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Global branding. Sounds like a “beast” to some, but it's the buzzword in e-marketing for the new millennium. Are you ready to tackle it, you wonder? Can you afford to do what it takes to get your brand established worldwide? Let me assure you that you can!

But first, a startling bit of news: Small businesses aren't interested in branding. Period. In fact, most don't even know what it means! Why? Probably because they have more important issues to worry about, like paying their bills and finding new customers. Besides, it costs too much. But doesn't branding help get you customers in the first place? Can it be done on a shoestring? Let's examine these issues and some others that are involved in the making of a global brand.

Get Out Your Compass

Knowing how huge the global market is going to become, we need to first develop a roadmap for bringing clear and focused global attention to your product or service offering right from the start. That's what brings in customers. At the very least, hasn't everyone already recognized that, merely by putting up a web site, you instantaneously enter the global arena? We are talking about reaching close to 6 billion people who surf the Net looking for the world's best products and services. Wouldn't you love to give your company a living presence on the Web? A presence that grows and changes organically along with your business? If you are prepared to adapt constantly to your customer's point of view and provide an integrated experience for them--offline as well as online--you are well on your way to developing a solid global brand.

Ask Yourself Three Questions

The task of developing a global brand begins with the selection of a good corporate name, logo, and marketing message, and the projection of a finely tuned image in all your communications. Start with these three questions: (1) What business are you in? (2) What sets your brand apart from competing brands? (3) What makes it the best in the world? In other words, ask yourself, “What are we all about?” and then move on from there. It boils down to knowing your business.

What's In a Name?

The name you select should look good. Can it readily morph into a work of art? Think Nike and their logo. Does it sound good? Think in terms of exposure via radio or personal recommendations. Try IBM. Lastly, does it translate well into other countries' alphabets and writing systems, such as ‘kanji' in Japan, or into their languages, such as Pepsi Cola, which is considered a lucky name in Chinese, meaning: “hundred happy things.” Famous brands like eBay and Amazon enjoy high levels of customer awareness, and serve as virtual homes-within-the-home for many of us. They attained their huge success by being first at the starting gate and playing important roles in the personal and professional lives of their users.

Small Businesses Get Intimate

To keep things in perspective, remember that even BIG businesses who spend BIG dollars on marketing find it a major challenge to establish and manage viable corporate and brand identities. Your advantage over the big boys is that you are more flexible, you can move faster, and you are more likely to interact with your customers on a more personal level -- all crucial assets in building a powerful global brand. I think that small businesses are so intimate with their customers that they feel they own them! This is a perfect standpoint from which to establish your global brand because you care, earn trust along the way, and are in complete control of what you are doing and who you are doing it with.

Building a Great Global Brand

Here's a six-step process to building a great global brand:

1. Target your message -- define your target customer group precisely.

2. Make each initial customer contact your absolute best.

3. Give your brand a dynamic personality -- people want to have fun while they explore.

4. Create an experience for your customer they won't forget, for oftentimes customers forget the brand but come back for the experience (think Starbucks, big time!). For “experience,” read “adventure” -- something that works to gain and sustain interest. A strong brand can boost stock value as well as sales.

5. Deliver on your promises time and time again. Your customers come to you because you offer them a value that no one else can. Do what you say you are going to do, and more.

6. Be your customer's soul mate -- stay in constant quality contact over the long haul.

Building a living global brand, a powerful but tame “beast” of your own on the Web takes time, commitment, patience, focus, and thoughtful execution. Companies that make the effort will transform their businesses and take a leading place in the world of expanding customer choices.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Laurel Delaney (LaurelDelaney.com) is the founder of GlobeTrade.com and the creator of "Borderbuster," an e-newsletter, and The Global Small Business Blog. She can be reached at ldelaney@globetrade.com.