Making the Case for a Global Brand

A true global brand is the most valuable resource a company has.

Apple store in Lincoln Park (Chicago), Illinois, United States. ©Laurel Delaney 2010, licensed to About.com Inc.

Creating a global brand presence in one or more international markets isn't cheap or easy. But it is worthwhile, provided you understand the reasons why. Here I spell out what a global brand is and five reasons to develop one.

A global brand is one that has a consistent identity with consumers across the world. It can be the use of a name, term, sign, design or combination thereof intended to identify one seller and differentiate it from competitors.

Think Apple (as shown), Google, Coca-Cola, and IBM. Nowadays, social media interactions allow consumers to shape a brand fast (and take it global) by their matter of opinions and demand for the product, leaving you with less and less control over how your brand transcends borders. “Further, in a world that is increasingly globalized and interconnected, ‘developing’ countries like China are now poised to become bigger players, and collaboration—across borders, across silos, or co-creating with consumers—is more crucial than ever,” says Interbrand.

Let’s assume that’s all true, but you’re a small operation and wonder if you have the resources to take your brand global. What conditions favor you launching a product or service with a single brand name worldwide? Maybe even with the same logo and slogan? There is no single answer because a lot depends on you, your commitment and the availability of additional funding (it doesn’t have to be a lot—just enough to get some good legal advice and translation assistance).

There is, however, the little question as to the importance of a brand name across continents.

A truly global brand has the same product formulation, the same core benefits, the same positioning and same core values and cultures. Think of where you currently sell your product internationally, if at all, and where you would like to go next with it because you want a uniform worldwide image that enhances efficiency and cost savings when taking it elsewhere.

Sure, you might have to adapt the global brand for certain markets, but that’s not always the case. Some markets might receive your global brand as is while others require minimal modifications. You can address that aspect country by country.

So what are the advantages to having a global brand? Here are just a few:

  • Build up global awareness. A global brand has more visibility than a local brand. If you ship your brand to Germany, for example, prospective customers who travel there or live in the country, get exposed to it. Every time you ship to a new country, you’re building global awareness of your brand.
  • Achieve economies of scale. The development costs to fund a new global brand can be spread over large volumes. Those costs include but are not limited to manufacturing, marketing, human resources, distribution, and shipping.
  • Convey a prestige factor. We all like the “cool factor” and taking a brand global adds to the image of your brand. It sends a signal that you are committed to the global marketplace and have the resources to back it up on a worldwide scale.
  • Leverage the product to the country. As you develop your brand into what I hope is a global powerhouse, your brand name will be associated with where the product is made. McDonald’s is a true American brand; Gucci is Italy, and L’Oreal is France.
  • Is the most valuable resource a company has. The brand name encompasses the years of advertising, product experience, social media exposure, goodwill and other positive attributes the market associated with the product or service offering.

Ultimately, import/export success comes to those who have a passion for their product and service and a desire to get it in the hands of everyone in the world. With that attitude, it’s hard not to create a great, enduring global brand.