In the world of marketing branding a product is often the key to success. In today’s global economy having an international brand is increasingly critical for the bottom line.

Coca-Cola, for example, has had a difficult year in its US and European markets because of the growing disinterest in sugary products and a saturation of its consumer base. But Coke is not down in the dumps because it has had a good year in the emerging markets of the world – a 12% increase in sales in Turkey and a 13% increase in Russia. Similar solid sales figures can be found throughout the developing world. You can travel to some of the most remote places on earth and see that Coke sign. Branding

I got a fresh reminder of branding when I was sitting in an outdoor cafe in Istanbul. A group of university students came over to talk and when they found out I was from Boston, they in unison shouted ” Celtics”, and then proceeded to name the players. They were especially excited about Rajon Rondo, who despite being out for the season, was their favorite. Branding.

Later on as I strolled through the marketplace, I passed a sports equipment store and there to my surprise was a full length poster of Kevin Garnett, right next to a poster of Barcelona’s  soccer living legend, Lionel Messi. Branding.

We all know that the Celtics brand is secure in these parts, even though the ” Green Machine” is a shell of its former self. But it Istanbul, excitement over Rajon Rondo and a poster of Kevin Garnett proves the power of international branding.  I didn’t see anyone with a Celtics shirt on, but I am sure that there are Turks somewhere in the country that have bought into the brand.

One other brand that caught my eye. Again, the Turkish university students were joyous over the Celtics as they chain-smoked Marlboros. It is not an exaggeration that many Turkish young people are smokers and there doesn’t seem to be any national health campaign to dissuade them. Needless to say, the executives at Marlboro must be doing cartwheels when they see the sales of their brand in Turkey.

It is no secret that people around the world love our brands and want to use our brands in order to ” feel” American. This so-called soft power of our popular culture is our secret weapon and of course a key foundation of our corporate global strategy.  An argument can be made that we have indeed conquered the world, not with our military, but with our brands. Go Celtics.



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