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How to Successfully Take Your Business Global

Transcript 

Kathy (host):

Well, hello there. And welcome back to Help! My Business is Growing, a podcast where we explore how to grow and build a business that it's healthy and sustainable. I'm your host, Kathy Svetina. Breaking into the international market is a great way for your company to expand its customer base and generate more revenue. It elevates you, your brand, and your business, but it can be really, really complex. Because there are not just legal financial aspects that you have to think through, but there are also cultural differences that you need to be particularly aware of.

 

Kathy (host):

And there are plenty of examples, as you will also hear in this episode where businesses have failed, even large one because they were missing this crucial component of the cultural awareness. And as you're figuring this out, keep in mind that numbers on a spreadsheet look pretty, but they don't just magically appear on your bank account. Because everything you do in business shows up in your numbers, so growing internationally can look great on your P&L model when your finance person models it and presents it to you. But no spreadsheet will save you from forgetting those cultural differences.

 

Kathy (host):

So look at the numbers, but make sure that they make sense and that you accounted for all the aspects, they're supposed to take you there. Don't just take them in face value, you really have to look at them. So to help with this, we're going to be talking about what are some of the major reasons that companies fail when they're trying to take their brands internationally. And are there any examples of companies where they thought that the experience of taking their brand internationally, it's going to be a slam dunk success.

 

Kathy (host):

Especially if they were trying to grow into a nearby geographically close market, but they actually failed because they didn't account for that small culture difference? And most importantly, what can we learn from those examples and what can we learn from those mistakes? And are there any particular things to keep in mind for you as a small company when you're researching how to expand internationally. Because again, your budget is tight and you do not have this research and development budget that Coca-Cola has. So how do you use your research budget wisely?

 

Kathy (host):

Also, we're you going to be looking into if there are any markets that are easier for you as US-based smaller business to go into when you're growing into internationally. And another aspect that we're going to look into, which I thought it was a particularly interesting one. If it's possible for a company to customize the product and services so much when you're entering the new market that you actually become unrecognizable from the original form and from the original brand.

 

Kathy (host):

And what are some of the things that you should be about when if something like that happens to you? And because I am not a marketing or a branding expert, I have asked Brigitte Bojkowszky who is to join me in this conversation. So let me tell you a little bit about Brigitte. Bridge Bojkowszky is a global and personal branding strategist. She's the founder and owner of BrigitteBrands, which is a branding strategy boutique firm that empowers brands to unleash your full potential.

 

Kathy (host):

She has earned her Ph.D. in social and economic sciences at the University of Vienna, Austria, and she specializes in international markets and management. And her master's is in business administration and education. She has been teaching global marketing management and branding topics at universities around the globe for almost 20 years. And Brigitte is also a host and producer of BrandsTalk, which is a podcast for brand lovers who want to learn from thought leaders, CEOs, business owners managers, telling their brand stories and sharing valuable firsthand insights. Join us.

 

Kathy (host):

Welcome to the show, Brigitte.

 

Brigitte (guest):

Hi, Kathy. Thanks for having me.

 

Kathy (host):

Thanks for being here. I'm so excited to talk to you today because you're a global branding expert with a Ph.D. in international marketing and management. You dedicated your career to this topic, and I have so many questions for you. Because one of the ways to grow a business is to grow internationally. But this is such a complex topic with a lot of layers. Its like an onion, the more you peel it, the more there is. So, many things can go wrong if they're not done properly when you're growing globally.

 

Kathy (host):

And I want to dive into it and start with this first, what are some of the major reasons why companies fail when they try to take their brands internationally?

 

Brigitte (guest):

Okay, as you say, there are so many new reasons why companies fail when they try to go international when they venture out first. But they fail mostly because they're not prepared for an international venture and often expect other markets to be the same as their home market. And that is in realistic a very shortsighted approach and we cannot expect people in other countries to behave the same way. Even in our own domestic market, we see huge differences, for example, East Coast, West Coast, the South.

 

Brigitte (guest):

And so the question is, it really lies on different factors, so how experienced are you in the international arena? Is it the first time you venture into another market? Then you might go slow, step by step. And usually in a simple way of internationalizing where you have flexibility, lower capital investment, lower risk factors involved such as exporting. Or a partnership with another company in that local market that you are venturing into before you start any foreign direct investment, also called FDI.

 

Brigitte (guest):

So you really need to do your homework, that means conduct research. You need to understand the market. And you usually start with a market that is similar to your home market, where you apply what you have learned, built up, and experienced and have been doing it home. So you basically replicate if that is possible. So you choose a market you are familiar with, a market with a low so-called psychic distance that you have an understanding already. So really it starts with the distances in many respects.

 

Brigitte (guest):

For example, cultural distance, what are the consumer behaviors like? And what are their needs? What are their wants? What are their lifestyles? The so-called sociocultural differences that you have across markets. That sometimes is obvious and sometimes not so much. You need to really dig deep into the norms and into all the customs and the conventions in that market. Then you have geographic distance. And however, you have to be also thoughtful, because for example, Walmart ventured into Canada because Canada is geographically very, very close, because there is a border, they are bordering.

 

Brigitte (guest):

But also the culture is basically the same or there's not much difference. Whereas Mexico is also bordering and it's geographic-wise very close, but the culture is different, so be careful. That's why we also use other dimensions, other distances to get an understanding of the market like economic differences. Or what about the political, the legal, and administrative distances that are out there, or differences that are out there.

 

Brigitte (guest):

So most companies fail because they do not have an understanding of their target market, and in specific their target customers they want to appeal to. And ultimately are not adapting to that local needs accordingly. So these are the layers.

 

Kathy (host):

These are great pointers. Are there any examples that you can give us where the companies where they thought that it's going to be a really easy slam dunk thing to go into a market that they thought it's going to be really close? But they failed because they failed to realize that there were... Even though it was very geographically close, it was still so psychologically different from where they thought it would be.

 

Brigitte (guest):

Yeah. This is a really good question because there is such an example. That is a US company, everyone knows it, it's Target. And there is another company, Walmart. Walmart's succeeded, Target did not succeed at all. They failed and had to really remove from the market again. And that was only in 2011. So you would think, what could be such a problem for Target to cross borders and not be successful in Canada with its business model? And that is expect more, pay less.

 

Brigitte (guest):

Yes, Canadians cross borders all the time to just go for a shopping trip to Target. And in fact, it failed on its product strategies, so where product line dimension were just stated in inches and not in centimeters. So the little things, which become really a big issue. Then the wrong currency was used and so forth. But it was also the unmanageable deadlines they had to meet at the beginning of the expansion and a disaster, not functioning IT system that brought this internationalization venture actually to a fail.

 

Brigitte (guest):

So the whole supply chain broke down, the data quality, and the data loadings were reals with flaws. So as a result, the whole distribution system was not functioning and customers were faced with empty shelves. Their brands were just not sitting there where they were supposed to be sitting to be bought, and everyone was eager to. And so just imagine yourself, you are in this huge store and there is basically nothing because they couldn't meet the deadlines.

 

Brigitte (guest):

And moreover, the point of sales system was malfunctioning in terms of incorrect change at the self-checkouts, incorrect pricing, and the breakdown of the whole cash terminal. So Canadian customers who had known the Target brand for so long fell in love with and eventually could visit its store by not crossing borders were hugely disappointed. And we know that location, location, location, that counts. So they launched 100 stores within the two first years by taking over the lease from Seller, and Seller was a retail chain.

 

Brigitte (guest):

And many of them were in rundown shopping centers that were hard to access, so they also really had this location problem. Yeah, the problem of the problem, it piled up, and then they just had no other choice than move out of the market. And then another example would be, I think that is a very well-known example, Walmart. Walmart is one of the biggest, largest customers also in terms of revenue worldwide. But they also did not understand the customer differences and employee differences in Germany.

 

Brigitte (guest):

They went in there in 1997, and after nine years they had to close down and move out of the market. They didn't get it. You imagine such a big company, they do due diligence and they didn't get it right. Germany as a market, it's highly saturated market. There's lots of discount competition and very, very stiff competition between Walmart and the main rival. And I think you know the company, it's Aldi. Aldi is very strong in Germany, in Austria, everywhere here in Europe. It's also in Australia, but also in the US with different brands.

 

Brigitte (guest):

But the key strength was totally irrelevant. They lost a competitive advantage because Walmart was all about low cost, low prices. And their slogan was just unattractive every day, low price because there was already an alternative people had known already. And also they were too big and smaller supermarkets are preferred by the customers. And they have no distribution network at all. That's what they had and they became strong in the United States. It's another loss of competitive advantage.

 

Brigitte (guest):

And we know we should have different layers of competitive advantage in order to be successful. Because if there's a rival coming from many other industries is taking away one competitive advantage, you still have others that you can leverage. So they lost pretty much all of their competitive advantages in their market before they even went there. And also the regular circumstances, being an unattractive employer with this authoritarian leadership style. And this chanting and smiling and the performing of the chant Walmart song.

 

Brigitte (guest):

So this was nothing that employers can make friends there. The culture is just different, you cannot have them jump around and do the chanting dance. It's not what they are. And yeah, also the pay was very low, so they were not appreciated. So we’re really, really below everything. And also the language barrier. The first thing that you do is learn a language or appoint CEOs that have an understanding that are eager to learn the local language, to get in touch with their employees, to show empathy.

 

Brigitte (guest):

They had four CEOs in the first four years and all UK managers. So employees and customers did not understand each other. That was a huge problem, and yeah, the lack of customer knowledge. So now we go into consumer behavior. If not able to recognize cultural differences, you shouldn't go there. For example, they did not adapt products. They have the wrong pillow sizes. US sizes are rather small. Germany pillows are double the size.

 

Brigitte (guest):

I don't like German pillows, it almost takes my whole body. So I also like US sizes, but they only sold US sizes to a market that was predominantly purchasing these huge sizes. And this extensive use of plastic and US best selling brands were sold in bulk sizes like rice, like five kg of rice that is, I think, 10 pounds of rice as a special offer. Who buys that in Europe? Consumer behavior is different. In Europe, you like to go shopping every other day or some people just go daily for what they need.

 

Brigitte (guest):

It's not like you take out a Saturday morning off and then you go to a Walmart and purchase everything for the next week or two. That's not what people do here. To sum it up, they didn't do their homework with a lot of market research and they did not adopt a business model. So they went in a standardized way into that market, which was not very clever. And they did not learn from that because the same thing happened in South Korea. So a little different, it failed in a different way.

 

Brigitte (guest):

But still did not understand the local idiosyncrasies in terms of customer behavior. Like a Korean is a very hardworking, disciplined person. There's no need for cheap products. They rather like premium products and they really like luxurious shopping atmosphere with lots of trust and samples. And yeah, they have a very high national identity, so they would only go for global products if they really are very appealing. They forego their local products for other products if there is really a strong differentiation factor, and that was not the case.

 

Brigitte (guest):

And they don't like plastic, and again, here they use a lot of pre-packaged products. Also, Korean supermarkets are located rather in the city centers with access to public transportation. When it comes to the competition, in Korea, we find the so-called Chaebols. I don't know whether this is known, a Chaebol. They're called Keiretsu in Japan. It's the structure of big business conglomerate. It's a system that creates or a system of companies that are interlocked with a bank that is subsidized.

 

Brigitte (guest):

And it helped them basically in the 1960s to internationalize, to create global multinational companies. And they usually are owned and controlled by the same family dynasty group, founding members. And when you are facing something like that in a local market as an international brand coming in, then you have a really hard time to cross these entry barriers, to overcome that entry barrier. Because you have no distribution system. It's basically they have a monopoly on that market.

 

Brigitte (guest):

So you only can team up with another foreign company to enter the market and still, it's really, really difficult. And so what would a Chaebol be? It's a Samsung company, Hyundai, SK Group, LG Group. These are strong conglomerates, the so-called Chaebols in Korea. And that's what they were facing.

 

Kathy (host):

And there are so many things to think about when you're trying to move into the market. You gave us a whole list of that. Even I... One thing that, it stuck to me when we were talking about the European market is, I didn't even think about this before, but apartments and houses are usually smaller there. So you not have a space to have all this product that you're buying in bulk that we're so used to here in the US.

 

Brigitte (guest):

Yeah, and people are doing that on their way home because people usually use public transportation in cities or in the suburbs, they're not driving their cars. And that's why they cannot carry everything. And home delivery is still not such a thing. It started to become something and people now ordered more online during the pandemic. But still people like to go back and do the usual thing and look by themselves. They want to try out, they want to hold it, they want to touch it, they want to smell it.

 

Brigitte (guest):

And these are the things that they want to go there, and every day or every other day, and not just once a week. And it's even more so particular in South Korea or in the Japanese market. Japanese homes are even smaller, so also electro locks with their vacuum cleaners, they had to become... They need to reduce the noise of it, the vacuuming noise while you're doing it because they have such little apartments. And also the vacuum cleaners are much smaller. So you have to really adapt your products.

 

Brigitte (guest):

And mostly then also your communication strategies, because you have different behaviors. You put your emphasis on different things because it has to be, the volume has to be reduced. So there are other triggers that you use in your marketing messages in order to get your customer to purchase.

 

Kathy (host):

So far the examples that we've had, and we've talked a lot about the large companies, because obviously, they're very visible, they're in the spotlight, and it's a lot easier to give that as an example. But I want to bring this into the small business arena because you don't have to be a large corporation to expand internationally. But with small businesses that do not have the resources to do all the extensive research or like R&D or the research and development to come up with a product that would be smaller, less noisy, or whatever.

 

Kathy (host):

How can you as a small business, are there any particular things that you should be keeping in mind as you're doing your research to expand into your international arena? How do you manage that? What are some of the things that you should be looking at that would be available to you? And keep in mind, you do not have the budget to do as much extensive research.

 

Brigitte (guest):

Actually, it's the same process. And you just mentioned it, it's a question of financial means. And they just do not have that necessary financial budget to internationalize on such a big scale as corporations or large scale enterprises scale. So a small, medium enterprise, you usually grow by using an incremental strategy, the so-called waterfall approach. Or you can also say a trickle-down approach. So first you enter advanced markets, markets that are really, really similar to your home market. That is the first thing.

 

Brigitte (guest):

You wouldn't choose as a US company to go into Japan or Bangladesh or any African country other than there is a really specific reason to do so. You go into a market that offers the same demand condition, factor conditions. Because you have learned, you have established... You have learned in your own market and established a certain system and processes to grow and to operate. And that's what you are replicating in a new market. You are on this called learning curve and things are getting easier.

 

Brigitte (guest):

The more you are knowledgeable, and then you can take on pace and speed and be faster. And by taking the learning, you can conquer the next step, you conquer the next market and so on, and so on, and so on. You most probably start also again with the culturally, geographically close markets. And then therefore important criteria you need to think out. First of all, measurability, the degree to which the size and the purchasing power can be measured. So what does the market give me in terms of what is out there? And what can I measure? I need to know what I'm going into here.

 

Brigitte (guest):

And then the accessibility. If it's a great market, but you can have access, how can you effectively reach the market and serve the market? Is there infrastructure such a good distribution channel system, media channel system that you can use? Or do you need to establish them? So if it's a similar market as your home market, you must probably find similar distribution systems.

 

Brigitte (guest):

And also the substantial ability or profitability. The degree to which the market or that specific customer segment that you are appealing to. Maybe you have a certain niche that is sufficiently large now that it makes sense and you have the potential to grow in the market. And then the actionability. Actionability means that you have sufficient resources to work the market, to formulate effective marketing programs to make things happen in that market.

 

Brigitte (guest):

So what is out there? How attractive is the market? And then can I work the market? Am I able to? Do I have the strength? Do I have the capabilities, the skills to bring along to be successful in that market? That is really important. And most companies also fail because they have heard from a brand, there is a network. "Ah, we should go there because of this and that." This is nice to know, but still, where are the hard facts that prove, okay, there is potential out there? Do your due diligence. Do your homework.

 

Brigitte (guest):

There's a saying, "Do your homework before you hit the beach?" It has to be. You want to prevent yourself from failing, and that is the best possible way to do that.

 

Kathy (host):

Are there any markets that are easier for a US company, especially a smaller business to grow internationally? I would think that Canada would be one of the good ones, correct?

 

Brigitte (guest):

Yeah. I think Canada is still for the US. First of all, the US market is a huge market. You can really take a lot of market share already there. And if that is a market that you cannot grow anymore because you have reached your limit of market share, then a next thing would be to go into Canada. Canada, maybe then the UK market, that is rather similar markets where you have a certain region, certain contracts, trade agreements. That is something that you can leverage. Where you can really enter in a rather standardized way and you do not need to adapt to the market because every adaption effort costs you money. And especially for a small company, you have to be very specific with spending your money.

 

Kathy (host):

Yeah. You got to know your numbers. You got to look at the numbers before you do any of this. Let's say that you have decided you have a fairly healthy budget and you want to go and grow internationally, but you have to do all this research is, who would you give a call to do this research? Are there marketers that specialize in global brand building out there that they can help? Who would do that type of research for you?

 

Brigitte (guest):

It's a lot of companies indicated services. There is the Chamber of Commerce. I think the first thing you do is to really get in touch with the Chamber of Commerce and they are very, very well organized and they're willing to help out. They provide you with everything that you need in order to get a clear understanding of what are the next steps to go. That and online there a number of different market research companies that can help you with that specific questions and interests. Absolutely.

 

Brigitte (guest):

It's also a question of if you want to hire one, a consultant who does that for you, how much budget you have calculated in that? Other than that, there is so much you can do as a company owner to reach out to all the secondary sources that are out there. The World Bank, … There's the European Intelligence unit. So there is a lot that you can really... Or Economist Intelligence Unit, sorry, that you can look up. There's really a lot of different organizations, institutions that can help you to get a clear picture about the different markets.

 

Kathy (host):

When we were talking about this, it dawned on me that is there possible for a company to customize the product and service to this new market so far that it almost becomes unrecognizable from its original brand? And how do you balance that? How do you try to fit that into the... If you're trying to do the one global brand so that you're still recognizable in other markets, would it make sense to essentially have a different company in a different market that it's not really tied to your company? How does that work?

 

Brigitte (guest):

Okay. There are different questions in one question. Let's start with the first the balance of one brand and trying to cater to the local markets. There is a saying, "Standardize as much as possible and adapt as much as needed." So first, standardize because it provides so-called consistency. I think is a huge, huge, huge term. Consistency in your branding across markets, consistency in how you do business. So your consistency, your one look, one voice across country markets. You want to communicate the brand, be perceived in the same way, the same quality standards, the global myth character that the brand has.

 

Brigitte (guest):

And most probably also nowadays, more than ever before, perceived as a sustainable brand. A lot of companies use that now as a competitive advantage. Especially with high tech and high touch products. High touch is a so-called product that you also do not need to standardize. These are luxury products. So you would never adopt, let's say a Gucci bag, Prada glasses to a specific market because there is this global myth character that is attached with that brand. It has a certain meaning. It stands for the globalized world and the globalized customer.

 

Brigitte (guest):

But there are other product categories you need to localize. You need to adapt to local markets, adapt to local tastes and needs, foods, a consumer packaged product. These need to be adapted. Even though I like to use this example of toilet paper, a Procter & Gamble's Hockley toilet paper. So the texture is adapted because the consumer behavior of how they use toilet paper is different in the US and in the European market. The US are more the crumblers, so it's a little... The texture is not so strong.

 

Brigitte (guest):

But the Europeans are using toilet paper in layers, so there is a different texture density to that product. So that needs to be taken into consideration in order to compete, to stand out, to be unique in the market. So an important piece, you need to be careful to retain elements of a marketing program that are relevant and add value to the brand across all markets. Now, that's what you are, that's your competitive advantage, your differentiation factor. That's what makes you unique, that's what makes you magic as a brand, establish a relationship with the customer, the experience that you offer, et cetera.

 

Brigitte (guest):

And then there are the other factors, something that you need to consider is to find these local adaptations and additions that complement and supplement these global elements to achieve, create the local appeal. Think about McDonald's. McDonald's has its burger, and cheeseburger and normal burger, and so on, but in all the markets they go to, they adapt with complementary products. The chicken tikka burger, whatever burger, or Maharaja burger. In China, the noodles and so on, you will find not somewhere else.

 

Brigitte (guest):

You have your core product but you branch out and you offer products, complementary products that really means something to the locals. That's how you enter another market. And then you mentioned, the other question was that you are customizing so far that it's not recognizable anymore as in their brand. Yes, sometimes that is true and there, I have also a good example about that. For example, you do that when you do not want to devaluate your own flagship brand in another market. That means, and putting in on a different price level and have not that consistency anymore across other markets.

 

Brigitte (guest):

And you might invent a new brand that serves the specific needs of that market. Like Levi's jeans did in China with Denizen. They came up with a new brand, it's called Denizen. And that was the first brand launched outside of the US. And it spread to India, South Korea, Singapore, Pakistan. And in 2011, they also reversed it back to the US market and it was sold at Target stores at the price of a third of the Levi's. So the Levi's is still a flagship brand, but then they came in with the Denizen brand, a so-called simultaneous brand on a lower price point, for more budget-conscious customer.

 

Brigitte (guest):

And here, we have the so-called reverse innovation. That means, while you are making marketing efforts in globalizing into another market, you reversely innovate back to your home market. So as a US company, you can globalize into another market, adapt to another market outside of your whole market. And at the same time, reverse back into your whole market with another brand that you have originally invented in the market outside of your home market. And yeah, that is reverse innovation.

 

Brigitte (guest):

And then there is another reason why a company would use another brand, is when you acquire another brand in another market. And that's what Aldi did, Aldi in Germany. Aldi in Germany bought Hofer, another retail store chain in Austria and Slovenia is where you are coming from, right?

 

Kathy (host):

Yes. Yes.

 

Brigitte (guest):

So it's the only two markets where Aldi is Hofer in the whole world. Because they didn't want to confuse the customers. They love to go to Hofer because the brand means something to them and they didn't want to put that at risk. That's why they kept that specific name and it still resembled in the logo. So the logo, if you see the Aldi logo, and right next to the Hofer logo, there's almost no difference. But there is another name behind it, or there is already a name registered. What happened to Dunkin' Donuts when it expanded into the Spanish market.

 

Brigitte (guest):

So there was already another company that was using donut and registered it. It's I think Panrico was the company that already registered donuts. So they decided the name to Dunkin' Coffee and kept the logo, but a different name. They had to register a different name. And a lot of companies do that in order to be close to the customer, to rename the products like Mr. Clean in the US is Don Limpio for Spanish buyers, Meister Proper in Germany. And Monsieur Propre in French and Belgium. And also Lay's. It's one of the most loved products in the US basically.

 

Brigitte (guest):

And it's hard to find the same name in other countries than/or outside the US. For example, in the UK it's called Walkers, in Australia, Smith's Brand, in the Mexican is Sabritas. So yeah. So you find different names around the world that are actually Lay's or in Israel, it's called Tapuchips. There are different strategies out there that companies follow.

 

Kathy (host):

It's funny, you mentioned Hofer and Aldi, because if you have a chance, go Google it because the logos are almost completely the same, and it's fascinating to see it. But I want to stay with this topic of logos. When you are expanding into different markets, how much thought should you be giving to a logo revamp to be relevant in the local market? How much should it have to be modified? And what should business owners be thinking about when they're modifying this logo?

 

Brigitte (guest):

I think logos are... It's part of your identity. It's materialized, it's something that stands out and that's how you represent yourself as a business, so a logo is really key and is needed. I don't know whether people think about their logo when they invent their company and think about the future when they internationalize if that is a logo that I can use here or there in terms of …

 

Kathy (host):

Usually not.

 

Brigitte (guest):

Usually not. Also, Starbucks did not do that. For example, Starbucks, in its logo there, has its mermaid and in Arabic countries, you cannot show any mermaid on a logo, so they had to change that. And instead of the mermaid, it features a siren's crown floating on the sea. So you almost do not recognize there is no mermaid, so well it is done. But these are the things that you have to take into consideration when you enter other markets, that a logo should be able to be transferable. So if it's not transferred one-on-one, then you have to make the changes accordingly so they are almost not recognizable and adaptable.

 

Brigitte (guest):

And also can be protected in other markets with the relevant jurisdiction. That needs to be taken into consideration. Also, when it comes to colors, brand's color matters because colors also carry different meanings in different local cultures. And they can be associated with superstition, religious beliefs, political learnings, and so on. So you really need to take that into account. Red Bull in China comes in golden cans, not in these silver cans like we have it with stylish dread bulls and black riding. And also advertising campaigns were built to suit the local taste.

 

Brigitte (guest):

And even the product was adjusted to suit these local taste because it's not carbonated. And they use the gold color in China because it's a symbol of wealth and riches in Chinese culture. And then you also have to be careful with numbers. Number four is something you would not use in China because it means death. So there are hotels with no level number four, no room with number four. It's like the number 13 here in Europe and I think also in the US, right?

 

Kathy (host):

Yep.

 

Brigitte (guest):

Or you wouldn't sell anything in a set of four in China, or you would not price anything in fours in China. So these are the things that you should know. Eight is a lucky number, so you go with pricing something in eight. It's really a fantastic topic to talk about. There's a lot.

 

Kathy (host):

Like we said, there's so many layers on it, and that's really fascinating because looking at the marketing and the branding in different countries, it gives you this perspective of how other cultures and other people are different from where you originally are from. And it's... You have to think about that, you're forced to think about when you're trying to grow into different markets.

 

Brigitte (guest):

And we underestimate that because there is so many different meanings attached. We have different associations with names, and yeah, so we have to have an understanding in order to be successful. It's all about people, it's all about how they see you. And that's why you have to be very careful what you are sending out. You're sending out your brand. You are sending out your identity. That's what you have under control, what you are sending out. And then that's what you're sending out has to resonate in the market.

 

Brigitte (guest):

And when it resonates, then you can build an image based on the know-how. Based on you have a certain brand awareness in the market, and then you build up your image through what you are sending out. That's your identity. That's why... We also have to be careful what is an image and what is the identity? So identity is always what a company is sending out, its identity, and the image is the reflection. And the image is then the reputation that you have in the market. So the brand is not the reputation.

 

Brigitte (guest):

So these are two things, but that need to be in sync. They need to be in sync in order to be successful. Because when you know what your customer wants, then you know which image you want to create out there in the market that brings you or gets you to be successful.

 

Kathy (host):

Fascinating, Brigitte. We've talked a lot about how to do it and what not to do. And you give us so many good examples. But if a business, especially a smaller business is trying to do this, trying to take their brand global and internationally, what is the next tangible step that they can take? Something that they can do in the next month or so to get them closer there. What would be that step and what would be that first step that they can do that's really tangible.

 

Brigitte (guest):

I think it's really about the customer. How can your brand be meaningful to your potential customer in that particular market? That's the first question that you need to answer. Think of, does your brand need to be in order to be relevant? What needs to be localized in order to get your customer interested in and purchase your brand. And then most of all, make your brand loyal there. What image do you want to create in your customer's mind, the feelings that you want to evoke? And the experience that the customer wants to have with your brand, that might be a different experience than it is in your home market.

 

Brigitte (guest):

Branding does not come from the company and organization. Sure, your brand identity, but it's built up from a customer's perspective. You need to know what a customer's wants and needs, and how can you best serve your customer in that specific market. You need to be in their heart because a brand has always two sides, a heart, a feeling, emotional side, and the rational side, a head side. So that needs to also be thought about. So what you need to do in... You need to do research. You need to understand the whole market dynamics of the market you want to get into.

 

Brigitte (guest):

And if you're not quite sure which market to get into, then nail it down to three on a shortlist. Do you research, which three markets are the most potential markets that you want to go into it? Look at how attractive they are and look what you can bring, and whether you can work the market, you can have access to that market in a profitable way. Look at it on a macroeconomic level, that's a political versus economic, the customer, the legal factors, environmental factors. Do I miss any? No, I think that's it so far.

 

Brigitte (guest):

And then the industry, what other industry dynamics? Who are the players? How many local players? How strong is national identity in that country’s market? How welcoming are global brands and brands from outside of the market? You need to know yourself. What are you good at? What are your core competencies? What are your strengths? Where do you need to improve? What are the trends out there in the market? What are the challenges, the threats, the risk factors? Know your customer inside out and how you can create meaning in that market. I think that is most important.

 

Brigitte (guest):

And in terms of brand elements and logo and wordings and tag lines, think about, can I transfer? Is there transferability? Can I adapt? And can I protect my brand in that market? When you think about authorized competitive infringement, copyrights, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. I think that's most important.

 

Kathy (host):

So in other words, you really have to do your research.

 

Brigitte (guest):

Yeah. There's no other way around it. Either you do it or have of a company, a syndicated services company that does it for you.

 

Kathy (host):

Thank you, Brigitte. This was super helpful. I love it. Tell us other than helping companies with their global branding and teaching at the university, what else are you working on now?

 

Brigitte (guest):

Since I have been doing that for so long, talking about global brands, and since I have gathered already a lot of experience as a person, life experience, personal experience, setbacks, and getting ups. I am very much focusing now on personal branding. That's one of my... It goes very close to my heart. And I have developed an online course, so I also not only teach at university, but also create online courses for universities, but now also for myself as a company.

 

Brigitte (guest):

I am launching my first personal branding course, which is called, Own Your Brilliance, Make Your Brand Shine. And this is for boxing corporates who dream of being their own boss and want to create a strong, authentic, personal brand but have no idea of how to go about it. And they might already have a side hustle, love that, but are too afraid to meet 100% and they know something is holding them back to going fully into it. And it's going to be a four-week course. It's very high touch, interactive, highly supportive with a small exclusive group size of a maximum of 30 people.

 

Brigitte (guest):

And it's going to be launched 1st of November, and I'm starting my promotional phase right now. And yeah, I'm still looking for people who would like to join that course. So if there is anyone out there who is in executive situation, then you are very welcome to go on my waiting list and just go in touch with me on LinkedIn. And I will send you the link or go on Brigittebrands.com and then you'll see it already, a link to sign up on the waiting list.

 

Kathy (host):

That's awesome, Brigitte. I'm sure it's going to be super successful. You're an expert in branding and I'm sure that personal branding, whoever you help, they're going to propel. And this really helps also the founders and the small business owners as well, because if you have a strong personal brand, your company can do so much better. So I can see it being valuable, not just for those who are having side hustles and who are trying to be in the corporate world. But also the people who have their own companies or founders and small business owners. And I'm super excited for you, Brigitte.

 

Brigitte (guest):

Thank you. It's really for them because it's about unlocking their full potential and building their brand with confidence and clarity. And especially at the beginning, I think a lot of us are frauds with fear and have low confidence, and not the clarity of how to go about it, not having a plan. And I think with support and with people around you who are in the same situation, it's much easier to make the next step.

 

Kathy (host):

Yeah, I agree. Well, Brigitte, this has been absolutely delightful. I love that you came on the show and you gave us all this knowledge, all this wisdom about brands and how to expand into global markets. Thank you so much.

 

Brigitte (guest):

Thank you so much, Kathy. Thank you for having me.

 

Kathy (host):

I hope you enjoy this episode. I certainly have, and it was very much of an eye-opener of an episode for me because there are all these small cultural differences as you're trying to grow internationally that you wouldn't even think about, but they do, do make that difference. And I'm always fascinated with this section of psychology brands and finance and how does actually work together. So I really, really enjoyed this episode with Brigitte. And as a reminder, this episode does come with its own detailed show notes. It actually comes with its own blog. And it comes with all of the resources and with the links that Brigitte mentioned.

 

Kathy (host):

You will find her website, her LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, everything, it's going to be there included in the show notes. And I do have a favor to ask before I go. If you are listening to this on Apple Podcast, if you could please go to the show, tap the number of stars that you think the show deserves, because this really helps other people find it and benefit from it as well. Thanks so much. Until next time.