International Brand

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Executive Insights:
Integrating Branding Strategy Across Markets: Building International Brand Architecture

Brands play a critical role in establishing afirm'svisibility andABSTRACT position in international markets. Building a coherent international brand architecture is a key component of thefirm'soverall international marketing strategy, because it provides a structure to leverage strong brands into other markets, assimilate acquired brands, and integrate strategy across markets. The authors examine the way firms have developed international brand architecture and the drivers that shape the architecture. The authors discuss implications for the design and management of thefirm'sinternational brand architecture. With the globalization of markets and the growth of competition on a global scale, companies are increasingly expanding the geographic scope of their operations, acquiring companies in other countries, and entering into alliances across national boundaries. At the same time, with the spread of global and regional media, the development of international retailing, and the movement of people, goods, and organizations across national borders, markets are becoming more integrated. As a result, firms need to pay greater attention to coordinating and integrating marketing strategy across markets. An important element of a firm's overall marketing strategy is its branding policy. Strong brands help the firm establish an identity in the marketplace and develop a solid customer franchise (Aaker 1996; Kapferer 1997; Keller 1998), as well as provide a weapon to counter growing retailer power (Barwise and Robertson 1992). They can also provide the basis for brand extensions, which further strengthen the firm's position and enhance value (Aaker and Keller 1990). In international markets, the firm's branding strategy plays an important role in integrating the firm's activities worldwide. A firm can, for example, develop global brands (using the same brand name for a product or service worldwide) or endorse local country brands with the corporate brand or logo, thus establishing a common image and identity across country markets. Typically, the firm's international branding strategy is formed through £in evolutionary process that results from decisions to enter new coimtry markets or expand product offerings within an existing country. Often firms make these decisions piecemeal on a country-by-country, product division, or product Submitted August J999 Revised February 2001 © Journal of Intemational Marketing Vol. 9, No. 2. 2001, pp. 97-114 ISSN 1069-031X

Susan P. Douglas, C. Samuel Craig, and Edwin J. Nijssen

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line basis, without considering the overall balance or coherence of branding in international markets from a strategic perspective. However, as international markets evolve and become more closely interlinked, firms need to pay closer attention to the coherence of branding decisions across national markets and build an effective international brand strategy that transcends national boundaries (Caller 1996). In addition, the firm must decide how to manage brands that span different geographic markets and product lines. It must determine who should have custody of international brands and who is responsible for coordinating their positioning in different national or regional markets, as well as making decisions about use of a given brand name on other products or services. As a first step, the firm must examine its branding strategy and formulate the basic principles to guide the effective use of brands in the global marketplace. These principles must also establish a rationale for harmonizing branding decisions at different levels of the organization and across different geographic locations. These decisions should provide strategic direction and indicate which brands should be emphasized at what levels in the organization, how brands are used and extended across product lines and countries, and the extent...
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