How To Navigate Branding Decisions in International Markets

If you’re developing an international marketing strategy, there will come a time when you’ll have to decide how are you going to address branding decisions for your product or service. 

A brand is a very powerful tool to connect with your customers but it is also an investment that requires creating the right connotations and associations between your product and its audience. 

This is already challenging enough when it comes to your domestic market, but it can become even more difficult when addressing international markets. 

The simplest and most effective way to address this very complex decision process is to explore the benefits and limitations of each option. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do.

With no further ado, let’s get started.

No Brand

The first decision to make is whether your product\service requires a brand. In general terms, most products are branded but in some cases, a brand is superfluous. 

Commodities or simple inputs of production are not branded because they are indistinguishable. If you’re exporting or distributing raw materials, for instance,  you will not be required to create a brand. 

In general terms, however, in many cases, producers do try to create something which is unique or recognizable, so that they can at least evaluate one of the three most common branding options for a product. 

We’re going to discuss them in the next section of our post.

Branded Product

When it comes to a branded product, there are three ways to go. Let’s see each individually.

Private Label 

A private label is a distributor’s brand. A manufacturer strikes a deal with its retail partners allowing the distributor to use their own brand on someone else’s product.  

This option is beneficial for both parties. 

A manufacturer can avoid any additional “go-to-market” expenses, but it needs to also make sure that the private label product will not cannibalize its own market share. In some cases, however, a manufacturer may not have options and can accept a private label as a way to access shelf space. 

On the other hand, the distributor can use private labels to strengthen its own image, and because of the added value provided by the brand, it can retain a good profit margin.

Ingredient Branding

In ingredient branding what is happening is that a manufacturer wants to communicate its point of difference by displaying a specific component or element of the product which is a strong indicator of quality. 

A simple example may be provided by Intel processors in computers. As a processor is the most important piece of hardware of the computer, displaying the brand of a high-quality manufacturer can play an important factor in persuading your customer. That why on personal computers we often see the logo “Intel Inside”.

As a result, some products use ingredient branding to effectively represent the source of competitiveness of the product being sold. 

Manufacturer Brand

Last but not least we have the traditional understanding of a brand, the manufacturer’s brand. 

In this case, the manufacturer uses its own brand to provide an element of distinction to its products and make them stand out in the market. 

One challenge remains. How can one approach different options when developing brands over multiple markets? 

In the next section of the post, we’ll provide a quick guide to navigate this question.

Manufacturer Brand and Market Decisions

Again, the best way to identify the right decision when it comes to choosing how to develop a brand over multiple markets is by looking at the options available. 

Single Market and Single Brand

In this case, within a market that a company is competing in, all of its products fall within one brand. 

This is the case with companies that are bringing to market products that are similar enough to benefit from the same brand associations. 

In this context, for instance,  a food brand can be an example of this approach, as the elements of quality, family time, and health may all be beneficial associations for a broad category of food and food-related products. 

Similarly, a fashion brand can be easily associated with clothing, fragrances, eyewear, leather goods, and jewelry. 

Single Market But Multiple Brands

In this case, what happens is the opposite of what we have just described. 

This is the case of a brand like Procter and Gamble or Unilever, where these corporations have developed a one-product-one-brand strategy. 

The reasoning behind this is that it is very little or no trade-off between their brands and their respective product categories and it’s better to keep them distinct in the mind of their customers. 

This way each brand will be able to be managed independently without impacting or influencing the rest of the product offer, building for each a unique set of associations. 

In these cases, the products also need to be strongly branded because their appeal would be reduced if the manufacturer would not act on packaging, design, claim and promise to make a detergent, dish soap, or toothpaste attractive to the end consumer. 

Multiple Market Local Brand 

The last decision to make regards the decision to develop a local brand for each market in which the company is competing or developing a global brand to be used worldwide. 

In this first instance, an organization decides to look into multiple local brands as the brand needs to reflect some location and culture-specific characteristics that are decisive in the development of the company’s positioning. 

This is a situation that is very likely for companies to consider when developing products and services which tap into lifestyle, food, and daily habits.

Multiple Market Global Brand

In this last example, an organization develops a global brand that is universally acknowledged. 

Examples of global brands are corporations like Apple or Coca-Cola. 

In this case, the brand develops equity (or perceived added values) that relates to a product or to an experience that transcends cultural and national boundaries and can resonate with any individual, regardless of the background and culture or the audience.

There you have it! We’ve now explored all possible options and it’s time to draw our conclusive remarks.


In this post, we’ve looked at how to navigate branding decisions in international markets by looking at all possible strategies. 

By reading through our post you may have found some useful insights that can help you understand what direction to go with your branding decisions.
If you’re looking for more information on international marketing and brand development don’t hesitate to visit our blog where you can find a wealth of free resources at your fingertips. Enjoy!

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How To Navigate Branding Decisions in International Markets In this post, we're exploring all possible branding options when developing your business internationally. Enjoy!
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