Brand as a System:
The Local meets the Global
Fang Wan, Ph.D.
Professor of Marketing
Ross Johnson Research Fellow
Asper School of Business
University of Manitoba, Canada
The 5th International Research Symposium on Branding in
Emergent Markets, Dec 10, Nanjing
Brand China Planning and Strategy Institute
Executive Committee Member of Einstein Legacy Project 爱因斯坦品
Founder, Book Club of Chinese Chamber of Commerce, 加拿大
Co-founder, Fella Club, 成都FELLA学社联合创始人
Co-founder, Branding Thought and Action, 品牌思为俱乐部联合
我的穿梭 My Journey
Blend Strong Culture with
Structure, Iconic, Impactful,
Undifferentiated, market nice
What kind of brands sustain to the future?
What is Apple selling?
We make beautiful
computers. They are
Simple to use and user
Wanna buy me?
Everything we do we
believe in changing the
status quo. We believe in
The way we challenge
status quo is by making
our products beautifully
designed, simple to use.
We happen to make
Apple on the Inside
Apple's really efficient and very impersonal when it comes to
making decisions [about killing a product]. There is never any
illusion about what the company's focus is and that comes
from the top, that came from people like Steve and Scott
[Forstall, head of iPhone software], formerly [software chief]
Bertrand [Serlet], Tim Cook, everybody, they know what
Apple is supposed to be doing and the other side of that is
they know what Apple is doing, they actually know what's
going on in their back yards.”
- Former employee commenting to the Guardian Newspaper
Apple on the Inside
“[Jobs] was hands-on in a way I've never seen anywhere else, and it
must have been exhausting and time-consuming for him.
These were nail-biting occasions for us. We'd wait in our office to
hear the verdict while the designer presented behind closed doors.
Several times he never even got as far as showing off the features
we'd been slaving over because Steve would immediately focus on a
bad visual element in the interface. Whether it was an ugly button, a
miss-aligned font, or a control panel with too many buttons, we'd
never recover. All our work under the hood meant nothing, he had
seen enough and we'd failed...it took me time to realise how
effective his method was. Because we knew any surface sloppiness
would negate everything else we did, the user experience became
the true top priority.”
-Former employee comment to the Guardian Newspaper
Apple on the Inside
“Steve Jobs has been described as "brilliant" and "mean" in
the same breath. Brilliant because of his insight and vision,
mean because he would let you know if your ideas weren't
insightful or visionary.”
- Former employee comment to the Guardian Newspaper
“After looking at many different materials [for Apple’s new
retail store], Jobs finally decided on a type of limestone called
Pietra Serena that comes from a region of Italy near Florence.
Although they could only find 5,000 square feet of the color
Jobs liked, he insisted that 1,000 square feet of it be flown to
Cupertino for his personal inspection.”
– Employee comment in Business Week
Brand Core Values (e.g. Google)
1. Focus on the user and all else will follow.
2. It’s best to do one thing really, really well.
3. Fast is better than slow.
4. Democracy on the web works.
5. You don’t need to be at your desk to need an answer.
6. You can make money without doing evil.
7. There’s always more information out there.
8. The need for information crosses all borders.
9. You can be serious without a suit.
10. Great just isn’t good enough.
Dr Wan_PA Brand Exercise
Traditional Organization Structure
Google’s Organization Structure
Peer to peer vs.
manager to minion
caring vs. managing
Transforming Geniuses into Happy Teams
Culture is scientifically designed and executed to
ensure growth of talents
Google Innovation DNA: 基因
Collective genius: True asset of Google is its talent pool and
the culture to nurture and motivate the talents.
engineer-driven+freedom+democracy (YES) +ad-hoc
Manifestation of Brand Triangle
in SMEs: Five Prototypes
1. The Infant
“Brand starts as a hobby and stays as a hobby.”
2. The Rock
“We are good. Come and find us.”
“Brand promotion is a virtue, not a vice!”
Confined by industry/regional norm
Bias against external branding
Lacks the will, skills, or mindset
Lack of understanding of the importance of
external branding as part of holistic branding
Lack of explicit awareness that internal values can
be a strong tie to external stakeholders
3. The Shell
“Chasing the wind”
4. Old Man
“Why fix it if it is not broken?”
A strong internal culture can impede change
Homogeneity in internal members
Content with status quo (but market share will
Lack of competition at Time 1
Lack of Motivation
Long term sustainability in a changing market
involves adopting an “adaptive” mind set
Implement brand tracking
Activate incremental change
Diversity in work place to enact change
Brand extensions to attract younger segments
Brand can be rejuvenated by extension to new
5. The Star
“Aware, Active, Adaptive”
external branding activities are driven by core brand
value internally and brand soul.
Internal analysis precedes brand expression.
holistic understanding of brand identity.
Situating brand in the market place with long term
Adaptation to market change at T2 is coordinated with
the core brand value at T1.
Resources, expertise, and culture are in place
A combination of organic growth and
Self-reflective with long-term goal orientation
Value system is gluing various constituencies
Obtuse Brand Growth of
(guided by rationality
Flat Branding of NGOs
Strong foundation of brand soul
Less conscious pursuit of
Internal and external branding
Solid, strong brand soul, guided by
pubic engagement &
Unique Brand Challenges in Public Management
Prevents alignment, coordination, interconnectedness
of brand components
Myopia (ego-centric view of external world)
Fear of Change
Lack of brand adaptation and brand valuation
Fear of Change
Global meets the local
MNCs vs EMNs
Decoding Canadian Brands
Is there a Canadian brand?
--Good country brand; poor corporate brands
Diversity is a double-edged sword
--lack of shared identity
Integration is Necessary
--no culture glue; no concerted efforts
Scaling is necessary
Decoding Chinese Global Brands (Wan 2012)
The Heart of the Continent to China:
我的关怀 My Heart and My Dream
No one can escape from her home
It does not matter how far we travel
We always remember the road to home
When a person is growing older
When her body is more and more distant from
Her heart and soul will grow closer to home
The complex of home starts from childhood
And it affects us for a life time