Great brands transcend geography. But to build a great global brand, you must understand the vital role that your company's electronic "face" plays in your success, says Marilynn Mobley, Senior Vice President of Edelman, the world's largest PR firm, as well as a blogger.
"People all over the globe turn first to the Internet to learn more about brands and companies. Your Web site should be as helpful, insightful and appealing to someone in Asia as it is to someone in Arizona. Scrub your promotional material and Web copy to ensure that it isn't too locally focused."
Mobley adds that a strong brand must be backed by more than an international Web site. She warns that a business can't talk its way out of something that it behaved its way into. In other words, a strong, positive brand must be supported by matching positive behavior. And don't assume that throwing more money into PR and advertising will resolve challenging issues with your brand, she says.
Fix the fundamental problems first. Then use PR and advertising to bring awareness to how .... and why .... things are better.
"Your best brand ambassadors are right under your nose. Enlist your employees and other stakeholders, such as business partners and alliance relationships to take your messages global," Mobley advises. "Don't release information or key messages externally until you are certain your own employees can tell your story as well as your PR firm. Increasingly, Web logs, or blogs, are playing an important role in improving brand visibility and loyalty. Encourage employees to share their enthusiasm about your brand in their own words through blogs and message boards. Research shows that 'people like me' are seen as more credible than even the CEO of a company."
Lesson Learned: "Taking a brand global isn't a matter of doing what you have always done on a larger scale. Public relations strategies that work in the United States won't always work in other countries. Seek the advice and counsel of PR experts who have experience and relationships with the media in the marketplaces you are entering.
"Missteps early on can be hard to overcome. You aren't just entering a new marketplace; you are integrating into a new community. And each community has its own personality and loyalties."