There is a word I often hear used with different definitions.
Definition Of Brand
I recently read an article by Al Ries on The Difference Between Building a Business and Building a Brand where Ries says:
What’s a brand anyway? It’s a word that stands for something in the mind of prospects. That definition, by the way, is at odds with conventional thinking.
Conventional thinking or not, I have come across many different definitions when discussing international business.
Unfortunately, I have not identified any country-specific definitions for the word “brand” or “branding”. In fact, I think people use the word “branding” with different definitions, even within one country.
In a way, the confusion on definition of the word “brand” or “branding” reminds me of the different definition people had for the word “marketing” about 15 years ago.
- For some people marketing was purely creative and more like advertising.
- For others it was crunching data about a specific market and analysis.
Complicating Cross-Cultural Communication
Recently, I found myself deliberately avoiding the word “brand”, simply to avoid miscommunication.
Here is where the problem arises most often:
- When you first market to a new foreign country you usually need to redefine your products positioning.
Different cultures respond differently to the same product. This means that you need to identify the right product positioning for your product in every country you sell it in.
The trouble is that branding is involved in product positioning.
Branding = Product Positioning
Now if you use Ries’ definition, it works well for product positioning.
You need to find the right “thing” in the mind of your foreign prospects.
Of course, this is not the full picture. Branding is more than just product positioning.
When talking about international business development, I often need to go over the definition of branding and its scope in product positioning. And once you say the word “brand” the personal definition some people have seems to override everything.
During product positioning you need to focus on the other culture… how they perceive your product, what you need to say to them and how you can communicate with them best.
And there lies the problem…
Say the word “brand” and many people focus on their own company and the image they want to protract.
If you do this you get everything wrong.
The Rise Of Product Positioning
When businesses verify their product positioning to enter a new cultural market, they often find they need to re-position it.
- Marketing to a new foreign market is cross-cultural marketing
- Marketing across different cultures within one country is multicultural marketing
- Marketing to one cultural group within a country is ethnic marketing
Why am I reminding you of this?
Ethnic marketing will develop more and more as the ethnic communities become proportionally greater in many leading counties in the next decades.
And one of the things ethnic marketers find is that they often need to reposition the product. Yes, even when marketing within the same country.
So, with a rise in the need for product positioning, there should be less confusion of the definition for the word “branding”.
Building Your Business
Branding is vital to create a successful business.
When talking about “brand”, many small companies only see the brand advertising side of what multi-million dollar companies do. Small companies do need branding to become successful. But remember the full definition.
When building your business, do not let different definitions of branding interfere with the work you need to do.
Focus your business strategy, and the tasks at hand, on the best practices appropriate for your business.
What do you think? Please share your thoughts and comments below.
Photos from Shutterstock.
Filed under: improve international marketing
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