5) As if you were creating Frankenstein, which areas from which companies, when put together, would create the perfect company? The idea of a Frankenbrand is very interesting and appealing, but I would say it’s the wrong way to go. Other businesses can learn a lot from the “super six” and can apply those lessons to their own brands, but simply copying, grafting or transplanting aspects of these leading brands onto your own would backfire. Customers would sense that this is inauthentic. Having a “me too” is not the path to relevance. 6) If that’s the case, what is the biggest lesson these companies have to offer SMEs? SME bosses can learn from these brands by finding their own answers to questions – something each of the six brands has done well – including: what important needs in our customers’ lives are we addressing? How can we do that better and become more relevant? Why should people outside of our business care that we exist? What’s really our purpose as a company? This will help to guide innovation. How can we get as close as possible to understanding our customers? Can digital delivery help us to learn more about what matters to them? Pragmatically, how can we stay within reach for our customers? We must be accessible and easy for customers to incorporate in their lives. 7) With businesses becoming increasingly more international, have strategies for brand success needed to evolve? Within the framework of our Global Brand Relevance Index, there are two areas that stand out as brands become more international. Firstly, customer obsession is a critical part of brand relevance, so global brands need to gain an understanding of cultural differences in different markets and respond accordingly, while remaining authentic to the brand. Additionally, when brands enter a foreign market, bosses need to decide how to deal with perceptions about their own country of origin. For example, will Chinese consumers have different expectations of US brands, or vice versa? Secondly, relevance is determined by some pragmatic issues too. International expansion brings fresh challenges for brands to be “available when and where customers need them.” Businesses looking to grow thus need to create brands that customers can easily incorporate into their lives. 8) You mentioned staying true to the brand, no matter where in the world you are. How much of corporate success boils down to culture and whether customers buy into it? Corporate culture is essential to branding success, and often we see that brand transformation projects become cultural transformation projects. The ethos of the company projects itself in its customer service, employee relations, experience delivery, and even product and service innovation. We have seen lots of evidence, especially among Gen-Y and Gen-Z consumers and employees, that corporate purpose is a deciding factor when they choose who to buy from, work for and stay loyal to. Having a common purpose that unites employees and customers alike is increasingly important to a brand’s relevance, especially to younger generations.
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