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