Should Brand Design using Brand Personality be adapted to the cultural differences of international markets?

Term Paper, 2015

28 Pages, Grade: 1,3

Fe Feltes (Author)


Table of content

1. Introduction
1.1. Relevance of the problem
1.2. State of research
1.3. Objectives and research question
1.4. Scope and limitations
1.5. Procedure and method

2. Theoretical background
2.1. Brand Management
2.2. Corporate Design
2.3. Hofstede´s Cultural Dimensions

3. Best Practise Example of Nestlé
3.1. Nestle GmbH
3.2. Brand Personality of Nestlé
3.3 Brand Design of Nescafé
3.4 International Strategy

4. Conclusion

5. References

II. List of figures

Figure 1 Five Dimensions and 5 of its 15 facettes of brand personality (own representation)

Figure 2 Onion Model, Brand Personality of Aspirin (Prof. Dr. Pätzmann, 2015)

Figure 3 Hofstede´s Cultural Dimensions, Germany (The Hofstede Centre, 2015)

Figure 4 Hofstede´s Cultural Dimensions, China (The Hofstede Centre, 2015)

Figure 5 Hofstede´s Cultural Dimensions, US vs. Germany (The Hofstede Centre, 2015)

Figure 6 Food Industry, Umbrella companies and their brands (Forbes, 2015)

Figure 7 Onion Model, Brand Personality Nestlé (own representation)

Figure 8 Nescafé Logo then and now (Underconsideration, 2015)

Figure 9 Nescafé Logo and its elements (Underconsideration, 2015)

Figure 10 Nescafé The iconic red mug (Underconsideration, 2015)

Figure 11 Instant Coffe Nescafé US, Germany, China (own representation)

1. Introduction

1.1. Relevance of the problem

Globalization and intercultural aspects define the modern business environment these days. Commerce between the nations has become an integral part of this world. Whether or not a company decides to participate in the international business, it still cannot get around the influences of different cultures. Trading restrictions do not build a barrier anymore, and the world wide web helps customers to get access to information about products or prices instantly. Suppliers have not only to compete with local companies, but with companies from all over the world. These days, one hardly finds a business company that does not operate internationally in any way. In order to reach the goals of being competitive and gaining market shares, entrepreneurs developed a wide range of different kinds of business management strategies. (Cateora et al., 2003, p. 4)

Management in general, and any other type of theoretical approach are thought-constructs that arise in people’s minds. The common understanding of these subjects is slightly changing from one person to another. It is not without a reason, that one hardly finds an explicit definition for these terms. What people understand these terms to mean, is strongly related to their personal backgrounds. Thoughts and behaviors are intuitive and subjective. It always depends on which person is the one currently dealing with a topic. Who is this person? What are the values of this person? What are the personal characteristics of this person? The way, someone thinks and perceives any situation in life depends on a wide range of psychological factors that differ from person to person, from society to society, and from culture to culture. This matter of fact applies for all kinds of theories and models in business environments. (Chanlat et al., 2013, p. 1997)

Culture in turn, has a huge influence on personal, characteristics and behaviors. This term is not only the description of what kind of food different societies use to have for dinner. It defines the way, how people think about life and about their standing in it. It determines, what people consider being good or bad, right or wrong, true or false. Culture describes who we are. So, as long as humans are involved in any kind of topic, there is always the influence of their cultural background, one has to deal with. Also the theories that are established in an organizational environment are very much reflecting the culture they descend from. Mahatma Gandhi once said, "A Nation's culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people" (Gandhi Quotes, 2015) It is therefore understandable, that one cannot interact with humans, whether they are employees, supervisors, customers or suppliers, without having a profound understanding of their way of looking at the world. (Stone et al., 2008, p. 307)

1.2. State of research

Global brands are probably the most obvious outcome of globalization. Many companies drive a global marketing strategy in order to stay competitive and to address a more diverse customer base. However, little research has been done on Brand Cultures and their personality in the international markets. (Jiafeng, 2015, p. 187 - 192) Global brands are appealing from both the supply side and the demand side perspective. For the supply side for instance, they can create economies of scale, and scope in research and development. Whereas the demand side benefits from worldwide availability. (Özsomer et al., 2012) Sony, BMW, Coca-Cola or Mc. Donald´s are only some of the global brands that are known for being successful with their business throughout the whole world. Some of them stick to a more standardized international Brand Personality, which does not change in any way respective the individual markets. Others, like for example Nestlé with its world brand Nescafé, adapt their advertising messages according to the preferences of the country concerned. (Cateora et al. 2003, p. 372) Both of these strategies seem to be successful. One hardly finds a definite answer to the question, whether to pursue maximum adaption or general standardization, when it comes to the complex task field of international Brand Planning. Also, the subject of Brand Design is barley mentioned in this context. These are the gaps, this term paper is going to fill.

1.3. Objectives and research question

The purpose of this scientific work is to define and analyze the role of culture in the field of modern international marketing. Thereby, the focus lies especially on the subject of Brand Management, and its linked topics Brand Personality and Brand Design. The findings of this work should support firms in their strategic decisions towards their Brand Personality and Brand Design, especially regarding to the challenges of international business. The analysis of top brands and their success stories will help to accomplish this goal. The practical insights will serve as a role model and give evidence in terms of how to successfully establish a Brand Personality in the international market.

The objective is to answer the following questions:

- Is having a cultural competency for different target markets so important in the field of Brand Design?
- Is a brand stronger when it is perceived everywhere the same, or should its appearance be adapted to the local markets?
- Should there be an overall brand communication that is as international as possible?
- How strong have cultural, psychological and social aspects to be taken into account in the field of international brand planning?

This leads to the research question: Should Brand Design using Brand Personality be adapted to the cultural differences of international markets?

1.4. Scope and limitations

Capturing the whole subject area of “Branding” and “Culture” to the extent and scope of this term paper is impossible. It was the given task to focus on the term of “Corporate Design” so this will be the relevant part in this work. In order to find the link between Corporate Design and Brand Management, this thesis will be dealing with the subjects of Brand Design and Brand Personality of different companies in particular. Also, this study will focus on analyzing the cultural aspects of the United States, Germany and China, since eastern and western countries tend to have the major distinction when it comes to their cultures.

1.5. Procedure and method

In the first instance the definition of the term Brand Management and its associated topics Brand Personality and Corporate Design will provide the basis, on which this thesis will be set up. In the further course, an introduction of Hofstedes “Cultural Dimensions” will help to understand the role of cultural influences in the strategic management of business environments. The best practice example of the world brand Nescafé shows, how an international operating company deals with the challenges of brand communications. A profound analysis of this case will show, whether an overall adaption of the Brand Personality and Brand Design to cultural differences is advisable or not. The results of this scientific work can be used from entrepreneurs to find their own appropriate branding strategy for the international market. A conclusion based on former insights will round of the study.

2. Theoretical background

2.1. Brand Management

Brand Management describes the work of creating, improving and maintaining a brand. The implementation of marketing campaigns and related activities helps to manage brand equity and to improve the long-term profitability of a brand. (Keller et al., 2008) It develops strategic plans in order to improve the perceived value of a product or service, more specifically, the brand linked to it. The term descends from the area of Marketing, but focuses on the brand itself, more than on the company or the product behind it. If Brand Management is done properly, consumers associate the product or service with positive values and characteristics, with a positive feeling. A good brand can be the purchase decisions for customers. This is the case for example, when someone buys these shoes not because they have the best foot bed, but because it says “Nike” on it. This customer gets “Nike” shoes, because he identifies himself with the values and ideologies behind the brand. The swoosh, which is the common known symbol of Nike, becomes a status symbol. It allows the footwear producers to sell their products for a higher price than no-name competitors, even if the pure value of the goods is the same. In a time, where products become more and more similar, the subject of branding is essential for competitors to differentiate themselves from each other. (Businessdictionary, 2015)

2.1.1 Brand Personality

The personality of a brand is the description of the set of human characteristics associated with it. Consumers relate to these characteristics, when they think about the brand or the product behind it. Personalities of brands can be perceived in just the same way as personalities of humans. Uniqueness, sincerity, intellectualism, competence, excitement, sophistication are common features, that can be linked to a brand. Brand Personalities can even have a gender, age or a socio-economic class. This is, how Apple for example is perceived being “younger” than IBM. Giving a brand a human personality makes customers build a relationship with the brand. It triggers them to have emotional feelings towards the brand and raises their loyalty. This is one of many tools that are used in the field of marketing, to differentiate oneself from competitors. (Homburg et al. 2006, p. 636) A Brand Personality can be divided in 5 dimensions. Within these dimensions there are 15 different facets, which again encompass 42 items. (Bearden et al., 2010, p. 343) Since this would go beyond the scope of this work, the focus in the practical part will only be on the 5 dimensions and their description as they are shown in the graph below.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure1 Five Dimensions and 5 of its 15 facettes of brand personality(own representation)

It is not totally easy for companies to define their own Brand Personality, as it is a matter of perception. The Onion Model helps to answer this question by gradually approaching to the solution. By posing three simple questions, it leads to the answer step by step. The first question, “Who am I?” asks for the “Brand Core”. The answer to it can be seen as equivalent to the name of the company or the brand. This first step is pretty easy as the answer is obvious. The second question is: “What do I offer?” The analysis in this one goes somewhat deeper. In this part one is searching for the Brand Benefit. Although it asks for the products or services that are being offered, it also leaves some room for personal interpretation as benefits can also be immaterial values, that are not necessarily the product or service itself. The third and last question of the Onion Model is: “What am I like?” By answering this, one gives a profound description of the set of characteristics related to the brand. This is, what later will be defined as the Brand Personality of the subject of interest. The step-by-step approach of the Onion Model leads entrepreneurs in the right direction. It helps them to tunnel their thoughts and to find an adequate solution in an efficient way. If one had to answer the question “What am I like?” in the first instance, one probably would get stuck and loose oneself in defining the meaning of this question. The graph below illustrates what was said before, using the example of the brand ASPIRIN.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure 2 Onion Model, Brand Personality of Aspirin (Prof. Dr. Pätzmann, 2015)

2.1.2 Brand Touch Points

Within the context of marketing, a “touchpoint” is a point of contact or interaction of a company, its products or services, its brand with the costumer or other related stakeholders(Winters, 2014, p. 33). To analyze the Brand Touchpoints is crucial for a successful business, especially for the concerns of the emotional strategies of Brand Personalities. It captures the different ways, a brand interacts with its customers and stakeholders such as employees, investors and others. It describes the total perception of the brand in order to find out which are the interactions that have maximum impact on customer perception. The latter are the ones, on which the further strategy should focus on. (Elliott et al., 2007, p. 208)

2.2. Corporate Design

The Corporate Design describes the visual appearance of a company and its products or services. It represents the Corporate Identity in terms of visual aspects. The aim is to make customers and all kinds of stakeholders perceive the company as one single unity. Constant factors like logos, typography, colors and symbols are used to make up the Corporate Design of a company. Also products and packaging are part of it and even the architecture of a building can be part of the Corporate Design. It combines all the aspects that give the answer to the question “How can I be regonized in terms of visual perception?” (Gabler Wirtschaftslexikon, 2015)

2.2.1 Brand Design

As indicated by its name, Brand Design describes the set visual appearances of the brand. It can be seen as a sub-area of the Corporate Design. It is the most important tool when it comes to communicating the firms Brand Visions and Brand Philosophy towards the customers. The aim is to create a Brand Image that is realized, understood, accepted and preferred by the customers. (Linxweiler, 2004, p. 124)


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Should Brand Design using Brand Personality be adapted to the cultural differences of international markets?
University of Applied Sciences Neu-Ulm  (Wirtschaftswissenschaften)
Brand Management
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should, brand, design, personality
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Fe Feltes (Author), 2015, Should Brand Design using Brand Personality be adapted to the cultural differences of international markets?, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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