In an interconnected world where boundaries between cultures and countries erode with each Tweet and international AirBnB traveler, brands are faced with a tension: how can you create a brand that appeals to people globally while preserving the flavor of each local community? In our MIT Global Branding Study Tour, we set out to visit some of the world’s most successful global brands to learn about how each has been able to craft an identity simultaneously unique and universal.
From Old Town in Stockholm, Sweden to the mountaintops of Orense, Spain, we visited companies that were in the early stages of global growth as well as those who have already established global recognition, in industries from technology to luxury fashion. The branding challenges that both growing and mature brands face reveal fascinating trends that demonstrate the often-elusive capability of finding, understanding, and evolving with dynamic customer segments in a world of ever-changing technology. What all of these brands had in common was their mastery of connecting emotionally with their core customers by communicating the brand essence through a carefully created combination of service, product, marketing, and browsing experience.
Data-Driven Brand Development
In visiting Spotify, Nickelodeon, Zara, and Carolina Herrera, the role of data in defining the entire brand experience, from messaging to product to service was essential, and part of the core competency that has made these companies exceptionally successful in their global expansion. From quantitative analytics to qualitative observations, these brands had mastered the integration and interpretation of data to be able to take action on a day-to-day basis in a way that made a direct impact on the bottom line of their business to fuel global growth.
A clear example of brand evolution includes Spotify, which started in Sweden and has had to adjust both its product user experience and marketing based on insights from data to sustain growth globally.
Brands Grown From The Soul
On the flip side, Acne and Dominio Do Bibei have successfully become well-loved, high-growth brands by neglecting the traditional creation of brand identity that usually finds its genesis in research. Instead, these brands have been founder and mission-driven, with originality unique to each founder’s passion, yielding consequently niche products that magnetically attract diehard fans.
Acne Jeans began as a fashion, technology, and art collective, driven to define the avant-garde. Since then, it has developed unique and highly successful luxury fashion collections that have propelled the brand into global recognition. The essence of the brand, artistic, futuristic, and luxurious, is imbued in every aspect of the company, from the CEO to its retail stores. With growth, Acne has to learn how to maintain the uniqueness of the brand while creating enough definition to be globally recognizable.
Seeing the headquarters of these brands firsthand and meeting many of the founders and leaders of these companies has demonstrated the importance of managing the tensions between focusing on core brand values and dynamically evolving to create and sustain global growth.
More in-depth articles about Zara, Spotify, Carolina Herrera, and Acne Jeans to come!