Own a word, own the world.
By Yeoh Siew Hoon ~ thetransitcafe.com
Wednesday, 29th August 2007
So you want to be a global brand? Here are some tips from John Quelch - Senior Dean of the Harvard Business School who spoke at the Global Business Forum.

1. Own one word

Why did Google become the most valuable brand in the world? Quelch asked. Because it had an ambitious mission – to organise the world's information; search is important; and Google is simply better than its competitors. Plus, the notion that "Google is cool, does no evil" and has an emotional value.

Most importantly, Google owned one word – search. "If you can own an important word globally, it is the best way to create a global brand."

2. Address a global problem

Quelch (pictured right) cites three hot global brands of the moment – Dove, Gore and the B787 Dreamliner.

Dove addressed a global problem with its "Campaign for Real Beauty".

"The media was setting global standards for beauty. Many women don't feel beautiful and many young girls don't feel good about themselves. Dove celebrates beauty in diversity."

Dove's "Campaign for Real Beauty" is not just an advertising campaign, he said, there's a self-esteem fund as well as beauty workshops for girls. "It is engaging consumers in shaping the brand, saying, 'if you take the time to talk, we promise to listen'. It went from functional to becoming a global brand with meaning."

Al Gore, Quelch believes, can become a global brand – Brand Gore. "He is a credible messenger, there is a call to action, he is using multiple media to communicate. Is he the next Branson, the next lifestyle brand?"

The Boeing 787, the first Boeing aircraft to be branded and thus given its own personality, "connects the global village".

"It is a supranational brand – only 10% made in the US, the rest in 30 countries, it has power through scarcity – until July 8, 2007, no one had ever seen it yet 675 orders were placed. There is a power that comes to brands from being unavailable."

3. Define the role of the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer)

Quoting Eric Kim, ex-CMO of Samsung, Quelch said, "The best CMO strives to make the CEO the CMO."

"The CMO should be a low key, humble person who works throughout the organisation and get everyone to understand how important marketing is. Often the CMO makes the mistake of challenging the CEO – that's the best way to get fired."

4. Anticipate "accidents"

Global brands are vulnerable to both the preventable and the unexpected. The saga of Starbucks in Forbidden City (in which it was forced to close down after local protests) was a culturally-sensitive incident that should have been prevented. On the other hand, Hilton did not bargain for the antics of Paris Hilton.

"Global brands require reputation risk management. The stronger the brand, the greater the risks."

5. Think local, act local

The goal is to penetrate markets beyond "global" customers. At a time of anti-globalisation sentiments, it is important for global brands to acquire local brands, sign local agreements and work with local partners in developing local expertise.

"Be good local citizens," said Quelch.

Globalisation, he noted, had changed the marketing debate. "We are asking, what are the similarities rather than the differences?"

Today, though, the global brand battlefield remains mostly all-American. Of the top 10 – Google, General Electric, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, China Mobile, Marlboro, Walmart, Citi, IBM and Toyota – eight are American. And of the top 100, 50 are American.

"This will change though in the next 10-20 years as Asian brands rise to stronger prominence," said Quelch.

• John Quelch's photo courtesy of Global Brand Forum

Yeoh Siew Hoon, one of Asia's most respected travel editors and commentators, writes a regular column on news, trends and issues in the hospitality industry for 4Hoteliers.com.

Siew Hoon, who has covered the tourism industry in Asia/Pacific for the past 20 years, runs SHY Ventures Pte Ltd. Her other writings can be found at www.thetransitcafe.com . Get your weekly cuppa of news, gossip, humour and opinion at the cafe for travel insiders.
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