SWOT Category: Internal Weakness

Is brand localization necessary to be successful in foreign markets?

I work in marketing communications for a small IT company in Japan. We import IT management software from our parent company in the US for resale to local Japanese customers. These days the gap between our US board members and the local staff in Japan seems to be widening. There is a lack of understanding about the local conditions in the Japanese market.

Our parent company has become very accustomed to the brand recognition that they hold in the US. (They have received many awards and been chosen as one of the most powerful companies in the industry). Unfortunately, they do not hold the same visibility in Japan.

We have been asked to use the same brand collateral as our US parent company (which consists of only the company name and some images). They have not done any localization and stress the importance of “sharing resources,” and “carrying one brand image.” To be honest, I feel this “branding ad” will only work in a market where the brand is well known, but will do poorly in countries like Japan, where the company has very little market penetration. I suspect that other readers in different areas of the world have experienced this. Do your readers have any idea how to measure/compare the effectiveness of a “branding ad” between two different regions, using different marketing vehicles? Is there a way that we can test/prove that market results will improve with a localized brand campaign?

—Anonymous, Marcom and PR Manager

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