Famous faces, company catchphrases and iconic logos seem to be present in all corners around the globe, news travels fast but big brands seem to travel even faster. This might leave you wondering, how on earth did they get there? If you think back to 2015, you might recall a documentary starring the not-so-unknown ex-England football star David Beckham. This show, The Unknown, followed Britain’s beloved Becks as he travelled around the world to see how his fame had spread (oh, and ‘find himself’ of course). Thanks to the global adoration of football, and the spread of information via the internet, Beckham had to travel into the depths of the Amazon rainforest before he could escape the pleas for selfies.

It appears that not only are famous faces becoming world-wide phenomena’s that have outgrew their home country, but big brands too, with their expansions taking place on a global scale. BMW, Coca-Cola, and McDonald’s are perfect examples of this, especially with the BMW 3 series becoming even more popular. They are all household names and you would have to venture pretty far before you found someone who hadn’t heard of them. Let’s have a closer look at how these big names managed to expand around the globe, and how your business can follow them.

Firstly, BMW

The constant growth of this globally recognized car brand is becoming even more astounding.  In 2018, it achieved its highest ever annual sales with a total of 2,125,026 cars sold worldwide, a growth of 1.8%. The figures are impressive, but how did BMW achieve this worldwide accreditation?

By teaming up with other brands and manufacturing vehicles in different countries, BMW has used this as a method of expansion. For example, they joined forces with British car company Rover whose sales of Land Rovers have been on the rise globally. ­

In addition, BMW aim to ensure their brand is easily relatable and understood on a universal scale. Their branding is simple yet effective, with a memorable logo, and concisely named car ranges such as, the 5 series, the 7 series, the Z line. The simple, numeric name system can be understood globally. For example, “328” tells you the car is in the 3 series and the engine is 2.8 liters in size — easy! ­

To name a few more, BMW has created a presence through popular media and cinemas. Think of a universally known film featuring a car chase— BMW has probably somehow been involved. Some of the most famous placements of BMW cars on the big screen include The World Is Not Enough (1999) which saw Piers Brosnan driving a 2000 BMW Z8, Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation (2015) in which Tom Cruise was at the wheel of a BMW M3, and Fast & Furious 6 (2013) which showcased a fleet of 2010 BMW M5s. These blockbusters amongst others, have reached audiences around the world, which has done wonders for BMW’s global brand.

How about Coca-Cola?

Coca-Cola has become one of the most recognizable brands in the world, through strategic product placements and campaigns that’s promote the central message of happiness. It is estimated that Coca-Cola reaches daily servings of 1.9 billion globally, and many of its slogans such as “Open Happiness” are recognised around the globe. Recently, retro coke bottles were featured in the popular Netflix show Stranger Things 3 (2019) which was watched by at least 18.2 million viewers worldwide. Like BMW, Coca-Cola is using popular culture to its advantage.

Through the Expedition 206 project in 2010, Coca-Cola helped establish itself throughout the world. The project starred three twenty-somethings, Tony Martin, from Washington, D.C.; Kelly Ferris from Brussels; and Antonio Santiago from Mexico City. The group set out on a quest to visit every Coca-Cola-selling country around the world to find out ‘what makes people happy’. The journey took the trio to 186 countries (just short of the 206 where Coca-Cola is sold), and they travelled 275,000 miles. If this doesn’t show Coca-Cola’s commitment to connect with their customers around the world then I don’t know what does!

Strategically, they ensured that they played a part in one of the most, if not they most, popular worldwide event- the Olympics. The 2010 Vancouver games featured the slogan “Open the Games. Open Happiness” and was broadcast around the world.

Let’s talk McDonald’s

McDonalds’ famous ‘golden arches’ has made them an undeniably recognized worldwide brand, first started in San Bernardino, California in 1940, it has then grew to be one of the world’s biggest employers.  McDonald’s serve at least 70 million customers every day — that’s more than the population of the UK!

Using the two strategies, Standardization and adaption, McDonald’s make their brand known throughout the world.

Using the standardization strategy, some items McDonald’s offer will be available to buy anywhere in the world, whether you’re in Tokyo, New York, or London. The Classic meals such as a Big Mac and fries can be found around the globe with perfect uniformity. Wherever you are, you know what you’re getting with McDonald’s. This strategy brings comfort and trust to its customers.

Using the Adaption strategy, McDonald’s ensures their meals appeal to a global audience and suit the taste buds of every culture. To achieve this, McDonald’s creates new food items. Here are some of my favourites:

  • Japan: McChoco Potato (fries covered in chocolate sauce)
  • Canada: Poutine
  • Italy: Spinach and Parmesan Nuggets
  • India: McCurry Pan
  • Philippines: Chicken McDo with Spaghetti
  • China: Bacon, Macaroni and Cheese Toastie

However unusual the tactics these mega-brands have used it seems to have rocketed them to universal fame. Quirky marketing campaigns and creative thinking about the desires of customers everywhere could make the difference between staying local and conquering the worldwide market.

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