Branding and International Positioning

(573)

The globe seems to be shrinking, with even small businesses branching into new markets in new countries. However, many find that they don’t achieve the success they were seeking. A large part of this problem is due to a lack of understanding of the interplay between international positioning and branding.

If you currently have a small business in the USA, there is a good chance that you already have basics like a logo design, brand, and position. However, what many business owners don’t recognize is that, while a logo design and brand remain fairly stable even through expansions, a company’s positioning may have to be modified in order to find success in a new market. Luckily, this can be done through a few simple steps:

1. Identify your market. This basically includes information about your potential customers.

2. Identify what makes your product or products unique in the market. What problem will they solve for your target customer? Do they have a unique or unusual benefit?

3. Examine how these interact with your brand. If your position and your brand don’t ‘go together’ well, you will need to return to the drawing board. Obviously you don’t want to diminish the power of your brand while trying to expand it.

4. Present these unique aspects to people in your market. Their feedback will help you modify your positioning until it perfectly fits your target customers’ needs.

When you were first starting your business, you likely did the first two steps intuitively and completed the third by asking friends and family. Unfortunately this will not be as simple when dealing with a new market. When dealing with a new area or a nation outside the USA, this process becomes much more difficult because you don’t automatically understand the way your new customer base operates. Your challenge is to identify how your products and services are going to help them and then position your product as a solution to a problem. In this situation, it is essential to get feedback from people who understand the way the unique local culture operates.

One important thing to remember is that your position is separate from your brand. While your brand should remain relatively unchanging, your position can and should vary from market to market. This is due to a difference in values and perceived needs from place to place. However, your position in different markets certainly should be congruent with your brand and your logo design.

Much of this seems intuitive when you are dealing with your own area. However, even if you are running a business in Cleveland or elsewhere in the USA, this exercise can be extremely beneficial because it helps you to understand your position in your own market.

Many people misunderstand the difference between a brand and a position, but they are actually quite easy to tell apart. If your brand is a noun, your position is a verb. However, there is one key thing that branding and positioning have in common: they both serve to differentiate your business from the many others out there and help you build a strong future.