What Brand Challenges Does Your Investment Present?
10 Questions for inbound U.S. investors
Question 9 - What brand challenges does your investment present?
Broadly defined, a brand is the set of expectations the market applies to a named business entity. It defines how comfortable people are buying from you.
From the standpoint of U.S. customers, your investment either introduces a new brand or changes the perception of an existing one. A misfire in brand strategy has the potential to undermine the value of other, more tangible decisions.
During a merger or greenfield process, your investment is your brand – it’s likely the principal thing customers know about you and may generate word-of-mouth activity or even media interest. Later on, attention like that will likely be expensive. While you’re getting this attention at no cost, it’s important to anticipate people’s interest and communicate a clear identity.
Brand perception has a large emotional component, and the cross-border aspect of U.S. inbound investment can amplify the emotions involved.
No matter what the realities of your entity structure, you will be the new arrival – to some, the intruder. Your presence may challenge loyalties and bring cultural issues into sharp relief.
Brand is a message, and investors should manage it like one.
- What do you wish to convey to customers?
- To current and new employees?
- To stakeholders, investors, and regulators?
Even if your brand is centuries old and inspires confidence at home, it may be a blank slate in the United States. Just as you engage attorneys and accountants to help you manage this transition, you may find professional communications counsel can be a valuable asset.
Questions behind the questions
- How will this deal play out in the U.S. media? Will it be a constructive profile in the business section – or a controversy on the front page?
- Who do you want to know about this? Identifying and segmenting your brand’s audiences can help you speak to each of them in a helpful way.
- What are the emotional issues you can’t capture in a spreadsheet or contract? Are they valid? How can you address them?
Do it now
Have your marketing or PR department (or agency) get you a clip file that shows what relevant U.S. publications have written recently about deals similar to yours, and about issues in the market you’re joining. Note the themes, the spins – and what authors’ bylines appear most often.
Within one country, a brand’s strength and consumer confidence are often one and the same. That strength, however, doesn’t always translate when you enter into a new market.
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