International branding

International branding – centralized oder decentralized? Optimized for efficiency or effectivity?

Many companies in Bavaria are operating european wide or globally. They all are up against the most challenging times. New products and processes are copied at a breathtaking pace. That´s why it is so important to strengthen brands and marketing departments. Only those companies remain competitive who are brands with an own, unrivaled, strong character. Such a brand which is a personality isn´t so easily copied. This is not only important for the appearance on the home market but also on the international stage.

But how do you build and lead international brands. Global or local? What is better in respect to costs and effectivity? Like always there is no simple remedy, it always depends on the situation.

Favorable: global, unified, coherent appearance that strengthens the brand

For a number of clients we centrally develop and run unified international campaigns. The reasons are manifold: Budgets are limited, standardization is cheaper, client´s organization is centralized, the products are evaluated by the same criteria and used in the same way everywhere . This is mostly true when target groups are comprised by jet-setters.The most important reason however is : consistent branding with the same focused brand message strengthens the brand and creates a real power house.

Strong brands send one core message that is based on its DNA. Varying brand messages do confuse just as dazzling personalities do. They endanger the development of trust which is essential to compete against the ever growing armada of low cost providers.

Effective: local approach when markets differ substantially

Nevertheless there are clients we recommend to act differently in different markets. We prefer this, when cultural habits vary, market structure and maturity levels differ or strong national competitors require different positioning priorities and when sufficient budgets are available. Then we teach our partners the clients´ CI and provide knowledge and understanding of the brand.

Favorable and effective: combination with big idea

In most cases we apply our so called brain trust model. We create a new balance between efficiency and effectivity. By involving the foreign subsidiaries and their "territorial rulers" already when exploring the DNA of a brand we motivate them for the brand. Our partners, all owner managed agencies, that are only dedicated to the client and don´t have to follow interests of an HQ at Wallstreet, collect data on market, competition and target groups and insights for us.

As lead agency or jointly in a team we develop a clear core message

As lead agency or jointly in a team we develop a clear core message using the core values of a brand. Crowdsourcing in our net helps to identify the core creative idea. Core message and core idea are formulated in a way that they can be accepted globally, with heart and brain. We are always on the search for the big idea and do not accept the smallest common denominator with interchangeable, bland messages and pictures.

Once the big idea is found and accepted, communication channels and design can be varied in different countries. So we multiply the power of the idea. In this way we created many campaigns that received awards and gained high business results also in foreign countries.

New communication calls for mixed forms

New social communication channels require variations in communication. In the digital age a message can not be simply rammed in. The much vaunted dialog only works if you speak the language of the audience and dialog partners and if you are responsive to their specific needs, expectations and psychological specifics. We create sales support material in a modular way that allows for adaptation & variation without loosing the core message.

Mobile realtime communication demand fast reactions to local dynamic actions. That´s why decentralization and delegation of responsibility often happens first in PR and social media But a clear simple strategy is needed to ensure success, a big idea that guides employees and makes them proud brand ambassadors. This "heads of mission" may embellish the communication, it will still benefit your brand account.

Ingrid Wächter-Lauppe's picture

Ingrid Wächter-Lauppe

Geschäftsführende Gesellschafterin der Wächter & Wächter Worldwide Partners