Elevating Beyond National Image: 3 Key Insights for Brand Managers

The key to success is consistent communication, blending product-focused marketing with corporate messaging to share its vision and nurture fan communities.

Seoul, South Korea

Every nation has a deep history and complex relationships with its neighbors, often requiring cooperation despite past conflicts. In today’s globalized world, these connections expand across the globe, demanding collaboration and competition with numerous nations beyond our immediate neighbors.

Moreover, we inhabit an interconnected ecosystem where powerful nations’ political dynamics and policy shifts significantly impact individual countries, companies, and people.

At Allison, our teams frequently collaborate across markets to support clients’ regional business objectives. I strongly believe in the vital interconnectedness of our regional partnerships. They enable us to offer well-informed counsel to our clients, empowering their narratives to resonate globally and transcend borders and boundaries.


 

In 2024, nearly 50% of the world will vote in national elections, with outcomes influencing brand activities and revenue. Brands must rethink their identity to thrive in a competitive global landscape, avoiding stereotypes and aiming for global appeal.

Case Study: South Korea

South Korea faces a delicate balancing act with its big neighbors, China and Japan. Sometimes, public sentiment can shift, leading to “No Japan” or “Anti-China” movements. Interestingly, this sentiment even influences beer sales! During tense times, brands from these countries can see a sudden spike in demand.

For example, Tsingtao beer from China might become more popular during a “No Japan” campaign, while Asahi beer from Japan might benefit during an “Anti-China” period.

But it’s essential to understand these ups and downs don’t tell the whole story. Despite occasional tensions, Japan remains the top tourist destination for Korean tourists, and China remains Korea’s biggest trading partner.


 

Three Strategies to Achieve Worldwide Brand Recognition

Connect Brand’s Vision First

Simply selling products alone isn’t enough. Brands that truly resonate with consumers go beyond transactions by offering a clear and compelling vision. Take Xiaomi, a Chinese tech company. Its vision, “Make friends with users and be the coolest company in the users’ hearts,” goes beyond just selling gadgets.

Through its “Just for fans” strategy, Xiaomi has successfully challenged the stereotype of Chinese brands offering cheap products. It has positioned itself as an honest, innovative and customer-centric company—not just another “Chinese brand.” This approach has helped it build a loyal global fan base, even in the face of political tensions between China and other countries.

“Simply selling products alone isn’t enough. Brands that truly resonate with consumers go beyond transactions by offering a clear and compelling vision.”

The key to its success is consistent communication, blending product-focused marketing with corporate messaging to share its vision and nurture its fan communities.

Cultivate Genuine Partnerships

Demonstrating genuine commitment to local communities and respecting their cultures are essential for foreign companies aiming to build trust and loyalty in new markets. As they step into these markets, they’re immediately judged by the media and public: will they be allies investing in mutual growth, or merely profit-driven merchants? Perceived as the latter, they risk facing boycotts and other challenges.

U.S.-based Corning has successfully cultivated a “friend” image in South Korea over its 50-year history through collaboration with local companies and ongoing social responsibility initiatives. This was evident at its recent 50th anniversary, where Samsung Electronics recognized it as a valuable partner in community development. Its strong relationship even played a part in Samsung’s Galaxy Unpack 2024 event.

“Demonstrating genuine commitment to local communities and respecting their cultures are essential for foreign companies aiming to build trust and loyalty in new markets.”

AliExpress, a direct delivery platform, made its debut in South Korea in March 2023 and quickly became the most downloaded app in the second half of the year. However, this rapid growth raised concerns among competitors and the government.

AliExpress proactively tackled these challenges, reinforcing its image as a “friend” by actively engaging with and addressing local needs. It has transcended its reputation as merely a platform for “cheap products,” positioning itself as a lifestyle app that promotes the convenience of direct delivery. Users now explore the app, not driven by immediate need, but for the sheer enjoyment of browsing.

Maintain a Consistent Brand Identity

Maintaining a strong brand identity that remains consistent across diverse markets is essential for gaining global recognition. Take Alcantara, an Italian luxury material brand that consistently highlights its “Made in Italy” heritage and commitment to sustainable manufacturing. This emphasis helps the brand uphold its premium status and stand out from competitors.

Similarly, Budweiser, an iconic American beer, has consistently collaborated with music artists in Korea over the years, solidifying itself as the most artistic beer brand in the country.

Brands may face regional biases simply due to their national origin. However, by implementing these three key strategies, brands can establish strong connections with consumers worldwide, transcending national stereotypes and limitations. Ultimately, these approaches enable brands to cultivate a global fan base and achieve sustained success in the long run.

 

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