Insights and real examples on how to present your brand to an international audience
In this webinar, the following is discussed:
How branding has shifted the way you scale your brand
The 6 critical strategies to scale your brand globally
The downside of making your brand global
The business impacts of brand abuse and how to deal with them
The following is part of the transcript of the webinar, featuring a conversation between Karen Post, Author and President of Brain Tattoo Branding, Conrado Lamas, Marketing & Communications Manager at Red Points.
Karen Post 2:36
The meaning of the brand is certainly no longer the logo adds even a tagline. The metaphor that I like to use is a brand is really a brain tattoo. It’s something that is stored in the minds of our market and our buyers. So the brand is the sum of everything you do.
Every business choice decision that you’ve made, creates a unique story and it sticks in the minds of your buyers. This ink is created by the message, your marketing the experience, and every time you repeat that, ultimately your brand ends up being what the marketplace thinks about you when they hear your name, what they feel about you when they experience your product, and what they expect when they choose you over one of your competitors.
The new mindset really takes a business brand and turns it into a trusted friend, where our focus now needs to be on helping the buyer by creating a memorable experience on attracting and earning loyalty and transforming our focus from features to emotional benefits. Because whatever country, whatever continent, whatever customer you’re dealing with, we all share very similar primal needs. And those need to be addressed with emotional benefits.
So when you think about your brand, as you think about going global, you never can lose sight of the individual customer that’s going to be enjoying your product that’s going to be buying your services. So as we talk about brand scaling and growth, I’d like to ask you and challenge you to focus on it as a positive evolution and not a revolution.
Karen Post 09:11
So our first strategy in scaling and growing your brand is to get clear on where you are and where you want to go. And this means setting accountable goals, picking your lane trying not to be everything to everyone focusing and being very disciplined in staying the course. So I’m going to share with you a couple of scenarios of what scaling and growth can look like.
Now, this is a global brand that we’re going to talk about first Starbucks, a leader certainly in their category. So you wonder how could they enter a marketplace with all their resources, all their talent, and brutally fail and have a meltdown in this country. In 2000, they entered the marketplace with big ambitions, and by 2008, they shut down 61 of their 84 stores. So how did this happen? They made the critical mistake of trying to push their existing brand that was successful in other countries in the country of Australia.
They absolutely underestimated the local coffee scene and what people felt about it. And most importantly, they didn’t make any adjustments. They used what worked in other countries, and they tried to apply it to this country. And the end result was a big disaster. So we can learn a lot from that no matter how big or small your organisation is.
Another way that you may scale or grow your brand is by taking an audit of your current brand. And asking yourself, Is it time for a refresh? What we’re doing with our identity and image and our brain tattoo? Is it tired? And are we somewhat irrelevant?
So in this case, this is a global chemical company that I’ve done a lot of work with, and they work in over 26 markets new leadership came in and they decided that that was a very appropriate time to make some brand changes. So we worked on everything, all touchpoints, identity, lots of different things, very successful turnaround, it took about 18 months, it does take a long time to make change globally. But certainly, with good planning, it can be done.
A key learning from this client was that your brand, globally can often and should have a common theme. But it’s got to be relevant in the local markets. So for instance, an ad campaign. While we may have a similar look, similar big message, the language, the look of the individuals, even the storytelling may be very different in local markets.
Another way to scale and grow your business would actually be taking the opposite approach and doing what I call brand smart sizing, sometimes even downsizing. In 2008, the automobile industry around the world went through a very serious industrial meltdown. And Ford Motor Company’s new leadership came in. And they knew that if they were going to continue to grow and continue to scale, they needed to do less, but do things in a better-improved way.
So they shifted their energy to improving instead of expanding and again. But so scaling your brand doesn’t always mean doing more sometimes it can mean doing less.
Karen Post 13:13
The next strategy will be to sharpen your storytelling. Your brand essence starts with the 4 P’s of storytelling.
So the 4 P’s, the first one being the purpose and values of your organisation. This company that I’m going to share with you right now is an amazing example. Just a few short years ago, they started for college students with 2500 US dollars in seed money, and a vision to build a social enterprise to offer stylish eyewear at a very affordable price. They started off as an online play.
Now they do have some retail stores. But from the beginning, they’ve always been very clear on their purpose and values. And you can see and feel all of this through all of their communication. Recently, I read their evaluation is $1.5 billion, and they’re less than a decade old. Even though they’re a US-based company, they work with a company called borderlinx where they’re enabled to shift their merchandise worldwide, a great example of being very clear on their purpose and values.
The next P in your brand essence is to ask yourself, Where do you want to be positioned in the landscape of your category? So if you were a car, or this is a good analogy, if you’re not a car. Do you want to be the least expensive car that’s manufactured in India that sells for 2000? US dollars? Or do you want to be the most expensive car that sells for $3.7 million? This is an important question because again, the decisions that you make need to be aligned with how you want to position your brand.
The next P is probably the most difficult to get clear on and that is the point of distinction – how is your brand different? And why is being different so important? Well, different is important because buyers are flooded with information. And if you give them something unique and different, often it can be the anchor in which they remember you. If you look just like your competition, many buyers will default to selecting you or whoever they select on price. And most business leaders don’t want to be a choice on price.
So just think about the product that you offer, your path to your customer, the processes that you use in your business, what your packaging is like, or even your pricing payment structure. These are all huge opportunities to be distinct.
Here’s an example that I just think makes this point so well. So all of us probably have common things that happen in our business or a common offering. So for this example, we’re going to use the activity of doing yoga. Yoga has been around for 1000s of years.
So here are two brands that really put a different twist on it. And they not only leveraged lots of publicity, but they really continue to lay the groundwork for their brand by creating this unique twist. So the first one is a small farm in New Hampshire in the United States. And they decided to make yoga fun and interesting by adding goats, which now is an international trend that was started by this very, very small organisation.
The second example is a bank that offers banking services, just like all the other banks in this very competitive space. But they also over offer yoga classes in their facilities, it’s a great way for them to connect to their buyers to be different from their competition. So hopefully you’re seeing how you can take a very common offering and by twisting it in a unique way can be become part of your brand distinction.
Okay, every brand needs to have a personality. So here are two people. And in the same category, they’re both singers. They’re both entertainers, but their personalities are uniquely different. Adele is sophisticated, peaceful, elegant, Miley is bizarre extreme, but they both work in the same category. But by being clear on their personality, they separate themselves from their competition. So you as brand leaders, or you as managers of your own brand, you need to be able to communicate three to four strong adjectives that describe your brand personality.
So once these 4 P’s are clear, and you’ve developed your brand essence, your foundation, then you need to look at all your touchpoints, and how you can weave this story into everything from the forms that you use, to your collateral to your uniforms to your web presence to your social media.
So let me share with you a great example. This is a New York City based hotel, a very busy, competitive category. It’s called One Hotel. They do an excellent job of being clear on who they are. They’re inspired by nature. They’re very much a protector of the planet. So just when you walk by the exterior of the location, it stands out and it’s a touchpoint that’s consistent with their core. The photo to the bottom right is the interior lobby again, extremely consistent with their story. Here are some very creative touchpoints I’d like to share with you from their uniforms to giveaways in the hotel room, the hangers are actually recycled. From wrapping paper to love notes to maps, it was just a wonderful touchpoints, guests can take these home with them.
When you enter the shower. To conserve water, there is a little what would be called a normal hourglass, this is a 10 Minute glass so that you only stay in the shower for 10 minutes. And the last touchpoint is a token. So when you leave the hotel, they give you a token so that you remember your experience. And they asked you to challenge yourself and say what am I doing that is a good friend to the Earth every day. And then think about your experience at one hotel, an excellent job of using touchpoints to tell their story.
Karen Post 20:57
When you decide to go global, there is a lot of homework that you must do. I advise testing and being open to tweaking your messaging, and always have Plan B because if Murphy’s Law has its way, whatever you don’t think will happen will likely happen.
So three hard lessons that I learned on taking brands globally was the difference in interpretation of color. I once was working on a project in Germany and thought brown would be an excellent choice for the project we were doing. Well, it turned out the community that we were working in, thought brown was a very depressing color that brought back bad memories of war and concentration camps and it was not a good choice. So something as simple as color modification when you go into new markets is a good point to explore.
The next one certainly is words and how words translate a Molson Coors an international beer brand was rolling out a campaign in many countries that was referred to as turning it loose when it worked great in many communities when they translated it into Spanish, it actually meant having diarrhea not something you want to associate with an enjoyable adult beverage.
And the third big lesson that I learned, I was the first female branding speaker to address the Saudi Arabian airline, and Saudi Arabia. And I learned many things. One, when you communicate in that market, you never take pictures of government buildings, you don’t include pictures of women in your marketing and advertising. And you also need to be very sensitive to any schedule that you’re doing.
Our program was scheduled for Saturday, it turned out that King was returning suddenly to the country. And when he returned, everything in the country was stopped and it became a national holiday. So if you’re planning a big rollout of your brand, be aware that traditions and local cultures and even local leadership’s appearances could certainly impact the rollout of your branding efforts.
Karen Post 23:36
The fourth piece to doing a successful scaling rollout would be to make sure that you are leveraging all of your influencers, both inside and out. And again, this has this whole strategy I had learned the hard way of working with clients across the globe that often the marketing department the branding group will come up with a great new story, modifications, or rollout of a brand and they will just throw it out into the marketplace.
But if they slow down and make it a collaborative process with not only leadership but management and what I call talkers in the organisation, all pay classes, all geographic markets, that extra time will just ensure the rollout and will lower the amount of risk and rejection with any change with the brand.
Socialising it through the process and also providing very simple tools that are directed to these different pay classes and geographic markets is critical in scaling a brand. So beyond the internal market, you also want to look at the external market. tastemakers talkers that maybe are not even your buyers, but our influencers, bloggers, the media, strategic partners, celebrities that you either engage or organically get behind you, industry experts, and trade authorities.
Karen Post 25:16
And the last strategy for scaling and growing your brand is to always look for creative ways that you can stretch your budget. Branding, while it can be expensive, it does not always need to be expensive. It needs to be about smart strategic spending, and not just spending.
So some very cool things that you can do to leverage your awareness of your brand, and what your brand means in new markets is something that a good friend of mine, David Meerman Scott, another author, really coined the term and it’s called Newsjacking. And Newsjacking is the process of leveraging trending news to elevate your brand message.
But an example, so here’s a very small brand, in upstate New York, a taco stand. And they really understood how newsjacking could leverage their brand. And for a period of time, there was a lot in the news about Putin in Russia. And they talked about how that sometimes he was not, maybe gracious and kind, and was doing things that in a way that they didn’t agree with. And while he’s a political figure, this was really not a political strategy, as much as it was just taking a hot topic, and creating a simple news release, and some online advertising.
And the end result was millions and millions of dollars worth of exposure because they said that Mr. Putin was banned from all of their restaurants. Now, Mr. Putin may never even go to upstate New York and may never even step foot in these restaurants, but just how they took his personality with their small business and turned it into a very buzz-worthy social media statement was an incredible success story. And there are lots of ways you can do this every day with breaking news no matter what it is, you are selling.
Another way that you can stretch your dollar is to look at every piece of on-brand content that you create, from them about your business to a white paper to a blog post. And some inspiration. There’s a very fun, quirky, magazine in the US that’s called Mental Floss.
So I was just flipping through it the other day, and they had a silly article on 25 things you could do with an apple, and the light bulb went off in my head. And I thought that is just a great analogy of looking at a piece of on-brand content, the rule of 25. So everything that you have every good piece of on-brand content that reflects your core essence, ask yourself, what can you do with it in 25 creative ways.
Can you take that content? Make a video? Can you tell a new story? Can you get a testimonial? Can you create an infographic of all the different things that you can do the rule of 25 is a great way to really stretch your dollar?
The next thing that you can do is to make sure that your brand is absolutely buzz-worthy and worthy of publicity. So here are two brands. One’s a very small company and one’s a very large company. And they both took advantage of creating news the first one was a rapid reality the CEO actually sent out a news release saying that he would offer to pay his employees $15,000 more if they would get a tattoo of their company logo on their body.
Well, not only did many employees go for this, but this one activity going way back to what I said your brand was business decisions. This one opportunity turned into millions and millions of dollars for exposure for a very small company it was picked up worldwide. If you do a search for it, it’s still all over the internet a really simple idea plus it also shows you the culture of this organisation.
The next example is Amazon, which just got a little bigger yesterday or a couple of days ago when it bought Whole Foods, a big grocery store brand. But one day, Jeff Bezos said, you know, we want to make sure we’ve got the right people in our organisation.
So if you don’t like your job, you don’t like working for Amazon, we’re going to pay you $5,000 to quit. So what that did was, it cleaned out all the folks that really didn’t belong in the organisation. But again, the brilliant idea that was aligned with their brand essence and creating a news event around it, got them millions of dollars worth of publicity, that just further clarified what their brand was all about.
So hopefully, those are some ideas that you can apply to your businesses, whether you’re small, whether you’re emerging, or whether you’re a big brand. And again, like Starbucks, we talked about sometimes even when you’re big, and you’ve got all the resources in the universe, you can still lose sight of the very simple principles of building a brand, locally and globally.
So now I’d like to challenge everyone and say, so you’ve built your brand equity, you’ve built a strong reputation, you’ve got brand assets on your balance sheet, you’ve got a bright future in front of you. So what are you going to do to make sure that you protect everything that you built, and it just doesn’t blow up in smoke by some of these threats that all of us as business leaders are experiencing?
Conrado Lamas 33:19
You mentioned new consequences of the global market, once you go global. We are talking here about opportunities. You’re talking here about taking your business and your products to a new market. You’re going to get more return if you do what Karen said. You’re going to get more popular, and you’re going to have higher demand. And even maybe become trendy, right?
That would be great. But you have the other side of it, which are the risks with great opportunities, you have higher risks. So whether you’re a service, you’re selling consumer goods, brand abuse is a risk that you’re going to have.
You keep an eye on that because people are going to see your product in a new place in a new market and they might copy your idea or use your brand in a regular or even legal way. You have to understand what your brand assets are. And here at Red Points, we are usually focusing on trademarks or you’re talking about the name of your brand, your logo, also your design.
And that’s very interesting hearing because, for example, we have a lot of lighting companies working with us here at Red Points, they have this very interesting design, and they have to protect it.
And eventually, they find that at places that maybe they took the production to their copier design, which is very unique, and that’s the value of your brand, right? They don’t want to lose it. Costs are also the same, the same idea related to other patents, for example, functional designs, you know, very useful designs that are applied to a product that suddenly is being copied in other places.
Now, what do you want to protect it from? Do you want to protect from counterfeiting, from the kickoff that is going to be spraying everywhere? And what is very interesting here is that sometimes people think well, counterfeiting is, is a problem, I’m going to find a very specific weird website, it’s not the case.
We all know that major ecommerce websites, Amazon, AliExpress, Alibaba, are working with third-party sellers. And those people sometimes can try to get the advantage of the brand, that you’re building abroad, all the efforts and investment and money that you’re putting in it, and try to get to use that on their behalf.
You also have impersonation when people are trying to use fake profiles and social networks, the same way trying to use your reputation. And that has a negative effect on your brand or fake apps. Really that’s the problem on Google Play or the Apple store, they always looking for those fake apps, but you always have to look at yourself as well. Because all these opportunities, all these risks are something that is going to affect your brand and your business.
Most importantly, cybersquatting is the drug when registering registration of domain names. It’s very dangerous too because depending on the service, people can be completely fooled to think that you are they are on your website, and they are somewhere else we don’t even know where it is.
So these are usually the typical categories that we divide brand abuse into. Of course, there are other types of unauthorised sellers and also legal interviews. And the good news here is that there are things that you can do that can be done, what you should do as a brand. If you want to make sure you’re going to mitigate and avoid these kinds of risks, you have to keep an eye on where they happen.
And they’re usually happening on marketplaces, the one that I was mentioning before or directly sometimes apps now growing, you’re going to have a secondhand store selling products online, you have to keep an eye on bad websites, classified ads, it has become the whole ecommerce electronic sales system has become very, very complicated.
Conrado Lamas 38:16
So it’s a good thing in the sense that you have more opportunities for business and upselling. But it creates a negative consequence, which is you have to monitor all these channels, and you have to monitor all these risks to your brand your business.
The nature of what the ecommerce revolution has meant to brands is not the same anymore. One thing that was something that only big brands, think about, these risks are also shared by small and medium brands.
So there was this article in February, Forbes, about this family-run making big company that was was having counterfeits on Amazon. And they were doing hard work of filling the forms, and they can be very manual, you know, it can be very complicated. If you want to do it by yourself.
That’s, of course, why, for example, at Red Points, of course, we recommend our technology to take care of that. We make it in a smarter and much more effective and efficient way, instead of you logging into each ecommerce platform and trying to get rid by yourself of these counterfeits, for example, right. So beyond the brand itself.
Conrado Lamas 39:17
What are the business impacts of brand abuse? Profit loss, you directly lose a share of the market that was yours. And if you manage to get to people who are abusing your brand and taking advantage of your business, you have a fall in sales directly.
If your business has some kind of partnership, that’s affecting not only you but your partner as well. Because what is a partnership in this sense, if you’re working if you’re trying to sell your products online or offline, even when you do these partnerships, you have this exclusivity agreement with your partner. When someone is abusing your brand, taking advantage of your brand. They’re removing this exclusivity part of the agreement that you have with your partner, and you have less leverage, even when trying to look for new partnerships.
And also, brand abuse harms your brand reputation. Not only from a safety reason, because for example, fake sometimes depending on the product that you sell, they’re going to sell products that are not safe enough that can harm the health, sometimes even have children, it’s very dangerous, but also on the perception of your consumer.
For example, a brand that lives on how exclusive they are. Suddenly, if people are binding their counterfeits, you’re going to start seeing that everywhere. That’s negative for that very exclusive brand because they invest in the fact that only very few people can wear it.
Sometimes for luxury brands, your customers are not going to buy a counterfeit, because you’re looking for that exclusivity, right. But that new market that is generated by counterfeit, somehow, now it’s going to impact your brand because you’re going to lose that, that sense of exclusivity.
I just want to tell you about the experience of one of our clients MVMT. It’s very interesting because they usually say that in 2015, they were able with their team to found to find something around 1000 listings online of counterfeits of products that are fakes online, right. And with our solution, they started finding 25,000. Why? It is because we were adding the technology here.
So we always emphasise this yes, you can try to cover that by yourself. And you’ll be able to enforce your intellectual property somehow, but it’s not going to be as efficient nor effective as we can do it right.
Because we are constantly algorithms are constantly looking the web for these kinds of problems, right, and MVMT is also a good example of what I was telling you before knockoffs that are short for five to $15, of course, that they are real clients are not going to buy that product. Because they know it’s $95, sometimes $160.
And they want that sense of a premium product, right. But by diffusing, they’re spreading that their brand on a new market, quote-unquote, that it was not there before they are losing precision. Nobody wants that. So what can we do about brand abuse, just reinforcing what I was telling you before, yes, you can go to each of those platforms, ecommerce apps, social media, and try to take care of that yourself. But that’s going to take time, it’s going to take investment.
And it’s not the smart way to do it. The good news is that there is an automated way. And as a smart way of doing it, and the way to do it with red flags, we have years of experience in the matter, we have a number of experts are supporting this new technology that we created. And we are constantly looking for infringements online and force and that this is great news for Brett.
Because it’s just when you’re dealing with the internet, especially opportunities raised exponentially but risks too. So you have to use his model way of making sure that your brand is not being used in an incorrect way that you don’t want to.
Author & President of the Brain Tattoo Branding
Marketing & Communications Manager at Red Points