Export marketing article 2 of 3

Exposing a brand’s ‘DNA’ for export

A brand’s image, direction and ultimately sales in export markets is dictated by it’s DNA.  We’re not talking long strands of molecules, but rather the core structure of what a brand is all about.

That is, what it stands for and the unique point of difference it projects to the world (and export markets).  This brand “persona” is the yardstick upon which all marketing and sales materials are based.  Your brand’s DNA, uniquely distinguishes you from your competitor set and provides the platform upon which your USP sits.

Brand DNADoes this all sound a bit jargony?  If your answer is a resounding yes, you’re not alone!  Exposing your brand’s individuality, is a process which involves asking a number of key questions and working through brand exercises aimed at peeling back the layers of your brand and unveiling that nugget we call the brand DNA.

Once that core is exposed, our clients are able to walk away with a clear understanding of how they might position their brand in export markets such as the USA, UK and Asia.

Our unique process involves exploring answers to the following brand questions:

Brand back story

“The best brands are built on great stories” – Ian Rowden, Chief Marketing Officer, Virgin Group.

Colourful people tend to have colourful lives and even more colourful stories.

Brand BackstoryThis being the case, if your brand had a personality how would that look?  Picture for a moment, your brand sitting at a dinner table.  Would she be the type of vibrant personality telling jokes and keeping the other diners entertained, or would he be sitting at the end of the table, picking specs of food off his fork and looking at his watch?

In export markets your brand needs to have a compelling story or history for customers to relate to, latch onto and create loyalty.  One of our key goals is determining how to weave the passion you have for your business into a back story that creates connection and meaning with your core demographic?  To do this, you need to know where you came from in order to know where you want to go and how best to embrace your history and weave it into your present.

Price point vs benefit

So what’s price got to do with it?  Whereas backstory and history create a sentimental association with customers, price is often seen as a separate and distinct element of your brand’s DNA.

In the case of luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton or Prada, price is recognized as a critical element of the brand’s DNA.  These brands have etched out a positioning of exclusivity within their brand DNA by pricing their products largely out of reach to the mainstream consumer.

However, the power of low price can not be underestimated and plays a pivotal part in brand DNA, as long as it is offset with a core value proposition.

The main takeaway?  Depending on the export segment in which your brand occupies, price can be just as integral to DNA as other experiential elements.

Target market

Your brand may be selling the same product as a competitor, but if only one is actively targeting a niche market, and the other is taking more of a wider, mainstream market position a number of opportunities are created.

  Think about how the DNA of your brand can either a) fix a problem specific to that niche demographic or b) be positioned as an exclusive brand available to only a small subset of a larger demographic.

Ask yourself, “what space in the market do I want to “own”?  If your brand is not in that space, think about how you can your tweak your brand’s DNA to be more appealing.


What contribution does quality play in your brand’s DNA?  Are you using materials or components that are superior to your competitors?  One way a brand can leverage itself is by offering better perceived value. By highlighting it’s integrity via for instance quality construction and product life a brand can incorporate these as core values into it’s marketing materials and DNA.

If these factors are not part of your brand’s DNA  how can they be incorporated to carve out your  unique path and set you down the road to export?

This article is the second of three covering how to ready your brand for export.  In the next issue of Exporter we’ll cover how to tackle trade shows and share some tips that could save you thousands.

Lucy Wildman and Francis Frost are directors of Module Marketing, an export marketing agency delivering results through marketing, communications and strategic thinking, brand development and positioning through an intimate understanding of global markets.