By Nadine Choufani
Familiarity is ironic when it comes to branding. As a brand strategist working in an industry in which we are continuously encouraged to think outside the box, familiarity repeatedly leads me to expanding the box. As a consumer, I recently saw the impact of global branding when planning a trip. Think about it, when was the last time you traveled and looked for a hotel chain that you’ve heard of or were a guest at on a previous trip? Or even before booking your hotel, did you check to see whether your preferred airline flew to that destination? Then on your flight, did you slather your bread roll with the cheese on your tray, or did you disregard it because it’s not the brand you like (or maybe you just don’t like plane food)? From a consumer perspective, our choices when it comes to products and services are linked to our brand preferences, and our search for familiar brands outside our area of residence is congruent with global branding.
Global branding is when a brand upholds the same values around the world, while simultaneously embracing global values. Global brands create relationships with consumers across countries and cultures, and is a strategic move that is increasing in importance. From a marketing perspective, it is an integral part to raising brand awareness, encouraging brand loyalty, contributing to brand image and increasing brand equity. Now that’s a lot of branding. But it’s what makes a brand survive and is essential for growth. Global brands possess a competitive advantage that is difficult for local brands to match.
And with breadth come expectations. Consumers tend to believe that global brands usually offer a higher quality of products and services since they have a greater amount of resources and are constantly getting upgraded. This contributes to the global myth that local brands reflect what we are and global brands reflect what we want to be. Advertisers and marketers have leveraged this myth, tying global brands to a value or goal that people aspire toward, positioning the brand in a global consumer culture. Hence, with global positioning comes familiarity, taking us back to our starting point.
As a new member to the KHJ team, I was delegated the responsibility to launch this new blog. For me to be able to keep it relevant, I had to breakdown not only the industries that KHJ competes in, but also the overall purpose of KHJ as a brand activation agency and how it fits into the world of branding. It got me thinking about how brand strategists, marketers and advertisers always need to think outside the box to create something new, something unfamiliar and appealing so as to attract consumers. Yet there’s another box, the brand itself, that continuously needs to be expanded and maintain its familiarity. To achieve this, the first box is usually placed in the second box to create the oxymoron of unfamiliar familiarity. With time, familiarity takes precedence, and that is precisely what global branding is.