Are you ready to take on the world?
Healthcare companies are feeling a lot of pressure to expand into new global markets, and there are many good reasons to take the plunge — if you’re properly prepared.
If you’re thinking about taking the plunge, it’s important to know that American-style branding doesn’t always work in international markets. In China alone, world-class players like Google, eBay, Best Buy, Home Depot and Amazon have all pulled out after suffering costly failures.
So before you go rushing into new territory with the same branding strategy you’ve always used at home, consider the objectives your company may have on arrival. I’ve listed four of the most common ones here, and in the next few weeks I’ll cover others we watch for when evaluating global healthcare brand identity programs. The more reasons that are on your list, the stronger your need to adapt your brand may be.
1. Generate or increase client confidence
Establishing credibility should be your #1 goal, whether you’re taking an existing healthcare brand into new markets or launching a new one at the global level. Yet surprisingly, we’ve found that major brands routinely ignore the most efficient way to ensure success in global markets — customer-focused research. While there’s definitely a case to be made for being the first company to break into an emerging market, the drive for speed to market can work against you if you simply clone the U.S. version of your branding strategy — dramatically increasing the risks of cultural misunderstanding and costly brand failures.
2. Reflect diversification
Even if you sell the same products or services in new markets, jumping to the global level will make your offerings — and your company — more diverse. You’re likely to find that your approach will need to vary from market to market. While the holy grail is an identity that transcends language and cultural boundaries, we’ve found that strong brands don’t take a “one-size-fits-all” approach. Instead they get to know each market, carefully using the channels and language that resonate best with local culture to convey a consistent core message.
3. Demonstrate a new marketing posture
You may know your brand better than anyone, but selling internationally will mean reaching out to people whose customs, values, and way of life differ dramatically from the US. That may require you to re-think which benefits you emphasize, address new concerns, or work with an unfamiliar type of buyer. Any or all of these changes will need to be supported by your identity.
4. Save money by consolidating materials
New markets create new logistical needs, which are likely to change or expand your supply chain. Government regulation may play a part as well — some markets are resistant to goods from outside, while others crave it. If your identity implies a specific place, language, or culture, it may need to be modified when your sources change.
If you’re preparing to launch a new global healthcare brand or take an existing one into new markets, watch for our new parathink briefing, titled Meeting 21st Century Challenges to Global Healthcare Brands, which we’ll be releasing soon.
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