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Expanding overseas to new markets can be one of the most crucial decisions a business makes. Often, expanding internationally is what can make or break a business. International expansion consists of more than simply setting up shop in a new country. The expansion process must be purposeful and must be prepared for, otherwise the business will see more money being drained through this new exploration than made. The following is a collection of observations and tips regarding challenges in global marketing and expansion.

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Brand is bond in the world of business. The first thing we think of when someone mentions a company name is not their most recent financial statements or their internal initiatives to cut costs or boost R&D. The first thought is of the brand that company has built. Take for example, Nike. When someone mentions Nike, by and large it conjures images of cutting edge athletic wear and oozes cool. It is clear that brand is crucial to a company’s success, and while scores of other factors go into success with international business, one of the key components is building a global brand. You don’t want, however, to automatically assume that one broad brand for the entire world will be the perfect strategy for your particular company. Instead, in most cases it makes much more sense to approach different markets in varying ways.

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The city of Detroit, Michigan was once looked at as one of the strongest cities in the United States, but due to the decline of the automobile industry and financial problems it has become a bankrupt city with a large struggle. However, the resilience and pride that its inhabitants still portray is incredible. In this day and age where a lot of the manufacturing takes place in Asia, people still want to own products made in their own country. For example, Americans take great pride in driving a car or owning an appliance that is “Made in America”. What better way is there than to use a loyal population and hopeful city to brand a product? “Made in Detroit” is a phrase that could help the city of Detroit bounce back, while boosting sales for a company.

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The small Caribbean nation of Grenada lies around one hundred twenty-five miles north of Venezuela, between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It has always had an economy built off of its island paradise lifestyle with its beautiful blue water, beaches, and landscape. This style of economy for such a small nation can only carry it so far, but Grenada now has other plans to help it make an international presence.

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Just as products and companies have brand images associated with them, countries also have built perceptions in the minds of people around the world. A country’s “brand name” can be based on a variety of rankings and its overall perception in the minds of businesses definitely has an impact on its success. If a country’s brand perception is favorable, that can translate into foreign investments alongside commercial and economic development. Businesses are also more likely to conduct operations in a country with a positive brand image. To help us identify the top country brands in today’s globalized economy, FutureBrand has released the Country Brand Index. The results are very interesting and the country at the top of the list might just surprise you.

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In 1983, Professor Theodore "Ted" Levitt of Harvard's Business School announced that globalization had arrived, and before long global companies would be selling products and services in similar ways all over the world. In spite of Levitt's prediction, only a limited amount of truly global brands exist in today's business world, although markets are undeniably in an age of economic globalization. The reason behind this stems from the immense amount of forces that provide challenges to brands wishing to branch into global markets, of which a select number of firms have overcome.

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As businesses continue to expand internationally, it is becoming more important than ever for these companies to adapt their strategies to different cultures in foreign markets.  Companies must extensively analyze the target market and determine whether or not their product or service can be successful in that market.  Often times, cultural differences require changes to be made to a company’s sales and marketing approach and sometimes even the product itself.

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The food and beverage industry covers an assortment of products and companies within.  It happens to include one of the largest commodity markets, coffee.  With its distinctive socio-cultural ties, coffee has been produced, branded, and marketed uniquely in every part of the world.  With any product, various factors must be taken into consideration when developing a brand: consumption patterns, cultural relevance, product expectation, and marketplace competition to name a few.  Branding essentially tries to build an emotional kinship with the consumer that transcends the products actual function.  Brands aspire to create an identity, a lifestyle to live by.

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In a more connected and globalized world, brand recognition across many markets and countries has become extremely important for international business. When a company’s goods or services are not only well-known but popular in many countries all around the world, you know that particular company is doing something right. Global branding is a major aspect of marketing in today’s business environment and is constantly changing as the world moves forward. Not only is global branding evolving, it is changing the way businesses market their products across the globe. This week the globalEDGE blog team will take a deeper look at global branding and its impact on international business operations.

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With many companies spending years building a brand and strong image among its customers, few would imagine this task can completed in a relatively short period of time. However, this is exactly what’s possible with social media. In the past years, businesses have increased their use of social media platforms to market products, build a dominant brand image, and interact with their customers. It has come to a point where businesses around the world are focusing less on endorsing their products in advertisements and more on promoting their Facebook page or Twitter account. Now the question is: How does the expanding social presence of companies impact business performance worldwide?

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Globalization is becoming increasingly important for businesses all over the world. Not only is it important to expand into new markets, but it is important to localize enough to be accepted while still keeping your brand consistent worldwide. Corporations are beginning to see how difficult this balancing act can be. Expanding into new countries can lead to enormous profits, but it comes at a much higher risk.

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Universum, an employer branding company, released today the world’s Top 50 most attractive employers. From the world’s leading economies, nearly 130,000 students at top academic institutions chose their ideal companies to work for. This is a global index of employer attractiveness that highlights powerful global brands. These companies excel in talent attraction and retention. Students from Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, Spain, U.K., and U.S. all contributed their employee preferences.

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The World Cup, currently taking place in South Africa, is well underway. Tomorrow in this blog series, we'll discuss the prevalence of large sponsorship deals that many businesses have with FIFA, the international governing body of football. FIFA takes its role of protecting World Cup sponsors very seriously, and the warnings it has issued towards many businesses are ones that should be heeded.

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Recently Interbrand, the world’s largest brand consultancy, released its 2009 rankings of the top global brands of 2009.

So what is a global brand, exactly? A global brand  is one that has transcended the linguistic and cultural challenges of entering foreign markets. Widely recognized global brands have successfully implemented the namesake and desirability of their products to consumers in many countries.

The Top Ten Global Brands of 2009:

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The recent acquisition of the automobile retailer Saturn by Penske has reawakened an old debate in business: to co-brand or not to co-brand? Co-branding is the collaboration of two companies in marketing their product, aimed to create synergy and draw interest. If Pillsbury Brownies are enhanced by Nestle Chocolate, then brand recognition and desirability is increased for both parties. Too often, though, co-branding has been relegated to large businesses, because small businesses stand nothing to gain by co-branding because they cannot reach as many people with their products. However, co-branding can be effective for small businesses as well.

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A recent article in Global By Design discusses the possibility of country and city-based domain names for various businesses. This would mean that a business opened in a various city could possibly have the domain name of that city. For example, a small business that opened in Tokyo, Japan could take the domain name, “smallbusiness.JP” or “smallbusiness.TYO” This could be quite beneficial for global businesses trying to create more distinction with respect to their web brands.

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I have been particularly interested in branding recently (I recommend the Branding Strategy Insider blog), and how difficult it is to successfully build a solid, consistent brand message that reaches across diverse cultures and languages.

One of the fundamentals of effective branding is consistency. If a firm sends mixed messages, consumers are less likely to have a strong conception of what the brand stands for, what its characteristics are that distinguish it from the competition. Brands that try to change with every passing fad seem hollow, like followers rather than leaders.