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By Sicco van Gelder*

Abstract This paper introduces four general brand strategies and examines the internal and external factors that influence these strategies for global brands. Managers of global and international brands must understand these issues in order to assess the potential for standardising their brands across diverse societies, the factors that necessitate specific brand adaptations, and the prospects for competitive advantages. Likewise, managers of local brands need to understand the particular strengths and weaknesses of the strategies of their global competitors and use this knowledge to devise their competitive responses.

The author is founder of Brand Meta, a brand strategy and planning consultancy in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. He has over a decade of experience with worldwide research and consultancy on major brands. He can be reached at

2002 Brand Meta

INTRODUCTION global and local contexts helps determine Globalisation has been the battle cry of the the best course for them. Therefore, this last decennium of the 20th century. This paper concerns those involved in global phenomenon is not new or unique to this and local brand management, as well as period. The process has only been given an managers of local brands who often added impetus by the political, struggle with global competition. technological and economic developments that have been unique to the last ten years We introduce four general brand strategies of the century. The demise of communism, and examine the internal and external the ICT revolution, the liberalisation of factors that influence these strategies as a trade are only few of the driving forces of brand extends across multiple societies. this latest round of intensified The general strategies themselves consist globalisation. of a total of more than 20 strategy subtypes. A discussion of these strategy subThe effect that this globalisation has had types exceeds the limitations of this paper. on brands has been spectacular. New Suffice it to say that each requires its own brands are seemingly born global, or at the particular capabilities and competencies, very least experience a quick rollout from each has its particular competitive home or lead countries into other markets. advantages, and each offers consumers Many traditionally local brands are sold, some distinct appeal. The author is fazedout or face transition to a new currently writing a study that examines regional or global brand name and these strategy sub-types. The purpose of subsequent harmonisation. Brand this paper is to offer a fresh perspective on portfolios, which have been built-up global brand strategy and management through decennia of acquisitions, are without attempting to be exhaustive. rationalised in order to focus attention and resources on a limited number of strategic brands. Long established brands have enhanced their dominant positions across GENERAL BRAND STRATEGIES the globe, threatening less marketing-savvy Brand strategy is aimed at influencing local brands, but also encountering stern peoples perception of a brand in such a opposition from local brands that find way that they are persuaded to act in a ways to fight back. Some of the global certain manner, e.g. buy and use the brands manage to become local institutions products and services offered by the brand, by filling a local role in the societies where purchase these at higher price points, they operate, while others dominate their donate to a cause. In addition, most brand category as global monoliths. strategies aim to persuade people to buy, use, and donate again by offering them Debates have also flared over the supposed some form of gratifying experience. As supremacy of global brands and the branding is typically an activity that is inadequacy of (multi-)local brands. This undertaken in a competitive environment, paper argues that this viewpoint is the aim is also to persuade people to prefer incorrect and that the each individual the brand to competition. global or international brand has specific opportunities and limitations when it A global brand needs to provide relevant comes to standardisation or localisation. meaning and experience to people across Only a thorough understanding of a variety multiple societies. To do so, the brand of factors that influence brands in their strategy needs to be devised that takes 2002 Brand Meta 2

account of the brands own capabilities and competencies, the strategies of competing brands, and the outlook of consumers (including business decision makers) which has been largely formed by experiences in their respective societies. There are four broad brand strategy areas that can be employed.

be pure-bred, have a certain nobility and bearing, and exhibit qualities that can be traced back to these (e.g. grace, speed, temperament, looks). Like a horse, the brand reputation specialist can also thrive on association with celebrities.

(3) Brand Affinity. Brand affinity specialists bond with consumers based on (1) Brand Domain. Brand domain one or more of a range of affinity aspects. specialists are experts in one or more of the A brand affinity specialist needs to brand domain aspects (products/services, outperform competition in terms of media, distribution, solutions). A brand building relationships with consumers. domain specialist tries to pre-empt or even This means that a brand affinity specialist dictate particular domain developments. needs to have a distinct appeal to This requires an intimate knowledge, not consumers, be able to communicate with only of the technologies shaping the brand them affectively, and provide an domain, but also of pertinent consumer experience that reinforces the bonding behaviour and needs. The lifeblood of a process. A brand affinity specialist is like a brand domain specialist is innovation and pet dog. A dog is generally considered to creative use of its resources. A brand be mans best friend, due to its affection, domain specialist is like a cheetah in the its obedience, its loyalty, the status and the Serengeti preying on impala and gazelle. protection it provides to its owners. The cheetah is a specialist hunter with Different kinds of dogs will command a superior speed to chase, and the claws and different form of affection. teeth to kill these animals. The cheetah is also very familiar with the habits of its prey. It finds ways of approaching, (4) Brand Recognition. Brand recognition singling out and capturing its prey. The specialists distinguish themselves from cheetah is one of the most accomplished of competition by raising their profiles among hunters within the wild cat species; it consumers. The brand recognition catches up to 70% of prey that it hunts. specialist either convinces consumers that it is somehow different from competition, as is the case for niche brands, or rises (2) Brand Reputation. Brand reputation above the melee by becoming more wellspecialists use or develop specific traits of known among consumers than their brands to support their authenticity, competition. The latter is particularly credibility or reliability over and above important in categories where brands have competitors. A brand reputation specialist few distinguishing features in the minds of needs to have some kind of history, legacy consumers. In some cases, a brand or mythology. It also needs to be able to recognition specialist needs to be able to narrate these in a convincing manner, and outspend competition to gain unbeatable be able to live up to the resulting levels of awareness. In other cases, a brand reputation. A brand reputation specialist recognition specialist needs to convince a has to have a very good understanding of loyal following of consumers that it is which stories will convince consumers that unique. A recognition specialist is like a the brand is in some way superior. A brand peacock. Most of us will know little about reputation specialist is like a horse. It can birds, but we can recognise a peacock from 2002 Brand Meta 3