Branding for success in our global world!

branding, global world

Everything and everyone is a product. A country, city, company, product, service and a person. And how the market perceives the product determines its value. It’s sounds cynic, I know. But if you want to be valued and sought for on the market you have to on a continuous basis make sure your brand is in demand and sells.

Does Chanel have a higher turnover in the developing world than in the West? Most likely. But since it's a priave company the information is not available.
Does Chanel have a higher turnover in the developing world than in the West? Most likely. But since it’s a private company the information is not available.

Innovating and updating your brand

When a product is a success all of a sudden the brand matures, growth slows and it comes under pressure from competitors. Europe and the US at the moment are good examples. Now is the time to start innovating and spending again if we want to defend our market position. If not, don’t complain if we lose out to competitors.

Nothing ever stays the same – not even Cornflakes

You may object that some brands, like Cornflakes, or Chanel for that matter, have been around for a long time. But what we buy today is very different from the same product 50 years ago, not least when it comes to packaging and design. If your brand is out of date you will have to make an investment and innovate yourself.  How you want to be perceived depends on what market you are aiming for.

The West needs to get their attraction back

When it comes to countries and continents, Europe and the US have matured and competitors are moving in. But the West seem to take their current status for granted and are not doing enough to defend their market position. What happened to innovation and making their markets more attractive to investors, not to mention more business friendly?

The West is losing out

The market is irrevocably global. That does not mean the concept represent the best of worlds. But the West will continue to lose relative power as a result. It’s ironic isn’t it that thanks to its generosity in exporting the secrets of success, China and other emerging giants are catching up.

Developing nations are not going to cede power to the US and Europe out of gratefulness. So the West needs to face up to reality –  their brand is losing out. It’s time to innovate and make it profitable for businesses again to stop them moving to other parts of the world. If not, the West will gradually trade places with the developing world. 

Pictures:  Anne Worner  Panoramas /

55 thoughts on “Branding for success in our global world!

  1. Catarina — Clay Christensen, the Harvard economist, coined the term Disruptive Innovation which refers to an "innovation that creates a new market and value network and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network, displacing established market leading firms, products and alliances." That's what developed western countries need to continually do to retain their leadership role in the world.

  2. America's image is going steadily downhill with Trump as president. His election points to so much that is wrong with my country's brand. One good thing about the health care bill the Republicans are trying to pass is more of the public in the US is waking up to how it benefits the 400 richest people in the land. For shame.

  3. Updating your brand would seem to be essential. As you stated other countries are moving into different markets. You must constantly adjust, even your branding, jus to stay competitive. If your company, or business, does not adjust, modify its brand, someone else will.

  4. Can definitely agree that branding and of course, re-branding is critical to success. It is important to keep up with changes in ther market demands to remain relevant.

  5. Interesting post Catarina. I don't know a lot about European economics so can't comment on that. However, re-branding to remain current is an obvious necessity whether in business or in government. It is also difficult since we often have the mindset 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'. Too often we wait till it's broke.

    1. Neoliberalism is economics developed by Milton Friedman at the University of Chicago i.e. it's an American phenomena. The bottom line is to take from the poor and give to the rich. That's been going on worldwide since the 70s. Thankfully Europe and Canada has not gone as far at the US. But not only Americans are losing faith in politicians and vote for the likes of Trump. It's coming to Canada and the US as well. That's why the US, Canada and Europe need re-branding.

  6. One must remain current in order to keep their customers. Madonna and Beyonce are good examples of celebrities who regularly rebrand themselves.

  7. I'm not sure when you first published this post, but it's more relevant than ever. In English we have a saying, "You snooze. You loose." That is clearly true for enterprises large and small, including nations and continents, as you point out. In the US, the traditional political parties are not appealing to young voters. Business as usual isn't going to cut it.

    1. Until governments worldwide, including in your country, stop implementing neoliberal policies people will have more and more contempt for politicians. Taking from the poor and give to the rich is wrong and the majority of people in the world disapprove of such policies.

  8. What a great post, I particularly like the part about innovating and updating your brand. A business, a person, must always adjust and improve. If you stand on your past laurels, that is where you are, standing in one spot. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  9. The U.S. Auto makers had to almost completely fail before they realized they needed to find out what their target market really wanted and then begin to invest in new innovations. Any brand has to keep up with the times and reinvent themselves or they will cease to exist. It needs constant reevaluation.

  10. Good post. Too many organizations try to grow their business by acquisition or by cost-cutting. Innovating and staying vibrant is a much more meaningful strategy if you are looking beyond the short-term. I wish more organizations followed the advise you’ve included here.

  11. I was just reading an article the other day about how these older retail brands are having to reinvent themselves to become relevant to millennials. I never thought of entire countries having to go through a similar transition, but this totally makes sense. We now have competition from so many other countries and if we don’t fight to be relevant, we won’t be.

    1. Glad you agree, Erica. Silicon Valley has now replaced Wall Street as a magnet for people wanting to make a fortune. Catch is investment and innovation from Silicon Valley don't create many jobs and increase wellfare but make a few people wealthy. Western countries need to get an image across that investors and companies from all over the world would benefit from investing, starting subsidiaries and plants in our countries. If not, affluence is steadily moving to the developing world.

  12. Hm, I never thought of “The West” as a brand, but I can see your point. I think it’s easy to become complacent and not realize until it’s too late that other countries are taking over our market share.

    1. Yes, the West has become complacent, Meredith. By the way I am so used to promoting and branding countries all over the world to me it is natural to devide them into the West and the developing world.

  13. Your posts are always 'on point' Catarina. Branding plays a huge part in sales. Madonna and David Beckham are excellent examples of brands. Their name sells. As business owners we need to be several steps away from our customers and constantly identifying their wants and needs. This could change during the course of time.

  14. Once again I’m totally out of my realm here and I apology beforehand if my comment seems superfluous. But it seems that the US is one of leaders for innovative branding. Am I completely off base?

    1. Pity the US is not able to develop an innovative brand for itself that attracts investment, jobs and prosperity isn't it.:-) Instead investors look at opportunities in developing countries.

  15. I completely agree that the West has been resting on it laurels for a bit too long. I have no idea what it will take to wake them up… there's a bit of arrogance, which is the hardest thing to pierce.

  16. Catarina, I think you are right on about the US taking their status for granted. I don’t know as much about Europe’s position but I do follow what is happening in Canada and the US and I see China taking over in many areas. The US has an amazing amount of business talent that is obviously not being listened to or else they aren’t speaking up…..I would think probably the first. Hopefully their next leadership will be more in tune with what’s happening in the business arena and start making moves to reclaim their earlier position.

    1. Silicon Valley is doing well. In fact the area of opportunity in the US has moved from Wall Street to there, Lenie. But companies generated there are not going to create jobs in the US. The West needs to show investors and companies world-wide what they have to gain from starting a subsidiary or plant in our part of the world. As it is investors are only interested in multinationals on the stock exchange. And that doesn't create any jobs or prosperity in the West.

  17. Branding is a topic that is top of my mind right now as I recently went thru the branding process with a designer who created a new logo and banner for my blog and social media sites. It's been quite the process, and really makes you step back and reflect on the message you are attempting to convey.
    My recent post new features on the site

    1. You definitely are on the right track when it comes to branding, Doreen. Your new site makes a huge difference. Personally believe the main thing is what's unique about us and who will be interested. That makes it much easier to constantly improveour brand.

  18. While I was reading here, I was thinking of Coke. I remember when they tried to change a product, create a new brand with a new formula. It failed. They got back up QUICKLY and went back to their original formula then tweaked their logo, and boosted their image. In the USA we are failing mainly because of poor leadership. Look at all the scandals we have now. Maybe that does or doesn't matter in Europe but it matters with so many of us here who consider and call ourselves patriots. I suppose there are scandals in every country. But when you live in the country with a swirl of them, that erodes trust and confidence, just how can the USA defend itself? I have my own ideas about that. But for now let's just get back to Coke and say, when your brand is failing, act QUICKLY to save or restore it.

  19. Catarina — I actually think the U.S. is quite aware of its eroding brand. One cause is China. When China makes it their top priority to infiltrate and steal our government files and corporations' intellectual capital that gives them a sure advantage at innovation. This has been going on for years. Our national security system has been compromised. China steals intellectual capital and won't subscribe to any international treaties forbidding that. They don't invent anything themselves. They steal it and then innovate around it with companies they control. It is no longer a level playing field.
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    1. Jeannette I agree with you that not only the US but Europe are aware of their eroding brand. But what are they doing about it? Young people in Europe are more interested in going to China than to the United States. Don't you think the US should work on their brand as a country, no matter what China is doing? Maybe even more? Have worked a lot with branding countries. It's up to all countries in the world to let the world know what they have to offer. Look at Sweden, they haven't updated the brand. The result is that only older people who remember ABBA and Olof Palme have a favourable opinion.

      1. Catarina — the problem is that the U.S. is a mulit-cultural complex "institution." There are so many disparate parts of government that it would be difficult to develop a single cohesive brand. Of course, the President is the one person who can shape our brand globally but he's too busy fighting with our do-nothing Congress to shove his agenda through.
        My recent post Should Booz Allen Use Social Media in Managing its Crisis?

        1. Jeannette, almost all countries in the world are multi-cultural and hence complex. Above all Northern Europa and North America. But the same applies even to some developing countries. Personally think the main problem when it comes to Western countries is that they take their position in the world for granted. So instead of showing what they have to offer they frequently resort to bashing developing countries, at the moment notably China.

  20. It looks like there are much better informed commenters on this subject than I am so I will leave it at that. Always enjoy reading your work Catarina. 🙂
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  21. This is absolutely the case. A good example of that is the US auto makers. It took them almost going out of business before they got their Mojo back. They are now starting to pull market share from Kia, Isuzu, Hundai as a result of their investing in new innovations and listening the their audience. A brand any brand cannot stand still or they will cease to exist.
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    1. Glad you agree with me Susan. But what's even more important is to improve the brand of the West as a whole. It's going down and that's when you have to make an effort to show the positive aspects.

      Read today that Sweden's brand is mainly appreciated by older people because of ABBA and Olof Palme. Know from personal experience how positive people are to Sweden all around the world. But despite that Sweden has not managed to capitalize on the goodwill towards our country. So it's time to show what's positive aspects of Sweden today and make investors, no matter how old, take an interest.

  22. Dear Catarina, your article is very interesting and quite "brave" like all the rest of your work that I have read.. I am a Georgian researcher and it is an interesting coincidence, because we are just about to start working on branding of our capital city – Tbilisi.. It would be very interesting to know little more about your thoughts (or may be discussion) regarding image of Georgia, as a developing country.. its current image and future prospectives..Thanks..

  23. Hello Catarina,

    I read your article. It is well written. You have a nice way of putting across your ideas. Your idea of brands and innovation is very nice and a good read.

    You are right Brands need to innovate and are always fighting each other out in terms of consumer dollars or I guess in your case the Swedish Krona (SEK).

    But I think where you are a little confused is about the IT and outsourcing part weather to India or China or South American countries or any of the far east Asian countries.

    If you are aware The "US" is still the number one country in product development in the world. All work that is outsourced in terms of application development or testing is what they call 'NON CORE DEVELOPMENT' work. The actual product ideas and innovativeness is not usually outsourced to a vendor.

    So in your terms about Brands – the "US" is still brand number one in terms of IT Product development – which in IT is the greatest thing and the best thing. Not a services company. This is also applicable to all IT Enabled Services – for example Call Centers.

    I am sure this is applicable to Sweden to a great extent.

    Maybe in terms of consumer brands Sweden may have done bad. But the 'US' still rules the world in certain market space. For example Nike. But the US needs to innovate automobile, where Japan rules in lower to mid economic range.

    The concept of Wal-Mart too originated from them. So if you see even if they have not innovated on their current brands to be number one in the world. They still rule the world for a lot of innovation that takes place.

    It is like you saying Saudi Arabia which is almost number one for oil is loosing its market space and its strong hold – because they have found great amount of oil and have set up big offshore rigs in and near Philippines.

    So Catarina your article for the consumer brand part is a good read but for IT outsourcing needs – it is off the track.

    Otherwise as usual it is always nice to read your post.

  24. They also need to be very careful of which image they project, and ensure it's one they can back up both now and in the future ('updating' a brand can be very, very fraught). For example, New Zealand's international image is a one of 'ceal, green etc', and it's something on which our tourism and meat sales are heavily dependent. Recently, it's begun to be called into question…

  25. I agree with you about branding cities and countries. It's hard to do because overt branding efforts on behalf of governments tend to appear ham-handed (with the one enduring example of I Love New York). It has to be an almost organic blending of people, products, and policies that give a particular place "hot."

    I differ with you on outsourcing. It certainly is a reality but I think we need to balance the microeconomic needs of specific firms to control costs and a macroeconomic policy that seeks as much high wage employment as possible. In the U.S. it has been all micro and we have a downward spiral: Consumers need/want low prices so production is outsourced to low cost countries. Consumers lose jobs and then need even lower prices. So even lower cost producers are sought. It's a race to the bottom. I don't know about Sweden in particular but Europe seems to have stronger macroeconomic policies that help balance things.

    1. Outsourcing is a difficult issue, isn't it? A huge problem in Northern Europe are the trade unions. It's impossible to pay the kind of wages they think are correct when companies can get the same job done much cheaper and, quite often, better abroad. And and I can not imagine trade unions changing. In fact they can't because then their raison d'etre cease to exist.I believe that long term the workforce will become much more global and move to wherever there is work. May sound odd now, but one day that will be normaland people will laugh about how once upon a time people spent their whole life in one country. From: notifications@intensedebatemail.comTo: catarina.alexon@live.seSubject: Catarina's World – New comment requires moderation on: Branding for success!

  26. …(continued)

    Although India has had some early success in its outsourcing drive, it is apparently losing ground again in this area as countries on-shore again due to a combination of increased unemployment and consequent lower labour rates at home, together with some quality issues with the outsourcing. Companies found that cheaper was not always better and India needs to focus on the quality of its delivery, not just the price.

    The lesson for all countries is that branding needs to take full account of all the 4Ps of marketing – price, promotion, place and packaging – in order to be successful.

    Developing countries need to create strong brands and the developed ones need to update their brands as a matter of urgency.

  27. I agree – branding, like everything in [a] business, needs to be constantly re-evaluated in the light of current market conditions and updated. It's an integral part of any living business, and let's face it, countries today are just mega-businesses…

    Among the Scandinavian countries, Finland has done the best job of updating its image – largely thanks to Nokia – from one of reindeers and Santa Claus to a connected, modern society with a strong innovation drive. Japan was an excellent example of a country that successfully moved its image from a low-quality copier of products (they even named a city Usa so they could put “Made in USA” on products in the 50s!), to a country renowned for quality and for technology in many areas. Unfortunately, it failed to continue to update its brand and has fallen behind in recent years, with Korea taking an ever-larger place in the public mind. China is, today, viewed in much the same light as Japan was 50 years ago, so it will be interesting to see how effectively it can move its brand up the value chain.


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