Sep 6, 2018
This week, one listener, Jim, asked me about branding.
“Companies with very strong brands want to maintain their brands across markets. How do you keep the core essence of your brand but also adapt it for new markets?”
There’re several ways to scale the core essence of your brand across regions. I want to address that in 4 different elements: Logo, Design, Tone-and-Manner, Corporate Culture in 7 short minutes.
Many people associate the essence of branding with logo usage. This is indeed only one part of the story. At the minimal level, keep the logo the same across the region—unless your logo can be perceived as offensive in some cultures. The most famous example is Starbucks’ mermaid logo. In the western countries, we look at the mermaid (or some may call it, siren), and don’t think much of it. In the Middle East, a female appears on the logo full frontal, and nudity is not allowed. The logo in Saudi Arabia shows the crown of the siren on the sea, but you can’t see the mermaid. The key point is that the logo still adheres to the same look-and-feel with the same color schemes. You can still tell that it’s Starbucks logo without the mermaid image.
The 2nd element to stay to the core essence of the brand is the design of your online and offline presence. This can be your online store experience, physical office layout, or even the uniforms that employees need to wear. Again, it needs to stick to the overall brand guide of colors, fonts, personas, etc.
The 3rd element is tone-and-manner. This is how you select words and images. For some companies, the tone-and-manner of communications is casual and fun. For some, it’s more formal and business-like. Some of you are familiar with Warby Parker, the e-commerce site selling glasses. If you look at Warby Parker’s and LensCrafters’ websites, you will notice that their word selections and image choices reflect who they are or even their business models.
On LensCrafter, one of the rolling marquee images focuses on “book your eye exam now” with an image of an optometrist. LensCrafters wants to drive conversions through the eye exam appointments. Once you are done with your eye exam, you can shop around in the store to get your glasses with prescription.
For Warby Parker, rather than focusing on “booking your eye exam now,” Warby Parker helps people select glasses first. But people don’t know how to select glasses since there are many choices, so they have a quick-and-easy quiz that you can take starting by your gender, the size of frame preference, the shapes, colors, and materials, then it comes up a list of recommendations for you to choose. If you are on their websites, you’ll notice that the tone-and-manner is cheeky in Warby Parker, LensCrafter is more like a traditional brick-and-mortar retailer.
The last element is corporate culture. Corporate culture usually is engendered by corporate values set by founders or senior mgmt. It reflects on how employees behave and communicate with each other. If branding is done right, brand personas echo corporate values and culture. Innovation is highly valued at Intel, it’s part of the corporate culture but is also documented as one of their brand personas when I was at Intel.
One more point: some people may argue that product localization may affect how you convey your brand at the local level. True. Your products maybe are localized from country to country, and the content and communication outreach may need to be customized, but the core essence of the brand should stay the same. McDonald’s customizes their menus for different countries. In India, for example, they have the McVeggie.
But the core essence of their brand, which stays the same, is about a wholesome place where you can spend with your family and friends.
Ultimately, the core essence of the brand is carried out by people and products. Know your products well. Hire good people and educate your employees about your brand essence and corporate values at the local level. Training and communications are key to scale the core essence of your brand across regions. What is a good logo is also a good brand? Good brand starts with employees and products.
Jim, I hope I answer your question.
Again, send me your marketing questions or thoughts via Twitter @pamdidner
Be well. Until next time.