility for building and managing a brand worldwide. This includes monitoring the consistency of the brand positioning in international markets as well as authorizing use of the brand (brand extensions) on other products or other product businesses. The brand champion can be a senior manager at corporate headquarters, a country manager, or a product development group. It is critical that the brand champion report directly to top management and have clear authority to sanction or refuse brand extensions to other product lines and product businesses so as to maintain the integrity of the brand and avoid brand dilution.

A third option is to centralize control of brands within a global product division. This approach is likely to be most effective when the business is targeted to a specific global market segment, with new products or brands, when there is greater consistency in market characteristics across countries, and when the company’s administrative heritage has only a limited history of strong country management.

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