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When brands expand beyond their home markets, they are tempted to repeat their tried and tested formula in the new market as well. Brands in the current globalized world signify more than just products with recognizable logos.
One of the biggest implications of globalization for companies seeking to expand to foreign shores is the task of balancing standardization with customization. From a branding perspective, this issue assumes even more significance. When some of the world's biggest brands expand beyond their home markets, they are tempted to repeat their tried and tested formula in the new market as well. In fact this has been the path followed by many brands. The assumption in such a case is that customers would be too eager to consume the great brand because of its authenticity, heritage and associations.

Brands as channels of self expression

Brands in the current globalized world signify more than just products with recognizable logos. Brands have transcended the commodity trap and have seeped into peoples' lives in many aspects. Brands have come to signify avenues through which people tend to express their personalities, attitudes, likes and dislikes, association to groups/ communities and so on. As such, brands succeed if they offer customers opportunities to express. Being global brands with entrenched identities and personalities and still be able to adapt to local demands is a Herculean task. The following steps would facilitate brands to make a smoother transition:

Understand the local market: Companies would do themselves a huge favor if they do not generalize the markets based on some superficial parameter. Each market has its own subtleties, unique characteristics and customer preferences. Many of these unique characteristics are deeply inspired by the cultural underpinnings of the society. To understand these underlying parameters would allow companies to effectively target the customers.

Finer segmentation for faster adaptation: Markets by nature are known for their multiple segments. Segmentation though a very basic exercise in marketing, is indeed one of the fundamental tools that can equip a company to effectively channel its resources. With emerging economies integrating into the global market, the diversity is bound to multiply. This not only offers companies a huge increase in potential customers but also an opportunity to segment finer and leverage the market situation. Based on the product category, the product line, the brand strategy and the availability of channels, companies must decide on the segment that they wish to target.

Channels – A strategic brand component: In many markets, reaching the customer at the right place at the right time differentiates success from failure. In China and India, channel management is the key to success. Many global brands that are used to huge supermarket chains such as Wal-Mart, Sears, K-Mart and others tend to think in similar terms in foreign and developing markets as well. In many Asian markets unorganized retail still dominates. In such scenarios, global brands would succeed if they recognize the criticality of building strong channels and adapting their model to ground realities in the market they are present.

Bottom of the pyramid customers: In spite of the growing economy and increasing spending power, emerging markets and still developing countries are characterized by a sizeable bottom of the pyramid segment. This segment mainly consists of customers who are gradually aspiring to integrate into the main stream. They are low on resources but high on aspirations and ambitions. This segment also shows the promise of being a very lucrative segment in the long run. But majority of this segment are not ready to pay high prices. Customers always look for a proper quality-price balance. Customers in this segment seek products that offer considerably good quality at an affordable price. This poses new challenges for global brands that are used to offering customers either a highly priced high quality products or low priced goods with an average quality. Further, with many local brands in many countries already offering products with quality comparable to global brands but with half or even one third the price, the success of global brands depends on their ability to adapt to the local conditions and respond to the local demands.

Global brands' local act: Developing countries are finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel. Countries especially in Asia are in a boom phase. The economies are booming, global trade has increased, technical and knowledge outsourcing has given birth to millions of jobs, disposable income is on the rise and governments have taken the lead to integrate many such countries with the global economy. These factors have led to the emergence of customers who no longer look to the West to build an identity. These customers are confident and satisfied with many local brands. Though these customers do like and purchase many global brands, they also have a strong preference for many local brands that have managed to provide high quality products with a distinct local feel. This once again compels the established global brands to balance the global identities with local subtleties. This balance will allow global brands to be successful. These guidelines will facilitate a smoother transition for global brands into localizing part of their experience to suit the local subtleties in order to attract and retain the local customer. Further, these guidelines will also offer global companies reason to think about the possible challenges that a complete lack of localization will bring to the fore. Unilever and Nokia, two global giants have also proved the point discussed in this article by glocalizing and winning in their game.

Unilever is a classic example of a global brand which has pioneered serving the locals with products that address the local sensitivities. Unilever's Indian subsidiary Hindustan Level Limited (HLL) has been the leader in recognizing the tremendous opportunity lying at the bottom of the pyramid. The customer base that aspires to consume products but in smaller quantities and at lesser prices. HLL literally invented the shampoo sachets – small plastic packets of shampoo for as less as INR 1 (USD0.022). This became such a rage among the rural consumers that many other brands started offering products such as detergent, coffee and tea powder, coconut oil and tooth paste in sachets. Even though the unit price was higher, rural consumers were able to afford to purchase the smaller quantity at their convenience.

Another example is of the leading mobile brand Nokia. Nokia also recognized the growing importance of rural customers in the Indian mobile telephone market which grew from a mere 300,000 subscribers in 1996 to a whopping 55 million subscribers in 2004. Nokia introduced its dust-resistant keypad, anti-slip grip and an inbuilt flash light. These features, albeit small, appealed to a specific target of truck drivers initially and then to a broader segment of rural consumers. These features endeared Nokia to the Indian consumer as Nokia displayed a genuine commitment in responding to local customer needs.

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branding strategy
Hospitality News Magazine talks to Brandcell Partner-Senior Consultant, Carole Ayoub.
Branding is a simple concept but complicated strategy to attain successfully. Branding is the emotional connection customers make with the certain brand or product. This emotional relationship adds value to the brand through the brand story, personality and values, as well as provides a competitive advantage over other products in the same industry.

For a franchise to be successful the branding strategy must be well established and implemented. Successful franchises are ones that own a brand the public can relate to, trust and love. If a franchise is a success it can reflect positively on the company as a whole, whereas if even a single franchise within the company is less than satisfactory it can have a major negative effect on the company.

The aim of brand franchising is to have customers across the globe be able to walk into a certain franchise expecting the same experience, look, feel and philosophy as they would in any other franchise of that company worldwide.

In few words a "Franchised Brand" is a successful brand that is expanding geographically.  In order to ensure a successful expansion branding guidance is essential.

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A great brand name is one of the most powerful forces in branding, marketing and advertising. A brand name that wields that much power can only come through a powerful positioning strategy. Communicating brand strategy is key to a great brand name.The most critical aspect of naming a brand is not the name, but the strategic positioning behind it. Great brand names are easy-to-understand, pronounce and translate across languages.
Brand Name Development: What makes a winning brand name?

A name that requires no introduction, no explanation and very little advertising to give it clout.

A great brand name is one of the most powerful forces in branding, marketing and advertising. It is at once the story about what makes you different from your competitors and the emotional tug that connects you with your audience—all in one or a few words.

A brand name that wields that much power can only come through a powerful positioning strategy—one that keys in on the kind of appeal that can touch the hearts and minds of your market in a way the world may have never seen. A great brand name can do this and own the talk of an industry. As you can see, there's quite bit in a brand name.

Brand names have so much riding on them—way too much to leave to already overworked brains of a few employees, tossing around ideas at lunch or entering a contest, as many companies like to approach naming. Those people simply don't have enough time to take into account the many things that must be considered when developing a brand name, such as: comprehension, memorability, ease of pronunciation, negative and positive associations, competitors, trademarks and domain name possibilities. These are just a few reasons smart companies that need a brand name turn to naming professionals, like Brand Identity Guru Inc., for guidance.

Communicating brand strategy is key to a great brand name.

Words project both meaning and feeling. Your brand name should communicate in a way that fits your overall brand strategy, whether that's straightforward functionality (PowerBook) or more emotional (Carnival Cruise lines and their "FunShips"). If it does, every time somebody mentions the name, it's an advertisement—one you didn't have to pay for.

Great brand names roll off the tongue.  

The sound of the spoken name, regardless of what it means, is a big consideration for brand names. An easy-to-understand pronunciation translates across languages and is more likely to be remembered.

Like the last puzzle piece, a good brand name fits right in.

Most established companies (not start-ups) have a set roster of corporate nomenclature for products, processes and services. Any good brand name is going to build on that "naming culture." Not to do so would squander an opportunity to bring even more value and strength to that "culture" and the overall brand.

A great brand name is the ambassador of your company.

It introduces and characterizes a company to its customers and to the public at large. It also helps differentiate a company's offerings from the competition's. As a registered trademark, a great brand name will make these kinds of impressions an official part of a company with actual value on a balance sheet.

How to pinpoint a good brand naming firm.

The most mission-critical aspect of naming a company, product or brand is not the name itself. It is the strategic positioning behind that name. Any professional brand naming company worth its salt knows this and practices it.

A good naming firm can tug heartstrings with their work.

A company name is, in essence, a promise—a testament to what a customer can expect from the product or service behind the name. Isn't the point of any promise to establish a connection of trust and loyalty from one entity to another? A great brand name can do just that.

Listening for quality and quality.

There are two kinds of qualities a great brand name must have. It must be both strategically sound and linguistically appealing in all the right ways. In other words, the market must gravitate to how the name said and what it says.  

Creativity is not just important…it's a necessity.

Creativity, unfortunately, gives way to practicality and feasibility. Consider this: over 260,000 trademark applications were filed in the United States in 2003 and over 98 percent of the dictionary is registered as a "dot com." What does that tell you? That all the obvious names are taken, and that it's going to take some real creative muscle to come up with something no one else has thought of.

A great naming firm should challenge a client.

What the target market thinks of a name is way more important than the opinion of any marketing, branding, advertising or naming guru (even us). That's why good naming firms utilize cutting-edge research methodologies that give the market the final say on a name choice. We've developed such research called the Brand-Aid?. The Brand-Aid? is dedicated to developing proper positioning in the marketplace.

No naming project is ever identical. There's no set formula to arrive at a winner. The only thing you can really control is the kind of work you do to come up with a name. If you do the right kind of work, you'll likely come up that one special word or phrase. Brand Identity Guru Inc. knows what "the right kind of work" is and has the skills necessary to follow through on that work. Hence, our motto, "Pump Up Your Brand."

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Intangible and Abstract, Lebanon has yet to grasp the true value of a Brand.
A  company has a brand whether they want it or not" is a popular adage for explaining the importance of branding as a discipline. And, according  to a recent survey conducted by the Strategic Branding firm Brandcell  entitled 'The State of Brand Management in Lebanon', it is one that may  need to be more explicitly communicated to Lebanese businesses, organizations and institutions.

Origin via Executive Magazine
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Marketing, is all about waging war against competitive forces to win market share. For this purpose, marketers create warriors which win the perceptual battle for them, and these warriors are called BRANDS.
Brands have proved their worth and thus marketing programs are built around their brands.  Marketers are exploring new ways of supporting their brand. One such method is called Brand Activation. Brand activation can be defined as marketing process of bringing a brand to life through creating brand experience.

Generally, the core features or brand values of a brand are used for activation. That's what every brand manager strives to achieve i.e. communicating their brand values to their target customers.  Benefits of brand activation include the ability to convey and strengthen your positioning, support your ad claims, increase brand salience, revitalize the brand, and elicit customer insights as people interact with the brand.

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branding strategy
To position (or reposition) a company’s brand in line with its target market, this is how branding can be summed up, a marketing technique which relies on two main elements to develop a brand: the identity (the logo and visual image in particular) and reputation (the values that the brand embodies).

By Joe Ayoub

Independent agency  Brandcell was launched in 2008 to fill this role in Lebanon. The agency has already advised a dozen of clients on their brand strategy. For Joe Ayoub, CEO  of Brandcell, the discrepancy between the brand promise and the consumer  experience is one of the reasons that can explain the success or failure of a  product. "Lebanese businesses still need to be clear about the values that they  convey to their employees as they do their clients." For branding rests as much  on the internal organization of a business – the motivation of employees to champion  the company for which they work – as it does on the coherence of the message that  it sends out to consumers. Joe Ayoub explains: "Imagine you launch a product.  If your employees are not happy in the company, if they think, for example, their  salary level doesn't match their skills or they have never been consulted in  the decisions of the company, what interest would they have in championing this  product to your future clients? 

Brandcell has developed the branding strategy of Mobision, part of the  Communication Entertainment Technologies (CET) Group. Mobision introduced a  system of digital broadcasting, via satellite, for reception on mobile phones,  in Iraq. In the first place, Brandcell helped the business to define its  message. In this case, a service that helps Iraqis to survive since mobile  phones are often the only way for them to stay connected to the world. The  agency also developed the sales manual for the call centre team, around 20  employees, based in Lebanon and composed of Iraqis and Lebanese. "We explained  to them the image of the business and what is at stake so they could integrate  it and champion it." In addition Brandcell conducts regular audits to adjust  the brand image of a business in line with client expectations and market  realities. Branding is not limited to a line of products. It is also useful  when a company undergoes major events such as a merger or a relocation… "You  have to involve the employees: ask their opinion and inform them. One bad  experience and they can become apathetic. In the end they are the first  ambassadors of the brand."

This marketing technique plays an important role when a crisis has to be  managed. "Take EgyptAir and Air France, two airlines which have had air disasters.  The brand image of EgyptAir has never fully recovered from the explosion of its  aircraft off Sharm el Sheikh. That of Air France has emerged relatively unscathed  from the explosion of the AF447 off Brazil: its stock of trust, the values that  underpin its name, contribute to help it to overcome the crisis."

To take a more active role in the education of Lebanese businesses,  Brandcell has chosen to help Lebanese start-ups to put together their brand  identity. "The key remains to adapt oneself to clients." Among Brandcell's  clients: Magrabi Retail, a regional group specialized in wholesale and retail  of sunglasses and spectacles, and the Etisalat telecommunications company in  Sudan.

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How do you build your corporate reputation? Typical marketing activities certainly play a role, as does the overall strength and quality of the services that you deliver.
By Burton Goldfield

Branding your small company  isn't a matter of harnessing a million dollar advertising budget.  Rather, it's a matter of corporate reputation, in which every positive  action that the company makes establishes trust, credibility and  support among its customers. Those customers talk to their friends, and  those potential customers talk to their friends--all of a  sudden--word-of-mouth has created your company's brand.

Conversely, if your corporate reputation gains momentum on reviews of  bad product or poor customer service, you also get a brand--it's just  not the one you want.

So how do you build your corporate reputation? Typical marketing  activities certainly play a role, as does the overall strength and  quality of the services that you deliver. But you also have another  indispensable asset: your own employees. Building a corporate  reputation and powerful brand identification in the marketplace begins  right at home.

You  might take it for granted each of your employees understands your value  proposition. The sales person, the engineer and the front desk person  all play an important role in the company's operations therefore they  understand the value of its services. Or do they? If you really ask  each of them to give the company's "elevator pitch," how similar are  their responses?  If their responses are substantially different that  means that their messages to a prospect or a customer will probably  also be different.

Does your team know what differentiates your company from competitors?  Do they understand your vision for the future?

This is a crucial challenge; take for example the case of my own  company. We recently completed an acquisition of a larger competitor  and we're striving to integrate the two populations in terms of both  organizational structure and culture. I know that the job won't be done  until all employees in the combined company can recite the same  mission, vision and value statement, and be able to describe what the  company does in the same way.

Having everyone aligned in terms of your company's message is crucial  for building the framework of a solid brand. Your employees interact  with customers, talk to their family about work and spread the word  among their personal and professional networks. Each and every one of  your employees is a brand ambassador.

Feed and Nurture Your Intranet

One of the ways you can ensure that your employees are in sync is to  maintain a robust, frequently published and widely used intranet.  Important company messages benefit from significant repetition. Having  an intranet can be a relatively cost-effective way to keep the  company's message out there and ensure that all employees are working  towards the same goals.

The intranet shouldn't be rigidly controlled. You will want to create  and promulgate consistent brand standards, and give the site an  inviting, readable feel. But people won't read the thing unless they  have a stake in it.

Consider the ownership employees will feel in the intranet if they have  the ability to publish their own branded newsletters, communicate with  other departments and contribute to the front page "news" of the  company. The intranet will become a destination for them--the first  thing they read in the morning--that also means that the intranet will  be a trusted source of information.

Show the Human Side

While revenue may be a welcome side effect of an internal referral  competition, it also represents an excellent opportunity to humanize  the company for your staff. A lot of companies' value propositions  sound like arcane business concepts that have no actual impact on real  human beings. The reality is completely opposite.  The chances are,  your company is one that helps people and businesses succeed--and by  extension, the people and families who work with them. You should be  constantly communicating that message to your employees.

Otherwise, they your team may view the referral process and brand  reputation as a chore.  The more clarity they have in regards to how  they help the business and consumer community, the more likely they are  to become brighter brand beacons. The best brands and referrals are  real and heartfelt.

Reap the Rewards

Building  an internal brand is important because you have, by default, designated  each and every one of your employees to be bearers of your company's  brand. Their actions and perception of your company will directly  impact your corporate reputation and brand image.

A positive brand identity leads to loyal customers, strong referral  sources and strong internal growth. Bottom line: Take care of your  employees and they in turn will take care of your brand.
Burton M. Goldfield currently serves as president and chief executive officer of an HR outsourcing company. In this role, Goldfield is responsible for  setting TriNet's overall corporate strategy and directing business  operations; he also provides strategic guidance in regards to TriNet's  human capital offerings.

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How do you define your brand? Is it how you position yourself in the minds of stakeholders and the public in general? Is it shaped by what people think you do and how you do it? It is determined by the design of your website?
by Tracy Lloyd and Bella Banbury

Brand and reputation

The concepts of "Brand and Reputation" are often seen as one in the same. However, when viewed separately, significant opportunities arise to improve both.

The road to successful branding has never been more complex or challenging. What started, as a one-way lane going directly from the manufacturer's door is now an ever-expanding , two-way, multi-lane superhighway with intersections, tollbooths and rest stops.

During this evolution, the meaning of the word 'brand' has become very broad. It has come to mean everything from a trademark to what amounts to being an all-encompassing and nearly religious experience. Today consumers,consultants,  retailers, wholesalers, direct dellers, CEOs, CFOs and CMOs use the word to mean different things depending on their perspectives on, orientation to,and knowledge of,the branding discipline.

For many, there is no distinct line between the meaning of a 'brand' and its 'reputation'. However, by intentionally creating a line between the two - at a point where one can presume one ends and the other begins - one starts to see clearly and obviously how a 'brand' drives its 'reputation'. At the same time one also sees how the unique mechanics of reputation building, viewed in isolation, hold clues as to how that "cause and effect" works and shows the steps one can take to enhance its power.

The Keys lies in why-and, more importantly, how- things get remembered.

A useful dividing line

Before exploring the mechanics of reputation building, it is important to define a point at which it can be said 'brand' ends and 'reputation' starts. Perhaps the simplest and most useful division between the two is based on control. The business behind a brand invests tremendous amounts of capital and human energy to create products or services, distribution methods, pricing and promotion; these are important variables over which they normally have great degrees of control.

However, the same business loses control once their efforts enter both the public and individual domains. It is at this point when- beyond the control of the business- everything the business - everything the does with its brand is interpreted by individuals, social groups and the media. This process of interpretation puts the brand into the broader context of social and individual life (answering questions such as "what's in it for me?" "is it cool?", how will I feel owning it" etc.) It is this personally mutated interpretation, which is then internalized. Quite simply, individuals retain memories that are something different than what the business has communicated through its branding efforts. They remember what remains when the brand has been put through the personal and social filters of values, beliefs, needs, customs, morality and so on.

Put simply, a 'brand' is what a business does, and a 'reputation' is what people remember.

What- and how- do people remember?

A helpful way to understand what and how people remember things is to answer this question:" Name a person or brand that has made you very angry." The first thing to notice are the feelings that come up immediately - there's a pureness to the emotions. Next consciousness will conjure up an image of the errant person or brand and the damaging situation. Slowly, the story will take shape as more and more details flood the conscious mind. If asked about the feelings that have emerged, it is likely the conscious mind will take over and provide rationalizations and justifications for the anger in the compelling language of a defense attorney.

The point of this vivid illustration is to focus attention on the 'anchor point' of the memory: core emotions. In this case, we've dealt with strong negative emotions: anger and resentment. However, by turning the story around and asking. " Name a person or brand that has made you feel really secure" one can see by that positive memories start and work in the same way. The memory in this case would initiate warm and secure feelings at the start, from which would flow the story, it's details and then the subsequent presentation of rationalization and justification for the emotions.
The dominant role of emotions in the way people remember - and therefore how reputations are built - is summed up in the quote from the poet Maya Angelou, " I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." But, as seen in the above examples, one doesn't necessarily totally forget what's been said or done. These 'rational facts' are stored alongside strong and significant memories. Indeed, the biggest fans of individuals or brands will always be prepared to give 'testimony' through fact-laden, highly detailed and passionately presented stories.

It is debatable whether people remember every interaction experience they have in the course of a day, a week or a lifetime. But clearly, particularly in today's media intensive environment, people have learned to relegate banal experiences to the deep, dark recess of the mind (e.g. this morning's trip to the ATM) while giving priority - and "top-of - mind awareness' - to experiences they have found significant and meaningful. Just as a brand helps us quickly buy our preferred coffee (without having to look at, evaluate and consider all the options on offer), people have found ways to navigate the world based on their emotional preferences and needs. They seek out, and respond to, emotional connections that give added meaning to their otherwise crowded and demanding lives.

It is important to acknowledge that this thinking does not always lead to a 'happy,happy,happy' relationship between brands and the people vital to their success. In some cases this may be emotional nature of the relationship (e.g. they may also make price deals) and the engineering firm isn't only about the rational (e.g. they may choose to bond with their customers through a thought leadership program).

The learning form this is that the more relevant, significant and meaningful a brand's emotional anchor will be (as well as the deeper the well of kept story-telling facts and information). Hence, businesses that work to ensure that their branding efforts have strong emotionally anchored content will build stronger, more resilient and more powerful reputations for their brands.

Emotional anchors carve out a manageable 'emotional space'

Many businesses have been successful over time without paying particular attention to the emotional nature of their reputations. If things were going well, it was assumed the business had a "good" reputation. But today, with the changing ways in which businesses compete, consumers consume and technology evolves it is clearly time for businesses to make the shift from simply having a 'good' reputation to prospering over time through a 'meaningful reputation'.

A reputation is meaningful when it is built upon particularly significant, relevant and emotionally meaningful interactions. The continuing accumulation of interactions over time helps support, reinforce and expand the reputation.

The task therefore is to populate the business's interactions with specific emotional anchors, which seen together can be said to comprise the brand's 'emotional space'. There is a pool of some 300 positive emotions from which businesses can choose the three or four, which they can use to define the emotional space their brand seeks to occupy. The different emotional anchors selected typically reflect different dimensions of the relationship between the brand and the people vital to its success. After all, few meaningful relationships are based upon a single emotion. Emotional anchors may link to different aspects of the purchase experience; for example, how it feels to buy the product or service, how it feels to deal with the company after the sale, how it feels to own the product or service and, perhaps, how it feels to let others know the product service has been acquired.

Blended with the brand's unique characteristics, the emotional space creates a highly differentiated and emotionally captivating story for the brand.

Creating more meaningful interactions

Whether a business seeks to create, shift or improve their reputation, the starting point is to access all the ways the business interacts with the people vital to its success, from customers to prospects to partners to suppliers to employees present and future. Then it is matter of choosing those interaction opportunities that have the greatest possibility to embrace people emotionally.

Every interaction is composed a four variables, each of which the business can reshape in light of its emotional space.

1.Aesthetics- essentially, the 'look and feel' of the interaction. Design is the most powerful tool to establish emotional space (based on 3 or 4 chosen emotional anchors). From first impressions to the on-going role of maintaining the brand's emotional integrity, design is a critical factor in the success of building and creating a meaningful reputation.

2.Discourse - this is both the dialog and the tone of voice. Content creates the rational story; tone of voice adds an important emotional dimension.

3.Functionality- this is the way the interaction literally works. For example, based on a desired emotional space definition, a business may choose to streamline, simplify or eliminate process steps to generate greater emotional bonding.

4.Associations-these can be either metaphorical (e.g. linked to a lifestyle) or literal (e.g. linked to a another brand or social cause) with the aim of underscoring the brand's emotional space.

A practical way forward is to 1 ( define the brand's desired emotional space;2) choose the business's most emotionally potent interactions and 3) inject the desired emotional space into those interactions by considering how aesthetics, discourse, functionality and associations can be fine-turned to spark specific emotional responses.

Over time, a truly competitive business will spread this thinking to virtually all its customer,partner, supplier, and employee interactions. This will help create a seamless emotionally led reputation. Indeed, the most advanced businesses will strive to create new modes of interaction based solely on the brand's desired emotional space. In this sense, the emotional space becomes an integral part of the business's mission.

In short, a brand's chosen emotional space defines how the business would like each person vital to their success to feel with they think of, encounter and talk about their brand.

By seeing 'brand' and 'reputation' as separate entities, a business can take important steps to improve both. The mechanics of reputation- the emotional anchors and their vital role in memory - show how a business can set emotional goals for its brand and the steps it can take to achieve them.

This approach to 'reputation-based branding' leads to more meaningful between a brand and the people vital to its success. The greater meaning conveyed through each emotionally-led interaction leads to more profoundly positive memories which, in turn, results in a stronger, more resilient and more enduring reputation. And as will all successful brand-building efforts, businesses realize tangible returns on investment:

- A compelling competitive edge, powered by emotion as uniquely manifest with the brand
- Powerful differentiation; lifts brands from 'good enough' to 'must have'
- Increased sales because of greater awareness and increased desire
- Brand inoculation - stronger brand affinity counters negative events
Those searching for ways to prevail in today's dynamic marketplace would do well to seize the power of reputation-based branding.
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Businesses, and more recently individuals, have always been accustomed to bankruptcy as a last resort. But in today's economic environment, bankruptcy is no longer a dirty word.
By Barry Silverstein.

It's easy to blame a brand bankruptcy on the economy, but it may be more complicated than that. "The brutality of this economy is not only exposing toxic assets, but poorly differentiated brands," says John Gerzema, author of the best-selling book The Brand Bubble. "Many had a common inability to build strong brand differentiation and lead the consumer forward. Deficits that became that much more apparent in times like these" ("Bankrupt Brands,", Jan. 20, 2009).

Gerzema''s point is well taken. In his book, Gerzema addresses the changing role of the consumer when it comes to assessing brands. He says consumers "are increasingly acting like investors. They have heightened expectations for brands to continuously surprise, adapt, and evolve." Brands that go bankrupt, Gerzema says, "aren't evolving, or aren't different enough to begin with."

The most telling public proof of Gerzema's hypothesis is probably the recent stunning bankruptcy of General Motors. With the GM bankruptcy came the demise of several of its storied automobile brands. Even prior to the bankruptcy, GM had stopped making Oldsmobile, a brand that, despite its long history, had become, well, old. The bankruptcy itself, however, killed off Pontiac, a brand many car aficionados would agree was very much a part of GM's prior success. Pontiac was the "muscle car" to Chevy's "all-American car." The Pontiac brand spawned songs like "Little GTO" and became an iconic symbol of the macho male. Ultimately, though, Pontiac was a brand stuck in the muddy past, unable to compete in a new, more nimble marketplace.

Bill Sowerby, a retired GM manager, says of Pontiac: "It didn't have a focus. Back in the '70s and '80s, the brand had its heyday. It had a kind of gold chains, bell-bottoms and leisure suits image of its era. But then it began to lose its brand equity" ("Pontiac Closing Stirs Muscle Car Memories," The Washington Times, April 28, 2009). Maybe the GM bankruptcy had a positive if sobering effect: beginning to cull out some of the brands that could not be relevant to contemporary car buyers.

While the Pontiac brand will be gone by the end of 2009, other GM brands may live to see another day. Saturn, for example, was once viewed as the brand that was symbolic of a new direction for GM. When it was first introduced, Saturn's association with GM was even downplayed. Now it too has been jettisoned by the company. But apparently Saturn will survive, because the Penske Automotive Group, the second largest dealership in the US, has agreed to purchase the brand and its 350 dealerships. In fact, Penske is in talks to "broaden Saturn's lineup,"according to ("Official: Penske Automotive agrees to buy Saturn," June 5, 2009).

What is happening to Saturn is not all that unusual. Lately, it seems, just as many bankrupt brands are revived in a different life form as enter the brand graveyard. The reason: that elusive quality called brand equity. The longer a brand name exists, and the wider its exposure, the more powerful and lasting its awareness. The brand name, bankrupt or not, has built value that counts for something. Even a brand that goes bust may have the potential for a second life.

Polaroid is a classic case of a brand that failed, yet its brand equity seems too strong for the brand to die. In its day, Polaroid was a strong, well-differentiated brand inextricably connected with "instant photography." But that unique position eventually led to its downfall, as photography evolved into a digital medium. While Polaroid attempted to reinvent itself, its association with instant photography-now archaic - couldn't be overcome. The Polaroid Corporation went bankrupt once, sold the brand, and then the company that bought the brand went bankrupt (albeit for different reasons).

John Gerzema says on that Polaroid "once was simply 'magic"" but now it is "perceived as 35 percent less up-to-date and 23 percent less visionary than Canon." Gerzema analyzed data from the BrandAsset Valuator, a massive brand database, to arrive at this conclusion.

Bankrupt brand or not, the brand name "Polaroid" lives on. As recently as 2009, a digital camera with a built-in printer called the Polaroid PoGo was introduced. In April 2009, the Polaroid brand was purchased by a company that intends to license the name globally.

Licensing, in fact, is one of the up - and-coming ways to extend the life of a bankrupt brand. (See the Brandchannel commentary on brand licensing.) Gerzema says, "...many troubled brands still possess enormous value. The key is to reshape a business model around the brand's strongest points of differentiation, or invent new ways of being different." Gerzema cites Sharper Image as a bankrupt brand that is "reemerging through a licensing business model.

Sharper Image, along with bankrupt brand names Linens 'n Things and Bombay, has been purchased by a partnership of two liquidators, Hilco in Toronto and Gordon Brothers in Boston, for about US$ 175 million ("Brand Names Live After Stores Close," The New York Times, April 14, 2009). The Sharper Image name is already on new merchandise that appears in Macy"s, JCPenney and Bed Bath & Beyond. Linens 'n Things is selling through a website. Bombay is expected to become a line of furniture.

The payback? Jamie Salter, chief executive of Hilco, "predicted a billion dollars a year in sales for Sharper Image and Linens 'n Things in each of the next five years," according to The New York Times.

Other brands that have appeared to have gone out of business are still very much in business. Retailers CompUSA and Circuit City, for example, were liquidated, but the assets of both were purchased, and they still operate under their original names via online stores. The website points out that keeping the Circuit City brand alive online makes good business sense: " was quickly relaunched last week to capitalize on the remaining brand strength and traffic to the website...That traffic is cheaper than AdWords, will pay for itself in less than a year, and since they are a corporation the Google rankings and traffic will stick" ("What Does $14 Million Worth of Page Range Look Like?", June 11, 2009).

In times past, a bankrupt brand might have been abandoned. But today, bankrupt brands represent a new business opportunity for companies to acquire a well-known name for below-market value and revive it. With the expense of launching a new brand, it may in fact be cheaper to keep a bankrupt brand going, as long as it can remain viable, fresh and current.

It could be that negative associations with bankruptcies are lessening, simply because there are so many of them. Oddly enough, bankrupt brands could end up being beneficiaries of a weakened economy. After all, if a brand name lives on despite adversity, it may be regarded by consumers as a beacon in the storm.

It could be that negative associations with bankruptcies are lessening, simply because there are so many of them. Oddly enough, bankrupt brands could end up being beneficiaries of a weakened economy. After all, if a brand name lives on despite adversity, it may be regarded by consumers as a beacon in the storm.

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Franchise Brands: More than a Logo In franchising, it's not just the corporate logo that needs to be carefully guarded, although that's important. It's the logo plus everything else - corporate colors, signage, buildings, trucks, uniforms, products, services, prices, promotions, ads, window posters, and even mundane stuff like pens, wrappers, and every collateral item in existence.
By Barry Silverstein

SUBWAY restaurants, named the #1 Global Franchise Opportunity for 2009 by Entrepreneur magazine, has more than 30,500 locations in 87 countries. Imagine what it's like to control every aspect of the SUBWAY brand in every franchise location around the globe.

If it sounds like a major headache-inducing challenge-well, it is."Multi-unit franchises may face a variety of difficulties along the way toward building brand consistency," says Gary Findley, CEO of the Findley Group, in Franchising World ("Consistency: The Key to Branding," April 2007). "Balancing brand uniformity while respecting franchisee independence and regulating brand messages while effectively targeting local communities are two of the struggles that often arise."

Findley believes the only way to control the brand is through RQM-  repetitive quality marketing. "In RQM, repetitive is remaining persistent and consistent with the marketing message," Findley says. "In RQM, the overall objective is to remain consistent. Consistency in the marketing campaign will not only strengthen the brand identity, but it often leads to positive business growth."

In the franchise world, however, marketing consistency takes on a whole new meaning. " touches everything a business does," Findley says, "from the design on the bathroom tiles to the rips in the salesperson's jeans, and anything a customer sees, touches, hears or smells can affect the brand image."

For large and small franchise operations alike, educating franchisees about the value of the brand is often the first and most important step. Taylor Bond, CEO and president of Children's Orchard, a US-based children's clothing resale franchise, explains it this way in Franchising World ("Communicating the Brand," February 2005): "...we have aggressively focused on communicating the 'picture of value.' That means we have done everything humanly possible to help our franchise owners understand that the brand is the market share. We explain that the brand is a mental message, a picture that consumers connect to their store." Bond says smaller franchisors should point to the success of large global brands to get their franchisees "to understand and embrace the value of the brand." It's crucial, he says, to "tie the brand directly to the value of the business."

In large, sophisticated franchise operations, the franchisor maintains control of the brand through numerous means, including franchisee training programs, comprehensive brand guidelines, and providing franchisees with consistently executed branding and marketing materials.

Providing brand guidelines is not that difficult, but enforcing them across a far-flung franchise system is another story. "While many franchise systems provide their franchisees with guidelines about logo usage, signage and advertising, many fail to fully enforce those guidelines," says Nikki Sells, vice president of franchising for Express Personnel Services, in Franchising World ("Consistent Brand Identification Increases Market Share," December 2006).

"This is why a customer can go from one unit to the next and have a completely different experience with the brand. Enforcing clear guidelines will not only help franchises stay true to the brand when marketing, it will also improve customers' experiences." Sells says it may take site visits, customer surveys and focus groups with field reps to determine adherence to brand standards.

That's why superior global franchisors such as SUBWAY and McDonald's make franchisees part of the solution. McDonald's requires its restaurants to spend a minimum of 4 percent of gross sales annually for promoting and advertising the business. Owner/operators work with local agencies to place advertisements and, in some cases, produce their own creative material, as long as it follows system guidelines. McDonald's also encourages its operators to offer feedback and ideas that could benefit the entire system; the Big Mac, Egg McMuffin and Filet-o-Fish sandwiches were all developed by owner/operators.

International branding is particularly difficult. Language and cultural issues present unique challenges for franchises. For food franchise systems, local cuisine preferences may require entire menus to vary. McDonald's, for example, operates in India but does not serve beef there. Instead, the Indian system offers a choice of vegetarian and non-vegetarian menus; the non-vegetarian menu is comprised of chicken and fish. Product names retain the McDonald's branding concept but are country-specific: McVeggie, McAloo Tikki, Shahi Paneer McCurry Pan and Veg Pizza McPuff.


Challenges not withstanding, globalization is a means of rapid brand expansion. US-based Yum! Brands, owner of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell restaurants, has enjoyed widespread acceptance for its franchise brands around the world. The KFC business in France has the highest unit volumes of any KFC in the world. For the last four years, Pizza Hut has been ranked as the #1 most trusted food-service brand in India in a consumer survey in The Economic Times.

Mainland China is Yum! Brands' top market for new company restaurant development worldwide. The company opened 471 new restaurants last year in mainland China. KFC, with more than 2,300 restaurants in China, is the leading quick-service restaurant brand, while Pizza Hut, with 400 locations, is the leading casual dining brand in mainland China. Yum! Brands says it opens a new KFC every day in mainland China. In 2007, operating profits for Yum! Brands' China Division were more than US$ 375 million.

When a franchise system decides to change its brand, the implications are mind-boggling. In 2001, global shipping giant UPS acquired Mail Boxes Etc., a private postal center service. In 2003, "The UPS Store" brand was introduced. Tests in select US markets pitting The UPS Store against Mail Boxes Etc. showed a strong preference for The UPS Store. That meant thousands of US-based Mail Boxes Etc. stores had to be rebranded. Stores in Canada were rebranded in 2005. Stores outside North America, however, maintain the Mail Boxes Etc. brand. UPS currently operates over 6,000 stores worldwide.


Despite the arduous requirements of global branding, the business opportunity associated with a strong international franchise is unparalleled. Controlling their brands across thousands of locations is a key reason leading franchise systems succeed - and why their brands are among the most recognized in the world. 

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