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German brands going global

By Gonzalo Brujó

It’s a well-known fact that German corporations invest strategically in the creation and management of their brands, especially in the automotive, technology and retail sectors. Globally, they are also a reference for their B2B. Although beneficial on a national scale, this no doubt also contributes to their international positioning as recognized experts in these sectors. Managing brands effectively at the international level is becoming increasingly important in today’s globalized market: How else can we expect to broaden our target audiences and grow our businesses?

Over the past several years, German brands have also been consistently represented in the Best Global Brands ranking (10 out of the 100 brands are German: Mercedes-Benz, BMW, SAP, Volkswagen, Audi, Siemens, Allianz, adidas, Porsche, Hugo Boss). This illustrates not only the international recognition of these brands, but also how well they have performed to be selected among the top 100 most valuable brands in the world. The second Best German Brands ranking conducted by Interbrand shows that brands in Germany are performing extremely well nationally while growing abroad. In fact, Germany is setting a standard for Europe with brands that have a truly European presence and awareness. The country itself is becoming one of the driving forces in branding and expertise on the continent today.

As this year’s ranking shows, German brands are aware of the need to adapt in line with rapid technological advancements and changing customer expectations in today’s market — accommodating changing needs and expectations, but also new ideas, formats, products and services. This is the only way for them to remain internationally relevant. People around the world want products and services that are customized to their own exclusive needs and desires (The Age of You). German brands may be global, but they still need to adjust in line with consumer preferences and target personalized solutions.

The challenge in adapting still remains, however, in how to best leverage the data gathered from clients to achieve the best global benefit. However international our brand management planning can be, there is a strong need to make brands connect locally. The local issue lies in figuring out how to optimize big data rather than simply gather it. Brand leaders will need to intelligently diversify their offerings to ensure that consumers around the world not only remember their brands, but also consume and engage with them in their local markets. Each region has its own unique ways of conducting business and specific cultural characteristics which need to be addressed. Germany is no different, and neither are its brands.

As we move towards a seamless world in which online and offline strategies combine to achieve total convergence in communications, some purely national brands will remain local and avoid opening themselves up to other markets. These are a minority, though, as most recognize the need to globalize.

Working internationally involves thinking big and exploring all imaginable possibilities. Internet and digitization are shining the spotlight on even the most remote places in the world. Of course, German global brands are totally accessible no matter where they are based. Is there anyone in the world today who hasn’t heard of the venerable brands mentioned above? German brands are succeeding in deepening a global understanding of their local brands among consumers, effectively taking them to a broader international level.

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