Building a strong brand is a rather complicated and a hard task. Even local brands meet many challenges, such as the main promise of the communicating company, the integration of the communication process or building brand associations. However, in the international branding those challenges immensely increase. Let us take a closer look at some of them and gain better understanding of the concept of international branding.
Two contradictory and even seemingly conflicting challenges exist in the international branding. An international brand has to remain easily recognized at any global location and, at the same time, to be compatible with the local culture, traditions and customers' way of perception. Saying it in other words, a brand has to remain global and local at the same time. What a challenge to deal with! Not so many global companies can really boast of finding successful solutions to it.
There are about fifty big international brands in the Global market, which proved their ability to cope successfully with such challenge. What are their secrets? How do they optimize their brand portfolio so that they can successfully operate in the Global market?
Let us look at the examples of a few brands, which have taken high positions in the range of the international branding companies. Coca Cola, McDonald's, Nike or Procter & Gamble - all these brands were able to preserve their personality, values, identity and recognition, however, at the same time, they found a way to local people's lives and hearts. How did they do it? Were there victories and failures on their way to success? Certainly, there were and plenty! The key factor, which allowed them to stay in business, was that they offered people more than only goods. They carried out to them some ideas, concepts, values, emotions, quite relevant in any country and culture. Even though, those concepts and values remained unaltered from country to country and from market to market and it permitted those companies to remain international and easily recognizable anywhere in the world. They also found the ways to adjust them to the local culture, traditions and make them more clear and relevant for local people. For instance, the Coca Cola Company had to change the product's name Diet Coke into Coca Cola Light, since in many countries the word Diet would not communicate well the idea of that drink. Or McDonald's in France met a serious challenge of a version. They had to find new ways to communicate their value and to present their brand in the new light. They proclaimed the McDonald's restaurants a territory of friendliness and freedom from prejudices. They made it a territory, where such things as race, sex, age or social status became matters of no importance. They broke successfully old prejudices and stereotypes, but they still remain faithful to their main family and freedom values.
Those are some examples of the international branding challenges and some clues how to handle them and keeping a balance between being global and being local is one of the international branding secrets.