Brands Across Borders

Every time I leave the United States, I am reminded of the power of a truly global brand. My favorite brand this week is by far Starbucks with McDonald’s as the runner-up. Why?

Well I have just spent the last week working in the UK, Switzerland and France. Despite my iPhone working just fine, I didn’t want to pay a small fortune for “data roaming” for email and access to the Web. And I can’t always bounce back to my hotel when I have a series of meetings stretched across a city. So Starbucks has been my mobile office. Why do I gravitate to them? They provide a simple and clear brand promise—a reliable cup of coffee and free wireless Internet in a generally pleasant environment. I have visited at least one if not two a day.

Could I find a local, more interesting version? Certainly if I had the time but this is all about expediting my work and my buying criteria are different when on vacation. Reliability and speed rule, not cultural immersion. I sadly must save that for vacation. McDonald’s is my back-up mobile office only because there are so many more of them even in much smaller towns. They generally now also have free wireless access and I can grab a quick Diet Coke and yes even fries in a pinch. But in both cases these brands have used an added feature to support their primary brand promise. What is your company’s added value?

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