on 20 Oct 2017 3:23 PM

Recently I've heard a lot about “brand positioning for export vs. home market”. This approach contains the seeds for "brand multiple personality disorder" and carry the seeds of destruction for any international brand. There are ways to avoid this trap and build brands with a single proposition – no matter where. Read here how we do it at Brand Reveal.

If consumers are different from market to market, then they should want different things. And if marketing is about “providing consumers with what they want”, then a brand ought to have different expressions between its home and export markets. Wrong. Do that and will come a day where packaging and communication will take different routes, only with a meaningless name as union point. Do that and there will come a day when your consumers will not understand what the brand stands for, and will not risk their hard earned money on your products.

Even if you are a “small and local” players, do not think that others won't see you. The age of isolated markets are gone in this instant and global digital age. So not only you need to be relevant and appealing, you also need to be consistent. So how do we speak to “different” audiences? It is simple and complex at the same time as this it requires strong intercultural sensitivity, good insight generating abilities and creativity. This is how we do it at Brand Reveal.

  1. Get intimate with consumer motivations, i.e. what drives consumers to chose particular brands in given social occasions. At the emotional level, brands are social facilitators which help interact with others and project desired personas. There are 6 to 8 basic motivations depending on models, such as “Status” or “Affiliation”. But they are true no matter the countries.
  2. Identify where your brand has the right to play in these motivations. Run a consumer survey in your markets or make an educated guess. This allows to map who is playing in which motivations, assess market sizes and identify competitors. If you are a rum producer in the affiliation territory, you may discover that beer too is a strong contender in this motivation space…
  3. Understand that – no matter cultures - people share common motivations. Only their expression can differ from country to country. If your brand is about “Status”, perhaps a Parisian will enjoy intellectual achievements (read a book…) and a Shanghainese will value his 1st million dollars… But eventually, your brand will always be about “Status”. Some may argue that packaging may differ across cultures. Here, beware of stereotypes, stay true to the brand story and obvious cultural pitfalls when designing your pack.
  4. Define a single minded positioning statement, i.e. the Key Brand Benefit + target audience + reason to believe. The positioning summarizes the brand definition (values, personality, benefits, facts & symbols, USP). And there must be only one positioning. If you have several variants (for different markets or prices), develop a variants’ architecture, each of them with a specific brand building role.
  5. Develop a common basic branding and call to action for use across markets. If international icons managed to do it (Johnnie Walker & Keep Walking, Nike & Just Do it, Apple & Think Different), then why not you ?
  6. Create brand expressions that bring to life the same motivation and positioning, but in line with local cultures. This requires to chose priority markets to accompany your international expansion strategy. Is your brand about “Affiliation”, i.e. friendship? Then perhaps it will work well with TV & Football moments in a market X, and a BBQ in market Y… But at the end, it's about making friends.

Follow these steps, and not only you will succeed in ensuring a positioning consistency across markets, but you will also enrich your brand with multiple facets that converge into a same core offering. If you wonder how to build your brand in a consistent way across markets, do reach us, we have more than 20 years of experience in international brand building.