The Global Branding Continuum

Here’s an interesting article about a book that might be worth checking out: The INSEAD-Wharton Alliance on Globalizing: Strategies for Building Successful Global Businesses. Okay, it’s not the most exciting title, but the article is worth a read.

It introduces the concept of a global branding continuum, which basically means that there are “various levels of being truly global. It is not always achievable, nor desirable, to go the full extent. Some form of local adaptation may be necessary, either in the product/service that is offered or in the positioning relative to competition.”

Here’s a good example of this concept:

    What kinds of products do not lend themselves to global brands? Food is one category where, literally, differences in tastes from culture to culture compel global companies to adapt to local conditions, according to Day. At the other end of the spectrum is a company like Intel, whose products and markets make it easier for executives to establish a truly global brand with a memorable catch-phrase: “Intel inside.”

Naturally, you could extend the continuum concept to Web globalization. While Intel uses a consistent global design template across most countries, a fast food company like McDonald’s may be more likely to “go local” with the design. Compare McDonald’s China to McDonald’s US and you’ll get the idea.

I would still argue that McDonald’s can still use a global template while remaining locally effective (and save a ton of money along the way). Besides, its use of bandwidth-heavy Flash in markets where broadband penetration is relatively low doesn’t make much sense. But I digress…

I like the global branding continuum concept because it emphasizes the immense complexity of taking a business global.

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Author: John Yunker

John co-founded Byte Level Research in 2000 and is author of The Web Globalization Report Card. He also co-founder of Ashland Creek Press.

2 thoughts on “The Global Branding Continuum”

  1. Except, the concept isn’t new at all. It’s something that has been discussed in at least 20 academic articles, and at least 10 books. So, I don’t understand why Reibstein and Day act as if they just discovered it. Even the “continuum” is not a new way of describing the concept, so its perplexing.

    For example, the MTV Europe example is a case study that’s been in international business textbooks for at least 10 years. There is even a video case of it…

  2. On the other hand, coming to web globalization, that’s a more interesting discussion. I would say that local preferences and perceptions play a big role. For example, on the issue of using Flash: in the U.S. having flash on your home page is mostly seen as passe and a waste of bandwidth. But, in countries such as Turkey, it’s a sign of a elaborate web design, even though the broadband penetration isn’t high enough to justify its use. A site without Flash is seen as amateurish, forcing multinationals to “play along”.

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