How important is brand for Ramondin? How do you care for your brand image?

The Ramondin brand is the summary of who we are, what we offer, our products, services and our raison d’être. For Ramondin, our brand is the perception held of us by employees, customers, shareholders, institutions, media, other companies… which is why it deserves preferential treatment and impeccable care.

Our product is implicit in the Ramondin brand: capsules for wines, liqueurs, cavas, sparkling wines… But also their quality, the added value we provide, the excellent service that we offer and the pillars that uphold our company: innovation, internationalisation, respect for the environment and support for Social Responsibility.

In addition to our corporate identity manual, which deals with the appearance and use of the logo, Ramondin has a code of conduct which governs all the values covered by the brand to ensure compliance in every plant in the Group.

This code is present in all Group decisions and in the relationships that Ramondin establishes with each of its groups of interest.

You have recently taken over the Chilean company INESA. What does this step mean in the company’s international expansion strategy?

We are currently a multinational leader in the manufacture of high added value capsules for wines, liqueurs and champagne, which we are following up with an unstoppable growth process after completing the takeover of INESA, a Chilean company that is also in a position of leadership in the screw-top business for wines and liqueurs on the Latin American market.

INESA mainly operates in Chile, but also produces considerable volumes for Brazil and Argentina. INESA generated sales for a values of 16 million US dollars last year.

With this acquisition, Ramondin now holds more than a 30% market share of the wine caps and seals sector. We have therefore reached an indisputable position of leadership in Latin America.

The Ramondin head office is located in Laguardia, and we have therefore added a new plant to the four we already had, in the USA, France, Spain and Argentina. With this new plant, we are also establishing complementary activities. The two are not competitors, but generate synergies to offer our customers a full range of products and provide greater immediacy of delivery to our market.

What markets currently have the most weight in the Ramondin overall business mix and what are the markets of the future?

If we focus on the screw-top market, which is a product range that we are strengthening in our portfolio with the acquisition of INESA, the future prospects are really optimistic. According to a recent market study, over one third of wine bottles in the world have a screw top. There is an upward trend, as there are markets where this is already the closure mainly used for wines, such as Chile, South Africa and Australia, and this trend is expected to grow over the next 10 years. The use of screw tops is growing at a rate of 7%, while wine consumption is increasing at 1%, so it is clearly gaining ground on other types of caps. In some markets this is already the type of cap primarily used by vineyards, such as in Chile, where 56% of bottles specially made for exportation have a screw cap.

In terms of the overall Ramondin business mix, the level of overseas sales exceeds 80% of our business. As well as plants in France, Argentina and the USA, the company sells directly to over 50 countries, through different sales delegations and its large sales network distributed around the world. If we talk about goals and challenges for the future, we could mention that there is still a lot of work to be done in different markets, both in some of the traditional ones and in other new markets that are growing fast: certain South American countries, Australia, etc. There are also emerging markets such as Asia.

What is the main competitive advantage of Ramondin over its competitors?

The key factor in the Ramondin strategy is based on two main pillars: differentiation with our high added value products and investment in innovation. We are characterised by banking on high quality capsules, differentiating ourselves from our competitors, and on ongoing support for offering alternatives to the market (new materials, anti-falsification systems, traceability, etc.). All this along with our guarantee and the reliability of our service, which is an essential part of our company philosophy.

Respect for and protection of the environment, an exemplary employment policy, transparency… in short, Social Responsibility is an increasingly important concern for vineyards and distilleries… which requires that partners and suppliers – in this case Ramondin – are also compliant. For Ramondin, Corporate Social Responsiblility has become a strategic concern, so much so that it is the only company in the sector that has AENOR IQNet SR10 certification for its CSR actions. Only around 60 businesses in the world hold this certification.

You have a Technical and R&D department. What value does this support for innovation add to your brand?

Unwavering product innovation requires understanding the type of market we move in. At Ramondin, we want to be pro-active and anticipate our customers’ potential needs in any part of the world. It is therefore essential to know our customers and have good communication with them: proposing ideas, but also being open to receive and listen to feedback, suggestions and proposals. It is also important to travel, get out and see what is out there. Seeing what our suppliers can offer us, but also what is starting to become a trend in other industries and sectors. Inter-departmental communication, key in terms of corporate transversality, must be indispensable for product innovation as a whole to function and keep going.

Under these premises, we have worked over the past year on the launch of new products. Our main innovation and hard work in R+D+I is based on making products that are environmentally friendly, particularly in terms of recycling.

Also in innovations to improve packing image, particularly in terms of capsule finishes to make them more attractive visually (new glossy decorations…), to the touch (new rough and velvety textures…), but we have also invested in new anti-falsification methods and more environmentally friendly products. Innovation has been one of the historical keys to the success of our company and must therefore continue on a daily basis, with all those involved working side by side and collaborating in order to continue making this point one of Ramondin’s strengths.

What are the challenges facing the company over the next five years?

The main challenges for Ramondin in the next few years include the integration of the new plant in the USA and INESA into the Ramondin Group, as well as the implementation of new management systems.

At this time we need to concentrate all our efforts on the integration process, the implantation of a new management model (we are introduction SAP to the Ramondin Group), keeping operations running smoothly (implementation of transversal processes) and capturing the synergies identified before the transaction and in the implantation of the new US plant. Integration is a very complex process and in order to be successful it requires an action plan that mobilises the entire organisation and maximises value.

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On April 13, The Forum of Brands and the Office of the Government High Commissioner for the Spain Brand attended a gala dinner held by the Spanish Business Council (SBC) in Dubai, to publicly acknowledge the Friends of the Spain Brand and of Spanish Brands in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The event, which counted on the support and involvement of the Embassy of Spain in the UAE, was attended by about 200 people, amongst them representatives of Spanish companies established in the region and Emirati guests, who enjoyed a menu designed by the Spanish chef, Quique Dacosta.

On this occasion the award-winners were:


Sheikh Majid Al Mualla

Senior commercial Vice President of Emirates Airline

 

 

 

 

 

 


Salem Obaidalla

Senior Vice President of Aeropolitics and Industrial Affairs of Emirates Airline

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Marwan Al Sarkal

CEO of Shurooq

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


S.E Hoda Kanoo

General Manager of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation

In whose place the award was collected by Mohamed Abdul Latif Kanoo, owner of the Kanoo Group

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Friends of Spanish brands


Abdulla Abdelqader Al Maeeni

Friend of Natura Bissé

Ricardo Fisas, Vice President of the cosmetics firm, presented the award to Mohammad Al Hashmi, head of the Department of Employment of ESMA.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Abdullah A. Al-Shaikh

Friend of Cosentino

Abdullah A. Al-Shaikh, General Manager of Gulf Power Marine, was acknowledged and received his award from Maarrawi, General Manager of Cosentino Middle East.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Chalhoub Inc.

Friend of Lladró

The award was bestowed on the firm Chalhoub Inc. Pavlina Sochou, Operations Manager of the Luxury Gifts division collected the award, on behalf of Chalhoub, from the hands of Pablo Lopez, deputy Director General of Forum Brands.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Southern Dubai restaurant

Friend of Marqués de Cáceres

Juan Carlos Gonzalez, restaurant chef, received the award from Pablo Lopez, deputy Director General of the Brands Forum.

 

 

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Interview with Ignacio R. Sierra, Corporate Director General of Cortefiel Group
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Patricia García-Escudero – Managing Director for the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office (OEPM)

The publication of EU Directive 2015/2436 of the European Parliament and of the Council, of 16 December 2015, on the approximation of the brand laws of the Member States, gives rise to the need to adapt our legal system to the provisions of this standard, the purpose of which is to overcome the approximation previously reached under Directive 2008/95/EC, and to extend it to other aspects not only of material brand law but also in relation to certain provisions of a procedural nature.

In its day, Law 17/2001, of 7 December, on Brands, incorporated many of the standards now imposed under the new Directive, in particular with regard to brands as the object of right of ownership, collective marks or certain procedural rules. However, this Directive also introduces new provisions and in some normative fields it provides solutions different from those previously adopted under our own legislation, thus requiring modifications to be made. 

The major developments of the Preliminary Draft of the Partial Amendment of Law 17/2001 on Brands, include a change in the means of defining the intangible asset submitted for registration purposes. Current legislation requires that the distinguishing sign submitted can be represented graphically although, according to the draft, it is sufficient for the sign to be capable of being represented on the brand register, without specifying the means used. This is a matter of particular importance for the very intangible nature of the object under protection and due to the erga omnes effects arising from registration. For this reason it is required that this representation allows not only the authorities, but also the general public to determine the object of protection to be given to the holder. in order to do this, the representation, following the terms established by the European Court of Justice, will have to be clear, precise, self-contained, easily accessible, intelligible, durable and objective. This modification will allow applicants to use available technology in the representation of the sign and for it to be the most appropriate for the purposes mentioned. This therefore presents significant challenges with regard to new types of brands, such as olfactory, gustatory trademarks, or holograms, for example.

With regard to prohibitions of registration, there are no substantial changes.

In relation to absolute prohibitions there is a systematisation of prohibitions in terms of denominations of origin, traditional terms for wines and traditional guaranteed specialities, referring directly to both EU and national legislation, in order to avoid possible errors of interpretation. There is a further prohibition that prevents the registration of marks that consist of or reproduce, in their essential elements, the name of a previous plant variety.

With regard to prohibitions of registration, the main change lies in the removal of the distinction between a well-known brand and a leading brand, creating a single category – in Spain the leading brand – regardless of whether it is a Spain Brand, or a leading EU brand. As with Law 17/2001, there does not need to be a risk of confusion between conflicting brands for there to be incompatibility for registration. This does not affect the products or services of the brand whether or not they are similar to that trademark in comparison with those that protect a previous leading brand, provided that there is identity or similarity between the trademarks and there is intent to obtain an unfair advantage with the mark of reputation of the earlier trademark or when the use of the new mark could be detrimental to the distinctive character or reputation in question. There is an additional prohibition on access to the register of those trademarks that are incompatible with denominations of origin or protected geographical indications. This measure aims to ensure that this ground for refusal is objectionable in certain Member States via opposition, regardless of whether it should also be examined ex offcio.

In connection with procedure, the main change to be found lies in opposition, regulating in detail the legal standing for formulation according to which an appeal is based on absolute or relative prohibitions, specifically the legitimacy of the licensees. The legislation also regulates proof of use: an applicant for registration against which an opposition has been lodged has the right to require the opponent to prove the use of the previous listings on which the opposition is based. If there is no demonstrable use of the trademark, proof of the existence of causes justifying this non-usage must be provided.

With regard to the procedure for renewal of registration it is provided that, in cases of full renewal of the brand, payment of the renewal fee can be considered to constitute the application for renewal. In this way, the Administration may adopt measures to expedite the process.

Another of the main differences in the preliminary draft lies in the direct authority granted to the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office to declare trademarks null and void, notwithstanding the acknowledgement of the possibility of lodging a claim for annulment through a court by way of a counter-claim for an action for infringement. Furthermore, there is detailed regulation of the legal standing to request these actions, and guidelines are laid down for the administrative procedure, which will be further developed in subsequent legislation. The draft also regulates the possibility of requiring proof of use of the trademark on the part of the previous trademark holder, as well as the legal consequences of failure to use it. With regard to the effects of declaration of expiry there is also a change in that these go back to the date of application for administrative expiry or the date of the counter-claim, as applicable, notwithstanding any earlier date having been established in the decision or ruling.

These are the main new aspects of this preliminary draft, which shall enter into force by 14 January 2019. However, the direct authority of the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office over applications for invalidation and expiry of trademarks will not enter into force until 14 January 2023.

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Ignacio R. Sierra is responsible for the Group’s corporate area, which includes among others, institutional and development activities and social responsibility and corporate communication projects. He is also an Executive for the Cortefiel Group Companies and Subsidiaries.

He is currently the Chairman and spokesman before the European Commission and the European Parliament for the European Branded Clothing Alliance, an association that includes the major global textile distribution brands (Nike, H&M, Inditex, Uneven, Levi’s, Ralph Lauren, V F Corporation and Grupo Cortefiel among others) present or based in continental Europe, with headquarters in Brussels. He is also a member of the Board of Directors and chairman of the CSR Committee for ANGED, the trade associate for large distribution companies, which includes companies such as El Corte Inglés, Carrefour, Alcampo, Apple Stores, Eroski, Leroy Merlin, Ikea and Grupo Cortefiel, among others. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Leading Brands of Spain Forum, a public-private partnership for the development and internationalisation of Leading Brands of Spain, and on its Strategy Committee.

Ignacio Sierra is a Law Graduate, Executive MBA from IE Business School and Financial Analyst. He began his professional career in business at Mapfre Group in 1993, before joining Grupo Cortefiel in the year 2000. He is a UPM PhD candidate, and teaches and tutors at Universities and Business Schools in the areas of strategy, internationalisation, M&A, financial communication and fashion, and CSR.

Grupo Cortefiel is one of the leading brands in fashion distribution in Europe. What do you think are the major milestones along the way?

Being a group that consolidates the management and distribution of its own brands from an industry with vertical integration.

What are the competitive advantages of the Group over its rivals? And what is your strategy for differentiating yourselves from the competition?

Our strategy of self-management of our brands in multi-format, with common core services with a model of operational efficiency and advanced logistics.

You are present in more than 90 countries with over 2,000 points of sale around the world. What export model do you follow and why? 

Basically, we distribute to our own stores in Europe and large strategic markets such as Russia and Mexico, where we partner with regional master franchisees. In the rest of the world we use professional master franchisees.

What criteria does the company use to select its export markets?

Positioning of our brands, market opportunity and the right partner or profitability for our own stores.

The Group has five brands. What strategy is followed by each of them? Are they based on common or differentiated strategies?

The brand strategy and everything related to fashion and customers for Cortefiel, Springfield, Pedro del Hierro, Women’s Secret or Fifty Factory are fully independent. But operational business management and the value chain are supported in the Group, which is the supplier of the central services and the management of purchases, people and investment.

How important is the online sales channel for the Group? What percentage does it contribute to the total sales of the brands?

It is vital in order to have a single channel competitive supply, which completely closes our customer connection. All of our brands are operating digitally both in Spain and overseas, with double-digit growth and an average market share for the sector.

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David G. Natal – Global Director of Consumer Engagement at LLORENTE & CUENCA

With a citizen that evolves with increasing speed and some organisations that find change difficult, the gap between brands and consumers is growing every day.

In a context of post-demographic and post-transactional consumerism, in which we are restricted by the economy of attention, we have developed a taste for personalisation and the ephemeral. We call for transparency in organisations and both entertainment and information, and the global and the local, or offline and theonline tend to converge. In the meantime, brands are still engaged in the search for the Holy Grail of engagement, and sometimes forget that to achieve this, it is necessary to have a (r)evolution of communication and marketing, which involves responding to various challenges.

  1. PHYGITAL or how to create an experience in which the digital and the physical are only one.

Phenomena such as the Amazon Go beta put us in front of a future retail model in which the physical and digital converge. As consumers, we demand an integral experience in which the physical needs to take on aspects of the digital, such as immediacy and disintermediation, while digital will need to adapt to our spatial requirements through the use of virtual, augmented or mixed reality.

  1. Storydoing or are we able to create stories with the communities that will provide value?

Beyond telling stories, the advantage is increasingly on the side of brands that are able to create them in order to contribute value to their communities. Historical examples such as Creators Project by Intel and Vice, Red Bull Music Academy by Red Bull or the scholarships We are dying to live in Aquarius, are proof that when brands are committed to generating value for their communities, almost always it is a win-win situation.

  1. Smart Data or how do we structure the data to pre-empt needs or solve problems?

Over and above the buzzword Big Data, brands will have to understand that the data is well structured and is an inexhaustible source of knowledge about the consumer. This will mean that we will not be able to delegate management exclusively to figures such as the Data Analyst, but others, such as the Director of Marketing, will be increasingly involved in the structuring of data that aimsto improve the customer experience.

  1. Artificial Intelligence, or how do we integrate the emotional dimension of our company in a context of efficiency?

Kevin Kelly, editor of Wired, says that whenever machines can replace humans, they will do so if the focus of the activity is to seek efficiency. This renders us as limited human resources in activities where efficiency is not the most decisive factor, such as creativity or innovation. In this context, brands that are already using artificial intelligence in matters ranging from home automation to algorithms, including chatbots, will have to find a way not to lose their emotional dimension along the way.

  1. Immersive content or what brand experience do we want our consumer to have?

Faced with a virtual reality focusing on the world of entertainment that blocked our vision and limited our movements, the past year marked the beginning of the era of integration. The successful development of HoloLens or Pokemon Go are just a few signs of immersive technologies that add value by converging the experience of reality with the potential of the digital.

  1. Advocacy,or how can we get communities to be involved and recommend us?

Over and above tangential topics such as the depletion of the paid influencers model, the real challenge for brands is to be able to mobilise brand ambassadors that share their values and promote conversation. In this regard, employees are still the great asset of credibility to be developed in many companies.

  1. Innovation for ecosystems and not for devices, or how do we move ahead to deliver real value to the user experience?

Faced with the tide of apps and developments for devices of the past few years, innovation focuses more each day on improving the ecosystems of consumption. Brands such as Netflix, where innovation flows horizontally, are an example of a model searching for a constant upgrade of user experience, over the device on which it take place.

  1. Branded Entertainment or how was entertainment the window of attention that we wanted and had not seen?

Having overcome the hype of branded content and the fallacy of “content is king”, the discussion is focusing more and more on entertainment, not only as a customer service network, but even, in the case of brands like Lego, Amazon or Red Bull, as a business model.

  1. Instant micro-content, or is the future of companies to promote content or frameworks of meaning?

With millions of users generating fleeting content every day on platforms such as Instagram Stories, the question we have to ask ourselves is whether in fact brands will become the major platforms of content of the future or whether they will be generating frameworks of meaning, in other words, grouping conversation.

  1. Purpose, or why we do what we do and how it can improve the world?

The tenth challenge is in fact the first and foremost. The necessary definition of the WHY of brands is essential, as has been demonstrated in cases such as the recent success of Lego, to be able to articulate a purpose built ‘with’ their consumers and not ‘for’ them.

The capacity for brands to become the brands of tomorrow will depend on their ability to respond to some or all of these challenges.

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Miguel Angel Martínez Olague is an Aeronautical Engineer from ETSIA (1987), completing his training with an MBA at FDC (Brazil).

He began his professional career in 1988 at GMV, where he worked as a project engineer, project manager and team manager, mainly in the area of satellite navigation. In 1995 he was appointed Director of GMV Systems, with the goal of creating the GMV subsidiary devoted to the development of intelligent transport systems. He remained in this position until 1998.

After a period of three years in the telecommunications sector, first at Telefónica Celular-Brasil and later at Iberdrola (Brazil and Spain), he returned to GMV as Corporate Director of Business Development, Marketing and Communication in April 2002. With the aim of consolidating the line of activity in the field of Intelligent Transport Systems, in mid-2016 Martínez Olague was appointed Director General of Intelligent Transport Systems.

What are the main sources of differentiation for a company such as GMV?

The basis for the competitive strategy of GMV is the excellence of our products and services. Our goal is to provide solutions that others do not have, with the maximum level of performance and quality. It is this strategy that has allowed us to become the world’s first provider of satellite control centres and that means we lead other industries such as Defence, Cybersecurity or Intelligent Transport Systems.

The group of companies that belong to GMV share a common mission: the improvement of customer processes and operations through technologically advanced solutions, providing clients with made-to-measure services and solutions. This forces us to constantly innovate our products and services. Our employees, our operational model and our business culture is intended to ensure that each customer receives exactly what they need.

If we think about the sources that make us stand out, first I would mention talent. Our ability to attract and maintain an excellent team of professionals is absolutely essential. Secondly, I would mention the technologies and know-how that we have treasured for our 30+ year history, and our work in R&D. Thirdly, I would mention our way of doing things. At GMV we have developed a method of doing things, which ensures a high level of quality. Finally, there are our culture and values, the true pillar that guides us in our daily tasks.

What is the role of the brand?

If we analyse it coldly, none of the sources mentioned above is really a fixed, inimitable asset for the company. People are free to seek new challenges at other companies. Access to technology and know-how is increasingly easy, and maintaining exclusivity of knowledge is increasingly complicated. Brand, however, is an asset for the company, intangible, indeed, but the ability to generate competitive advantages, to synthesise our offer and our promise as a supplier is really very tangible and, unlike the above, it belongs 100% to the company, is difficult to imitate and is legally protected against copying.

For a company like ours, which offers highly complex technological solutions to large companies and institutions, the brand not only facilitates entry to new markets and the creation of new business opportunities, it also makes us more competitive to build confidence and facilitate a favourable assessment of a decision-maker who is very risk averse and reluctant to rely on a little-known provider. Our brand is an immediate synthesis of the attributes, benefits and values that set us apart from the rest.

But in addition, the brand and the values behind it are an essential guide that assures us at all times that all our staff, in all their interactions with customers, respond to a common pattern of professionalism and quality.

Is the same brand used for each of the sectors where the Group operates? Why?

Initially, GMV operated only in the space market. In the 1990s we began our strategy of diversification and we started to work in other sectors, the creation of new subsidiaries with differentiated brand identity. Furthermore, each product had its own brand without maintaining a connection with the corporate brands of each subsidiary. The result was a structure with a multitude of brands of all kinds, which as a whole did not result in a powerful brand. So, in 2006 we decided to review our brand architecture and we opted for a single corporate brand, the role of which was to encompass all the products and services in each line of business, strengthening the cohesion of the company and projecting a single corporate image for each of our subsidiaries.

There were several reasons that led us to take this decision. On the one hand, a strong corporate brand brings together all the products and services of the company. Our offer is very complex, and is undergoing constant evolution and development. We believed that a single corporate brand would be a powerful tool for promoting our portfolio of products and services and would function as an excellent calling card for new products, without the need to invest in the brand of all of them, which would require a huge effort.

On the other hand, a unique brand is more economically efficient. By concentrating our efforts on creating a single brand, we achieved economies of scale, and were also able to more easily cross the threshold below which hard work in branding becomes completely ineffective.

With this decision, each subsidiary, every service, every product, every project or action, “adds to” the construction of the same relevant brand, which provides immediate value to our offer.

GMV’s overseas turnover is 65%. What are the keys to your success in the internationalisation process?

I believe that we are a rather unique case. GMV was created in 1984, as a company with 100% of its turnover from outside Spain. At that time, GMV worked exclusively in the space sector, a market that was, and continues to be mainly international, but with the peculiarity that you do not need to have permanent international presence.

GMV’s true process of internationalisation, understood as the deployment of international presence, with subsidiaries and offices in multiple countries, came later, when we started to develop projects that did require an international presence. This was the case when we started to work for NASA, which led us to create a subsidiary in the US; or when we started to implement systems for city public transport in countries such as Poland, Malaysia, Mexico, etc.

In a business like GMV, the success of our projects depends on the talent of the team in their ability to work to the same standard of quality, assume the same values and the same distinguishing marks, in short, the same brand.

In our internationalisation, we have been able to export the identity of our model as a company to other countries. In most of these countries we have started from scratch, and we have been able to incorporate local talent, without which it is impossible to succeed. Even in different cultures the essential values of our brand are presented in the same way. This guarantees that GMV is GMV wherever it goes.

What challenges and opportunities does GMV face in its international expansion?

As I mentioned earlier, the main challenge is to be able to maintain the essence of GMV and to be sure that a project developed at an international subsidiary is run to the same standards, and that our client perceives those values.

When you enter a market in a different country, a local partner can be a strategic ally, helping to accelerate the process, but there is a risk of your offer never being transferred to the customer with your brand values. For this reason the organic model, although slower, is sometimes much better.

I believe it is a mistake to think of international expansion only as an opportunity to grow in the market. For us, the inclusion of international talent is essential. There are very good professionals in Spain, but we are competing globally, and the ability to employ brilliant staff from other countries is essential for our future. This is probably the most important opportunity to be gained by internationalisation.

In a company that integrates mainly highly qualified professional profiles, how can you help the brand to attract and retain international talent?

Today, a recent graduate of engineering, physics or mathematics who has a bright academic record looks not only to the national employment market, he or she aspires to work in a technology company that offers an exciting project and may be located in any part of the world.

GMV, like other technology companies, is immersed in a global competition, in a race to have the best talent, wherever it comes from; that is the key to our business. In this competition, brand is far more powerful than is sometimes believed. A relevant and prestigious brand that projects appropriate values can be a decisive factor for a bright person to notice a vacancy at your company, deciding to become a part of it or wanting to continue to work with you. We all like to feel proud of the company we work for and for it to be well-known.

What are the projects that you feel most proud of?

 At GMV we do really amazing things. It would be too much to list all the projects of which we are proud. In fact this is one of the factors that explains why so many excellent professionals are still with us. Working on the construction of the European satellite navigation system, Galileo; having the opportunity to participate in the development of complex systems for space missions; protecting a large bank from a sophisticated cyber-attack; working on the development of an advanced control system for the Sydney tramways or design boarding equipment for the Airbus 400M; these are exciting activities that are not easy to find in other companies.

Cybersecurity is a topic that is the order of the day. What are the future trends in this area? How is GMV facing these trends?

We are going to witness growing concern about the threats posed by cyber attacks on companies, institutions and individuals. We are already seeing how fraud, theft, extortion, or attacks on institutions and even entire nations, are practices that find in the digital world the opportunity to materialise in a more surreptitious manner.

Organised crime, terrorist organisations and even hostile governments are increasingly investing in sophisticated mechanisms for cyber-attacks. This situation is exacerbated by the level of sophistication that these can reach and easy access to database technologies. For example, today a criminal can steal money relatively easily and safely, from an ATM that has previously been infected with malware, developed specifically for this purpose, and that is available online.

The increase of these practices will lead to the need for specific legislation and regulation to ensure that essential services or strategic assets of national economies are properly protected.

GMV has been working in this field since the beginning of the Internet in the 1990s. The first internet firewall implemented in Spain at that time was made by GMV. Since then, we have evolved a great deal. We not only have a team of highly specialised experts that has worked for many years in this field, but we continuously invest in the development of new products and technologies in the field of cybersecurity. This is the case, for example, of our product Checker, which is providing cybersecurity for tens of thousands of ATMS at a number of banks around the world. We are currently developing a new product for cybersecurity for the increasingly complex and critical digital systems in cars, which we are convinced will be fundamental to protect our vehicles in the near future.

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In 1956, when he was 21 years old, Gabriel Escarrer Juliá founded what is now Meliá Hotels International, when he bought and managed a 60-room hotel on the island of Majorca, his birthplace, and where the business, one of the most successful hotel groups in the world, still has its head offices. Over the six decades that he has been CEO, the Group first consolidated its leadership of the Spanish market, birthplace of holiday tourism in Europe, subsequently expanding to the Caribbean and South-east Asia, in the 1990s extending its strategy to urban hotels in Spain, Europe, Asia and America. This is a vision that has afforded the Group recognition as one of the driving forces behind the internationalisation of Spanish business, and one of the most important figures in international tourism.

The Company has also grown via the acquisition of other chains: in 1984 the business founded by Escarrer purchased two of the largest European hotel chains of the time, Hotasa and Meliá. This was a key step forward in the history of the Group, completed in 2000 with the takeover of Tryp, and later the German group Innside. Its customer-orientated focus and its vision led the Group to build up, at an early stage, a large portfolio of hotel brands intended for different customer profiles, which today is one of the greatest strengths of Meliá.

In 1996, the Company was listed on the stock exchange, marking a new era of growth, reinforced with subsequent strategies, and under the management of the second generation of the family, a deep cultural transformation began in the Group, in order to face the new 21st century business setting.

Having recovered strongly from the great financial crisis that shook the sector from 2008 to 2013, and ensuring that the Company was in the best possible hands, Gabriel Escarrer Juliá retired from his executive position in December 2016, with his son Gabriel Escarrer Jaume taking over as Vice Chairman and CEO. The founder of the company is now Non-Executive Chairman, presiding over the Group’s Board of Directors and Group Shareholders’ Board.

Meliá Hotels International has grown from its first hotel in Palma de Mallorca into one of the largest hotel groups in the world. What do you consider to have been the keys to its success along the way?

I think that in general, the fact that it is Company with a large family background – although we have traded on the stock market since 1996 and are listed on Ibex (the only company from the tourist industry on this index) – has helped us to maintain our long-term vision, and the values that have sustained our strategy. In short, our leadership and commitment to our people.

If I had to summarise the keys to our success in three factors, first I would mention innovation: our Group has seen continuous growth for 6 decades and today we can say that it is stronger than ever, thanks to the fact that we have never stopped innovating and reinventing ourselves as a company, at the same time keeping our corporate values and Mediterranean culture intact.

Secondly, one of the main keys to this 60-year evolution was our early, and intense internationalisation (from Bali in the 1980s, to the Caribbean, Europe and Asia-Pacific in the 1990s, the Middle East and USA from 2010… Present today in 42 countries) that has allowed us to grow, learn from other cultures, and minimise the risk of exposure to just one, or a mere handful of markets.

Thirdly, it has been fundamental to have a wide portfolio of brands for all segments and customer profiles (Paradisus, Gran Meliá, ME by Meliá, Meliá, Innside by Meliá, Tryp or Sol), brands that are developing to keep ahead of new customer demands, and that today are the key to standing out in a competitive environment, not just the hotel industry, but with new ground-breaking business models.

You are investing heavily in the Asia-Pacific region. What are your goals in this area in the short, medium and long term?

Asia is a huge market, both as a destination (for in-bound tourism) and from the out-bound perspective, or “supplier” of tourists to other regions, such as Europe and America, where Meliá has hotels. It is a market that is growing at an exceptional rate in terms of the number of international tourists, and whose domestic markets are also multiplying as the middle classes are “hatching”. For this reason, for the past three years we have been reinforcing our corporate structure in the region, with a central office in Shanghai with almost 50 people, and we have significantly strengthened our expansion, with our 2013 portfolio due to have multiplied five-fold by 2022.

Meliá has the experience, and a series of competitive strengths for successful growth in the region: on one hand, although in some countries such as China we are “newcomers”, in countries such as Indonesia we have been operating for 30 years now, as in 1986 we opened our first international hotel in Bali, the Meliá Bali, and since then we have continuously increased our presence and our links with Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand and, more recently, China.

In addition, the nature of our company means that it has other characteristics that “facilitate” expansion in Asia, such as the fact that we are a family business – in a region where large family groups have a strong influence – our clear vocation as hotel managers (compared with other large international companies more focused on franchise models) – and our powerful service culture, which fits perfectly with the hospitable and welcoming spirit of many of these places.

Our mid-term goals are to double the number of hotels by 2018, in a selective way with strategic criteria, consolidating our position of leadership in holiday and urban leisure hotels (the so-called bleisure sector), and to earn recognition and a reputation on the Asian markets, where trust is essential for doing business. Specifically, furthermore, as international leader in the holiday resorts segment, our goal is to develop resorts under our brand Paradisus by Meliá, in holiday destinations in China and South-east Asia. Until now this brand has been based exclusively at Caribbean beach resorts.

In which other markets are you planning to expand over the next five years?

Our group is currently present in 42 countries, and in general, our policy is to consolidate our presence and brand recognition in our large traditional markets, and increase growth in more dynamic emerging markets, as well as in markets where we have no historical presence, such as the English-speaking Caribbean or North America.

Our expansion map therefore defines a set of priorities in each of the strategic regions: for Europe, the goal will be to consolidate the portfolio of our top “bleisure” brands, Meliá and Innside by Meliá, in major cities. In South America, we plan to strengthen our presence in major beach and urban destinations in countries such as Brazil, Colombia, Chile and Peru, continue growing in the Mexican Caribbean, and in North America we plan to expand our portfolio in cities with a Latin area, in particular New York and Miami. In the Middle East and Africa we plan to continue to grow in Arab countries and particularly in those in the Gulf, and Northern Africa, mainly via brands such as Meliá, Innside, Gran Meliá or ME by Meliá.

Overall, our pipeline (signed hotels in the process of incorporation or opening) includes 62 hotels with over 16,500 rooms, distributed across the regions mentioned above.

Gran Meliá Hotels & Resorts, Paradisus Resorts, ME by Meliá, Meliá Hotels & Resorts, Innside by Meliá, Sol Hotels & Resorts are some of the brands that make up Meliá Hotels International. What are the pros and cons for the company of working with different brands?

The customer profile of today is more varied than ever, not only in terms of demographics and age, such as the baby-boomers, Gen-Y, Millennials or Gen-Z,, but also in terms of different well-defined “psychographic” groups, characterised by their attitudes and lifestyles, such as techie customers, empty-nesters (mature couples travelling alone once more after their children have left home), clubbers, LGBT collectives, etc.

For this reason, the key today is hyper-segmentation: we need to be able to offer a different, personalised product for each customer profile, with an appropriate value proposal. At Meliá we have achieved this through our portfolio of six hotel brands (Paradisus by Meliá, Gran Meliá, ME by Meliá, Meliá, Innside, and Sol Hotels) Our future strategy tends towards reinforcing the portfolio of upscale brands and luxury brands in comparison to mid-scale brands, and in general, we have a wiser and more demanding client base, who know just what they want, and who tend to trust and remain loyal to a specific brand. Finally, the predominant trend in urban hotels today is the so-called bleisure customer, who combines the urban business experience with leisure, extends visits, and demands a more complex and sophisticated offer, in which some of our brands, such as Meliá and Innside by Meliá, are specialists.

There are therefore countless advantages in having different and powerful brands in terms of product differentiation and customer loyalty, especially the higher the quality and distance from the low-cost sector, which basically works with “rooms” as just another commodity. Brands are also essential if we want to compete with the “disruptive” accommodation business models, such as holiday rental websites, etc., which cannot compete with the experience and personalised services offered by our hotel brands.

What strategies do you use in order to provide a personalised service to each of your customers?

Firstly, it is important to stress the significant role of digital technology, which allows us to “customise” our value proposal for almost every client, a client who we can now get to know, and evolve with as their lifestyle and consumer profile evolves. We can anticipate their expectations, thus offering greater satisfaction, brand loyalty and profitability for hotels. Customer relations are grown as a significant asset for our company.

Secondly – and equally as important – I must say that Meliá has always been a customer-centric company, and for this reason our top corporate value is our “vocation for service”; this is a feature that our customers acknowledge and particularly value in all our brands, regardless of level or type of service. The hotel industry is based on customer care and service, and this is the main factor that adds value to the customer experience. That is why the culture service is a key element in the continuous training of our employees, including the corporate ones.

Finally, what role does new technology play in the hotel industry?

Today, technology is key to providing a better service and better tools for our customers for making bookings, but not just that: today, digitalisation marks a new paradigm in consumption, communication, etc., which as companies we need to know and integrate, by digitalising not only our sales tools, but also all our processes, our means of communicating, etc. Meliá has always been on the cutting edge of its industry, and in order to achieve this, we undertook a far-reaching project called “be more digital”, which would lay down the route map for a transition into the digital era.

Under this project, digital technology has become a central part of our strategy, for meeting our goals and strengthening our globalisation and competitiveness, but at the same time, we are convinced that our industry has always been and will continue to be a people’s industry, in which the service element cannot easily be replaced by machines.

Some hotels may replace personalised service with machines to reduce staff costs, but we believe in doing the opposite: adding value through technology and the personalisation that it allows us, to what we offer, improving customer experience and satisfaction, improving the price customers are willing to pay, and at the same time, increasing customer brand loyalty and return rate. Digitalisation has therefore become our best ally in offering an excellent, more personalised product and service.

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Chemistry graduate with doctoral studies from Madrid Autonomous University and a Masters in Nuclear Engineering and Political Sociology.

With over 30 years’ professional experience, her early career was in quality management at companies such as Initec-Bechtel, ISDEFE, Siemens Nixdorf España and Andersen Consulting.

Ms Rodríguez has worked hard on the promotion of business excellence, particularly in the healthcare sector, working with organisations such as EFQM, where she was an Advisor for the EFQM European Award for Excellence and a member of the jury for this Award in the Healthcare sector.

She has been working in Healthcare since 1996, when she founded Áliad, of which she is the Chairwoman. She is the creator of the “Excellent Health” scheme with the support of sponsorship from private clinics.

What importance is placed on the brand in the strategy of the company?

Áliad has always believed in the extraordinary importance of the brand.

Our brand is a distinguishing feature of our business group that makes a decisive contribution to our positioning, above all, in a highly specialised market such as ours.

From the beginning, we have been investing in branding in all our activities, both in the corporate image for courses, where the brand is visible in different ways (logo, corporate colours, educational material, original images and designs, etc.) and also in consulting activities, where in addition to the above, the brand is evident in a particular, highly characteristic methodology.

Brand strengthening has led us to create reinforcement tools such as meetings, merchandising, social networks, etc.

For us branding is not just a logo and a corporate image, it is a way of doing business. This personal identification in the form of our brand makes our services and in particular our products recognisable as associated to Áliad, and has even protected our intellectual property because our brand is so well-known.

What competitive advantages of doing business with Áliad, as opposed to its rivals, would you like to mention?

Undeniable quality and impeccable service, even at the expense of profitability.

We always work with skilled specialists, in specialist fields, and we take care of every minute detail. In each activity, our company and its brand are under scrutiny.

In what markets are you present and in what way?

We operate in the market of training – for employees and the unemployed – and in healthcare sector consulting and related sectors (social care, food, leisure, retail, etc.)

Which markets have the most potential for the future?

The market of information technology and new social networking. Under Healthcare, the anti-ageing and health promotion market.

What promotional strategy is the brand pursuing in the international markets?

The economic crisis has had a considerable effect on the chances of investing in international markets. Considering that our products are services, consulting requires significant investment for internationalisation and our training service is conditioned by the difficulty in finding a reliable partner. However, we are investing in online training.

What are the challenges facing the company over the next five years?

Making use of the economic recession to start growing again and enter surrounding markets interested in healthcare, benefiting from our experience and specialisation as a way in which to extend the promotion of good health in our society as a means of facing the challenge of our ageing population, which is one of the major problems in European society. In order to resolve this problem, which affects not only our generation, but in particular that of our children, companies can play a fundamental role. We have developed a product and methodology based on 20 years’ experience and large-scale European innovation projects, which we will launch and promote soon, for development over the next five years. We hope to have as much success as we have had with our ‘Excellent Health’ scheme, which now totals over 200 projects involving 100,000 people from all over Spain.

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Ignacio Ochoa – CEO of Branward

There are solid, in-depth studies on the steps that need to be taken by a company and its brand for international expansion, and others that reflect the key factors that companies consider before using this development model.

This field has been thoroughly covered and needs no further detail from me.

I am working on the premise that there are countless variables of market, sectors, types of source and destination country, cultures, company history, reputation and brand recognition. In my opinion international expansion is not, therefore, a sole discipline requiring a method, but rather a number of methods adapted to each specific situation.

For Spanish brands there is a specific characteristic that is not taken as much into account as it should be. Nevertheless, of course, what I want to share with you in the next paragraph does not apply to all sectors because diversity is infinite. But it does apply, in particular, to services and consumer goods. Keys to our economy.

In the modern world that began to develop in the 1970s, the international growth of brands of services and consumer goods has been catapulted partly due to the experience obtained by visitors to the source country of the brand. Tourism (and the resulting information conveyed by word of mouth) has enabled us to know and experience an infinity of brands that had barely left their own countries. This has meant that, before arriving in other countries, they were already known, and welcome. There are too many examples to mention.

Spain receives over eighty million visitors (many very loyal) each year, and is an ideal and profitable platform to start international expansion from the bottom up. Spanish brands have an opportunity truly within their reach, for visitors to our country to know, appreciate and value in full. We need to win over our customers and brand apostles, ensuring that these visitors find in our products and services an unforgettable brand experience while in our country, on our territory, when we have them close by.

We should get our brand and its reputation to travel before undertaking formal expansion. We should do it from here.

In my own field I think it is important to note that the considerable expansion of our consumer brands has a better chance of success if we primarily concentrate our efforts on winning over our target audience: visitors to the country aged under 30. Those who have not yet settled into customs and consumer habits. Those who are more open to new experiences. This does not mean ignoring the rest.

A second point of interest:

The huge expansion, particularly of American brands, in consultancy services, auditing, legal, advertising, financial services and others, is because they have been driven by companies or brands of goods and services in the same country as their international expansion. For example, American brands in Europe contract service companies of the same nationality. When they go to China, a more recent phenomenon, they do exactly the same. In short, they feed off each other and expand at the same. A perfect mechanism that is not so commonly used by Spanish businesses. Not even inside Spain. And it is a missed opportunity because these Spanish service companies are as competitive as foreign ones, and it is the ideal moment to send our brands from all sectors all over the world.

Finally, a very valuable example:

Just a few days ago I was a guest at a party in Madrid, held by the Ambassador of a major country for Spanish guests, to mark the birthday of its head of state. Despite the official nature of the event, all the food and drink products served were offered with their logos clearly on display, and they were brands from the host country. Not just that. The ambassador himself, in his speech, was very proud to be offering us those brands. There were a number of brands already well-known and established in Spain, but others were completely new for us. I thought it was an excellent lesson.

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Ignacio Ochoa has devoted his entire professional career to brand management. In 1980 he joined the Customer Service department at J. Walter Thompson in Madrid, reaching the position of Customer Services manager. In 1987 he was appointed General Sub Director of Tiempo BBDO Madrid, working in a number of sectors such as banking, drinks, pharmacy, hygiene, cosmetics and crude oil. In 1991, he founded “De Federico,Valmorisco y Ochoa”, an advertising agency that became the second highest ranked Spanish agency, and was taken over by Interpublic Group in 1998. In 2003, he founded the Brand Consulting Division at BBDO Group, called BBDO Consulting. In 2007, he was appointed CEO of BBDO Spain, managing and coordinating the Group’s 10 companies in Madrid and Barcelona, reporting internationally to London and New York. In 2010 he began a sabbatical period for undertaking personal projects, and in 2014, he joined Branward as CEO and head of the Madrid office.

Ignacio also organises seminars and meetings at the Menéndez Pelayo International University, the BBVA Foundation and other entities. He has also been a speaker at a number of national and international events. He is the author of several books, including: ‘Planeta marca’, ‘Esto tiene buena pinta’, ‘Pica por fuera es dentr0’ and ‘El siglo imaginario’.

“Your brand is the key asset of your company” “Your brand reputation is the guarantee of your success”; these are some of the sentences that come up immediately on your website. Why do you think that brand and reputation are so important for a business? How does Branward look after its image?

In short we need to look at brand and reputation from a corporate perspective. If we consider brand to be not only the graphic and audiovisual identity of a company, but everything that represents it – origin, history, people, products, culture, communication, behaviour, values, positioning and personality… I think that it is easy to see why brand is an asset of the utmost importance.

For me, reputation is the moral capital of a brand. It is what enables it to develop fully in harmony with the society in which it operates. Having a rich reputation means multiplying our market opportunities. An excellent reputation is worth much more than money.

For Branward, reputation is managed along three lines, which we call our three C’s: Culture, Conduct and Communication.

Very briefly: principles to believe in, a clear definition of who we are and who we want to be, and a correct communication of what we do.

What are Branward’s competitive advantages over its rivals?

Our clients say that there are basically four advantages: Commitment, Collaboration, Flexibility and Innovation. And in addition to these, analytical depth and support for innovation and creativity.

You are a very active company in terms of publications (guides, reports, books, blog content…) What content strategy do you follow and what is your objective?

This is directly connected to one of our three C’s – Communication, the correct communication of our activity. The strategy is very simple, based on the firm conviction that in order to advance and progress it is important to share knowledge with everyone: students, doctors, professional and amateur enthusiasts, clients and suppliers, private companies and public institutions…Everyone. Always with the necessary discretion, so as not to breach confidentiality.

You present yourselves as a brand with “international expertise”. What are your key milestones in internationalisation?

Branward has offices in Argentina and correspondents in the main countries in the “western” market. We work for clients with products in a wide variety of countries, from Czechia to Japan.

International expansion with company offices is slow and expensive, but very viable, particularly if we have the support of Spanish brands operating overseas. American, British, French, Korean brands…they always do.

What are the challenges and opportunities facing the brand both in Spain and abroad?

Our challenges and opportunities have been quite consistent over the years. And this brings me back to our three main principles: Culture, Conduct and Communication. So, the focus has shifted in line with the evolution of other key principles: technology and social trends. And these are evolving faster every day. Constant attention or observation and analysis is therefore essential.

Finally, as an expert inbranding, what do your believe are the future trends in the field? How is Branward facing these trends?

The paradox is that the future is consuming the present faster than ever before. The short-term future is therefore our yesterday. I can list some possible trends but I can also say that tomorrow they won’t be exactly the same: IoT, human life expectancy, robotics, mental telecommunications, connected humans, neuroimaging, real time translation, avatars, synthetic organisms… Many of these are already happening on a smaller scale.

Branward is facing these trends with its own model, which we are sharing with those who want to hear. It is called Exponential Evolution Agent. It is available for all FMRE members.

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Iván Díaz González – Strategy Director at Brand Union

New machines for faster production, better professionals for greater efficiency, new spaces to grow our new production centre, and even new trucks to reach further.

In our businesses, it is sometimes very obvious , that we need to invest in what we do to continue to grow, and in order to remain being competitive.

Sometimes we need to invest to improve our reality as a company. So, why do you hesitate when investing in branding?

If your product or service is the way you relate to others, your brand is the way you matter more to them then others. Because, at the end of the day, we are what matters to those around us.

We are the best quality, the most trustworthy, the best answer, the most empathetic, the most creative, have the best attitude, are the best gateway to the future…

Our brand defines us and helps us to improve the impact we have on others. It helps us to generate proprietary value. It helps us to bring about a decision.

Brands have the capacity to have a positive impact on our businesses. To generate value over and above what we sell, and to build up significant meaning in somebody’s life.

Our brand allows us to give a different dimension to what we do. We may do the same as everyone else, but we can give it a different meaning. We can connect with them differently, build up unique relationships, and find opportunities where our products have not yet reached.

While “what” is what you do, “how” you do it is what makes the difference. And that “how” is your brand.

Understanding your brand as something tangible, just like an item you can handle, shape, hold and touch in the form of its effect on your results, is to understand that the machine that bottles your soft drink is as important as the engineering behind the design of your products or the television advertisement that shows you to the world.

Brand is a form of competition. It is a way of being. It is a way of mattering.

In the end, your brand is income, not an expense. Because it allows to sell more, or better, than others. It allows you to have more or better demand, more or better talent, to generate more or better loyalty, and to connect more, or better, with your customers.

We don’t know of any Managing Director who would consider not investing in their product because that it is what they sell. Yet interestingly we can see how many toy with not investing their brand, which is ‘who’ sells.

Understanding my brand as a tool that lets me be more competitive is to understand that just as our machinery requires investment, so does our brand.

Because investing in branding is to invest in being what you want to be.

When you decide to buy a better machine to make better products, you are investing in your brand. When you decide to pay for employee training courses, you are investing in your brand. When you decide to improve customer service, you are investing in your brand. 

Every Euro spent on a company is an investment in its brand.

So, does an investment add something, or take something away? That is for management to decide. When you spend a Euro, do you know how to spend it and where? Do you know if you need faster, or more precise machinery? Do you know if you need a call centre in Latin America or in Toledo? Do you know if you need a better product or better customer service?

Brand is not an investment, it is a direction that guides your investment.

If today you are spending a Euro on your company and you have not paid attention to your brand, you may be spending in the wrong place, or at least not in the optimal way.

The brand is the sum of everything we do, and that includes everything we spend. Don’t consider investing in your brand, because it is not an expense. It is simply a recommendation that indicates where you need to put your money and how you should do so.

After all, in a complex world of equals, we want to stand out from the crowd and this includes being different in “what” we do, or in “how” we tell others about it, through our brand.

Brand is not a logo, a colour, or an advertising method. Brand is the sum of everything we do, of all our behaviours, our employees culture, how we dress and even how we talk, the experience someone has with us. It is all brand.

If you have a company, you have a brand. The difference is how it is managed. So, it is important to pay attention to your brand in order to make it as efficient as possible. Because brand can have a positive impact on your business.

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With a strongly business-orientated training at the IESE Business School – University of Navarra and the IE Business School in Madrid, if there is one word that describes Daniel Redondo Esteban, it is “Entrepreneur”. At the age of just 24 he founded MADISON Experience MARKETING with a business concept based on customer services. 25 years on, the company has over 1,800 employees and 5 different business lines offering comprehensive marketing services to clients. A qualitative leap that emerged from the spirit of innovation and creativity that Daniel transmits to his company.

His passion: sport and sporting values, true values. Team spirit, competitive and collaborative spirit. These are the identifying traits that he applies to his business which includes sports marketing in its areas of activity.

Madison has four different lines of business: Madison Agency, Madison BPO Contact Centre, Madison Market Research and Madison Sports Marketing. How is brand image managed? Do you use the same strategy for all of them, or are they run separately?

Our brand image is based on a single strategy that has positioned us as a benchmark group at national and international level in marketing services. It is true that it often not easy to express the particularities of each business area under the same umbrella, but our differential value lies in our multi-disciplinary nature, and it allows us to offer end to end services and solutions for our clients’ customer journey. Our philosophy is to create positive experiences that make the difference.

What are the competitive advantages of your company over its rivals? And what is your strategy for differentiating yourselves from the competition?

The main competitive advantage at Madison is precisely the make-up of the group as it revolves around four business units where each one works in its own competitive environment allowing us to undertake global projects. Also, in line with current trends in digital transformation, as an innovative company, we have created Digitel TS, a company offering digital contract solutions.

Our vision of business is always to give priority to the long term and this is why we have such a high level of customer loyalty. There are hardly any brands that only use us for a single task – almost 90% repeat year after year.

Another relevant competitive advantage valued by our customers is service and proximity. The human factor was one of our initial challenges. We needed to find the necessary talent to reach the demanding goals that we had set ourselves, and today we have great professionals who can face any challenge that may arise.

You have an office in Peru. Why did you choose that market?

Peru was the first South American country that Madison opted for and over time we it would seem we have made a good choice.

At the beginning, when we started this operation, we chose Peru because it was a relevant country in the region because of its potential and its social and economic conditions. We also saw that its market needs were perfectly in line with the lines of business that we had successfully implemented in Spain, and at that point we made the strategic decision to export. These business units, independent but complementary, are: a market research area, a call centre and a communications and events agency.

It is also important to stress the openness that Peruvian businesses have shown to the services offered by MADISON in terms of strategic approach, innovation and cost-benefit.

You also work on every continent. In which markets are you most successful?

Naturally, this is also down to Madison’s commitment to Peru and the development of the region. We have made Peru our hub for all our future LATAM operations.

We have recently opened new offices in Miraflores, from which our 150+ collaborators are working and which will allow us to improve our internal coordination and to be much more flexible in our response. Additionally, we have a brand new focus room, and two auditoria with seating for 70 and 300 people respectively.

We have a multi-disciplinary client portfolio covering practically all sectors. Our short-term objective is to continue growing with our clients, as well as serving other South American countries from Peru.

Are all your lines of business operating abroad? How?

We have been working with the major companies on the Peruvian market for the past three years. Our position is secure as we have 3 business units, independent but complementary: a market research area, a call centre and a communications and events agency.

As well as our activity in LATAM, we are running other international projects, specifically focusing on customer experience for large companies.

Also, in the field of market research we are working on projects for the tourist industry such as PromPerú and Turespaña. In this sector we have also signed an agreement with the World Tourism Organisation to work together on the ‘Visitor Experience Management’ report.

Finally, in terms of sports sponsorship we have set up the International Padel Experience by MADISON, for which this year we received an award for the best amateur circuit by WorldPadelTour.

What are the challenges and opportunities facing the company both in Spain and abroad?

Times are changing, and this change is focused on digital transformation. That is the main challenge. The internal company management processes, events, human group profiles, measurement of user experiences, client contact, contracts… everything will be digital, and we are fully aware of this.

But if anything characterises us it is our passion for innovation and our collective desire to do better. We have already started on our journey, and we are looking forward to making this challenge our closest ally.

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Carlos Pobre Menguy – Director for Overseas Trading at Crédito y Caución

In recent years, hundreds of Spanish companies have started to look for new clients abroad in order to soften the blow of the falling domestic market. Exports have therefore become one of the preferred routes for businesses to survive in a recessive context.

Despite the difficulties and risks of selling overseas, export figures have increased around fifty percent since the start of the recession. Meanwhile, the number of companies that have maintained their international sales for at least four consecutive years, with a high probability of future survival, has increased notably and represents a third of the total.

Although Spanish sales abroad primarily take place in the European Union, and the Eurozone in particular – ratifying one of the best known results in international trade such as its direct connection with distance – in recent years business owners have made considerable efforts towards diversification. Furthermore, and in spite of the increase in world competition in the search for new clients, in an environment with an explosion of new exporters from emerging countries, the apathy of traditional demand and the slowing of international trade in itself, Spanish exportation has maintained its market share.

The recovery of the Spanish economy has been due, in a considerable part to overseas trade and its main players: the 150,000 exporters, of which 500 are leading multinationals, and the 10,000 companies that have set themselves up, in one way or another, to work permanently in international markets. All of them have worked very hard to gain in competitiveness and care for the quality of their products and services, innovating and creating internationally recognised brands.

In historical terms, it seems that there is a fortunate change in trend, where the overseas sector may have shaken off its role as a mere aid to business. From a microeconomic perspective, for companies this would mean a departure from traditional presence abroad as a last resort: exporting when not enough can be sold nationally. And in macroeconomic terms, it would contribute to laying the foundations for the overseas sector to become one of the stable fundamental pillars for growth; not in vain, the participation of exported goods and services to GDP has increased by more than ten points in just six years, reaching a third, meaning that Spain has become the second largest exporter in terms of GDP among the five major EU members, ahead of France, Italy and the UK, and only behind Germany.

In short, these are notable achievements by Spanish exporters and, therefore for the economy as a whole. However, in order to successfully continue along the internationalisation route, it would be a good idea to encourage an increase in the number of stable exporters, in particular those selling over 50,000 Euros worth of goods per year – this number falls short of twenty percent – in stark contrast to companies selling less than 5,000 Euros abroad each year, which represent over half of the total. Similarly, the consolidation of what has been achieved so far in internationalisation may also be supported, on the one hand, by working harder to diversify export destinations, particularly those showing greater prospects for growth in new types of emerging media and with growing urban development and, on the other, by strengthening cooperation strategies between companies, as a means of compensating for their small size.   

Since the beginning of the recession, international trade has shown clear signs of weakness, especially in developed countries, with growth in terms of GDP below those traditionally reached. Although there is still no unanimous position about whether this is because of a conjectural or structural trend, there are a number of elements that can be identified as being behind this changed pattern in world trade. In addition to temporary factors, such as weaker demand in the European Union, the deceleration of the Chinese economy or trade sanctions, it is also worth mentioning other permanent aspects that, according to Bretton Woods, are behind half of the slowing down of international exchange.

Among the structural causes of the weakness of world trade, key factors are the increasing presence of cheaper services with less freedom of exchange in relation to goods; weakness in investments, a key aspect of trade which, as is widely known, is one of the GDP elements with the highest importation intensity; the United States’ replacement of imported fuel; the transformation process underway in the Chinese economy with goals that are less dependent on exports, investment and foreign technology, and with a relevant replacement of importation; the emergence of new technologies in the entire production process, particularly in the field of data transfer and 3D printing which make a new localisation strategy possible –, with the subsequent influx in the shortening of global value chains – and, in short, the reduction in trade of certain goods; and a protectionist tendency in an environment with increasing international competition.

In this context of sluggish world trade and high geostrategic uncertainty, it is advisable to ensure thorough management of the different international risks that may threaten the good progress of exportation operations, particularly in emerging markets. In particular, an analysis of debt risk provides huge competitive leverage that allows exporters to be safely guided in their search for reliable clients, permitting the success of sales abroad, no matter how diverse. Because, in short, exportation is income.

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Before joining Félix Solís Avantis as assistant to the National Trade Director for Food, and as International Trade Director, Félix Solís Ramos worked for renowned international companies in the distribution industry. He has a degree in Economics and Business Studies from the Autonomous University of Madrid and has an MBA from IESE in Barcelona.

Operating in more than 115 countries, Féliz Solís Avantis is a leader in the international wine sector. What are the main milestones in the company’s international expansion?

Founded in 1952, Félix Solís is a family company with vineyards in the main denominations of origin: Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Rueda, Valdepeñas, Mancha and Toro, with leading brands in each one: Viña Albali, Los Molinos, Altos de Tamaron, Blume, Castillo de Albai, Bajoz, etc.

Knowing how to diversify and enhance products in the different DOs, as well as working hard on our commercial network, has allowed us to open many doors onto the different markets and in different price segments. Félix Solís products are currently sold in over 120 countries around the world.
The company also has subsidiaries in three continents: Europe – Germany, the UK and the Czech Republic– America – two in the US –and Asia –two in China – as well as representative offices in Mexico and Japan and a project for a vineyard in Chile. This international expansion has allowed Félix Solís to position itself among the 10 main wine sellers in the world.

What are your biggest markets at the moment, and which are your future markets?

Spain, our domestic market, with a leading position in numerous categories, is still the largest market with around 40% of our turnover, something we consider to be key. Obviously, markets abroad still provide continuous growth and long term development, and we trust that before long it will represent 70% of our turnover. The strongest markets of these are the EU, the USA, Russia, China, Japan, Mexico, Ivory Coast…

 How do you manage your brand architecture?

In an atomised a market as the wine industry, the emphasis on our main brands must be complemented with controlled diversification. For this reason the company has over 1,500 finished products around the world. This is necessary as markets differ greatly and we need to know how to adapt to consumer needs.

Innovation forms part of the company’s DNA, a strategy that allows us to make the most of new trends or niche opportunities. 

 Do you operate abroad with your entire brand portfolio? How?

The portfolio available in each country is the result of in-depyh work by the commercial network which assesses, offers and builds up an appropriate product portfolio to cover all market needs, always giving priority to our main brands.

There are global brands, such as Viña Albali or Peñasol that can be found on practically every market.  

What does the Pagos del Rey Vine Museum mean to the company? 

The museum represents the return of over 50 years’ trust in our company and our wines. Through our cultural and wine tourism project in Morales de Toro (Zamora), we disseminate the tradition and culture of wine from an old winery that we have recovered as a space to stimulate the world of wine and tourism in the area. In the almost three years that have passed since we opened the Museum in February 2014, almost 35,000 people have visited our facilities; this allows us to have direct contact with the public and convey to them our company values such as tradition, history, family, environment, effort and teamwork. The museum also acts as the company image through its education, gastronomy and cultural programmes where wine plays a leading role, or just the excuse to enjoy and experience all the sensations that Félix Solís Avantis can transmit through its products.

What challenges will the company face in 2017?

Maintaining constant growth in sales with a strong focus on the main brands in each category.

To continue strengthening our own production structures in different wineries in Spain within the framework of an investment of over 30 million Euros; as well as the implementation of the latest technologies in our information systems. 

Furthermore, the company’s long-term vision will allow us to develop our own vineyard in Chile in 2017.

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Oriol Iglesias – Associate Professor at ESADE and co-author of the book “Brand Desire: How to Create Consumer Involvement and Inspiration” published by Bloomsbury

The large majority of the leading brands in their markets sustain this position due to the enormous pressure they place on their potential clients. This brand pressure is based on three key levers: investment in communications, trade efforts and promotional offers. The main disadvantage of this approach is that, unless the brand is also capable of generating sustained desire among its clients, maintaining a position of leadership is more and more costly, meaning that mid- and long-term profitability is severely weakened. In short, the most profitable leading brands that are also able to maintain their competitive position over time are those that invest in brand pressure, but also brand desire.

Many brands work reasonably hard on the three levers for generating brand pressure mentioned above, but very few also work well with the brand desire levers: (1) principles, (2) storytelling,  (3) experience, (4) leadership and culture, (5) participation, and (6) innovation.

Fuente: Ind, N. and Iglesias, O. (2016) Brand desire: how to create consumer involvement and inspiration. Editorial: Bloomsbury

  1. Principles: Principles are the ideas that guide an organisation over time and that give meaning to its business activity. Principles are not static, but neither can they be constantly changing. Principles are ideas that emanate from the history and heritage of a company, but at the same time project it into the future. When brands act in line with their principles they are perceived as authentic by stakeholders. LEGO illustrates the importance of principles very clearly. The company was on the verge of bankruptcy in early 2000 due to disproportionate growth. When the new CEO took over in 2004 he stated that his main challenge was to rebuild the company’s identity in line with its heritage, but at the same time adapting it to today’s context. The LEGO principles were those that needed to give focus to the company’s entire future activity.
  2. :Storytelling: Stories are a fundamental instrument for connecting with consumers as they appeal to their emotions and lead to inspiration. Stories give us rational and emotional reasons to desire a brand. Stories are also the main tool that senior management has to align the organisation with a number of shared principles and to generate change. But in order to achieve this, a brand needs to build up a narrative goal inspired by its inheritance and at the same time project the organisation into the future, inspiring consumers and stakeholders.
  3. Experience: One of the keys to generating experiences that attract and foster customer loyalty is paying attention to every single detail and being extremely consistent. But, at the same time, the most desirable brands are the ones that regularly surprise us in a positive way. The most desirable brands are also those that design and offer experiences that appeal to our sense and transmit authenticity. Nespresso is a brand that offers a superior experience. Their coffee capsules are designed and presented to customers as if they were a luxury item. Their stores also reflect this sophistication. The brand also regularly brings out Grand Cru limited editions to surprise customers and delight even the most exclusive palates.
  4. Leadership and culture: In essence, brands are made up by the employees working for the organisation and who interact with customers. It is their beliefs, principles, attitudes and behaviours that determine the success of the brand-customer relationship. So, on one hand, leaders first need to develop all those initiatives intended for employees to understand and share company principles. But, at the same time, directors also have to offer empowerment and the capacity for manoeuvring to front line employees so that they can decide how to offer more value to their customers at all times. In order to achieve this it is essential – as can be seen in the Ritz Carlton hotel chain – to work with the teams on a daily basis to review the application of the brand principles and share best practices.
  5. Participation: The large majority of the most desirable brands (except super luxury ones, whose desirability lies partly in their exclusivity) aim to be accessible to their customers and some even actively try to encourage them to take part in many of the organisation’s processes. For example, since P&G promoted their collaborative innovation strategy with clients and other stakeholders known as “Connect+Develop”, the success rate of their innovation has tripled. This is also advocated by the chef Ferran Adrià, who says that an essential part of the creative process are the conversations he has with his customers. The most desirable brands are brands that are committed to co-creation.
  6. Innovation: Successful brands that want to grow sustainably need to weigh up on one hand the preservation of identity through consistency, while on the other they need to innovate and change to remain relevant. Consistency generates trust, but when combined with the surprise element and relevant innovation they generate desire. The problem is that most brands do not invest in appropriate innovation typologies. They normally obsess over line extensions, when what they should really do is reduce them and focus on renewing their core brands and products, those that provide positive cash flow for the organisation and that allow them to invest in more disruptive innovations to create new categories.

In short, the most desirable brands are the ones that are built up around inalienable principles that give them focus; develop a narrative goal combining all storytelling activities; offer an experience consistent with the principles of storytelling, but at the same time surprise their clients and constantly innovate; have committed employees with the ability to act, and who embrace customer involvement and the development of communities.

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On 25 October a ‘Friendship Lunch’ was held at the Campo de Marte Military Casino, organised by the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Mexico, where a number of Mexican personalities and entrepreneurs were acknowledged as ‘Friends of Brand Spain ’ in Mexico. 

The aim of the ‘Friends of Spanish Brands’ is to publicly acknowledge local people or businesses that stand out for their connection with or support for Spanish Brands in their international expansion.

The event was presided by the Spanish Ambassador to Mexico, Luis Fernández-Cid, who was also joined by the Government High Commissioner for Brand Spain , Carlos Espinosa de los Monteros, the Director General of the Spanish Patent and Brands Office (OEPM), Patricia García-Escudero, and the Chairman of the Leading Spanish Brands Forum and Freixenet Group, José Luis Bonet.

On this occasion the award-winners were:


Valentín Díez Morodo

valentin-diez-morodo

Mexican entrepreneur of Spanish origin, Chairman of the Mexican Business Council for Foreign Trade, Investment and Technology (COMCE), the Mexican Institute of Competitiveness, and co-owner of the Modelo brewery group until its sale in 2012. He is considered one of the most powerful and influential personalities in every area of Mexican society.

 

 

 


Antonio del Valle

antonio-del-valle

Mexican businessman of Spanish descent and patron of the Princesa de Asturias Foundation. Ranked the seventh wealthiest person in the country, he runs the Mexichem and Kaluz groups in the petrochemical and finance industries. He is also the main shareholder of the financial group Bx+, 6% of which is owned by Banco Popular.

 


 Antonio Suárez

antonio-suarez

A businessman from Asturias based in Mexico, owns of one of the most important tuna businesses in the world, Grupomar. He is also a patron of the Princesa de Asturias Foundation, is on the panel of judges for its Concord Award, and is a patron of the Friends of the Prado Museum Foundation.

 

 


Lino de Prado

lino-de-prado

A key entrepreneur in Mexico who over the course of his career has opened (and maintains) exceptional channels of communication of great value for Spanish companies and their promotion in the country. He has business interests in the hotel industry and is Chairman of the Board of Directors for Zara Mexico.


 

Hugo Sánchez

hugo-sanchez-1

Former Mexican footballer and manager, considered one of the best strikers in the history of Real Madrid. Named best player in North and Central America in the 20th century by IFFHS, he played for Mexico 75 times. He took part in three World Cups (Argentina, Mexico and the USA) and one American Cup (1993), in the runner up team.

 

 

 


Guillermo González Nova

guillermo-gonzalez-nova

Chairman of Comercial Mexicana, one of the largest self-service chain stores in Mexico.


 

Antonio Cosío

antonio-cosioChairman of the Las Brisas hotel group and Chairman of the Pando group.

 


 

oemp4Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI)

Homologue of the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office (SPTO) in Mexico.

 


Friends of Spanish brands


Monday 24 October at the Spanish Cultural Centre in Mexico saw the opening of the exhibition Indelible: A Jjourney Through the History and Advertising of Spanish Brands, an event also used to recognise the ‘Friends of Spanish Brands’ in Mexico.

American Chamber of Commerce of Mexico

 

nh-hotel-group-4Friend of NH Hotel Group

 


Aurelio Tamés

simon-2Friend of Simon

 


 

Buró de Crédito

aenor-4Friend of Aenor

 

 


Gabriel Puig Valls

barbadillo-4Friend of Barbadillo

 


Heliodoro Rodero

freixenetFriend of Freixenet

 

 


Mariela Buendia-Corrochano

andreu-world-4Friend of Andreu World

 


Palacio de Hierro

palacio-de-hierro-2Friend of Spanish brands

 


 

Ricardo Covarrubias

grupo-cortefiel-4Friend of Grupo Cortefiel

 

 


Sylvie Ligonie Mijancos

lladro-3Friend of Lladró

 

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Patricia García-Escudero – Managing Director for the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office (OEPM) The publication of EU Directive 2015/2436 of the European Parliament and of the Council, of 16 December 2015, on the approximation of the brand laws of the Member States, gives rise to the need to adapt our legal system to the provisions of […]
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The School of Industrial Organisation (EOI) and the Leading Spanish Brands Forum (FMRE) presented on 29 November the book ‘Brands in the Internationalisation of the B2B Company’, which received support from ICEX and the work for which was developed by Opinno Ideas.

The book reflects the importance of the brand in the process of expansion of companies and analyses the keys to the success of international management of the brand for B2B (Business to Business) companies through practical case studies of fifteen successful international Spanish businesses: Abertis, AENOR, Arco, Auditel, Cosentino, Ega Máster, Grupo Eulen, Fermax, Fira Barcelona, Gas Natural Fenosa, GMV, Iberdrola, Kalam, Ramondín and Televés.

The study analyses the characteristics of B2B markets, how their selling and purchasing processes work and what factors are decisive when it comes to choosing a product or service. In order to do this, the Opinno team analysed articles and publications on the matter and interviewed experts such as Cristina Vicedo, Director General of Future Brand Spain, Julio Cerviño, tutor of Commercialisation and Market Research at the Carlos III University, and Gabriela Salinas, Global Brand Manager for Deloitte, as well as the leaders of ICEX in the industrial and technological sectors. Cristina Vicedo firmly believes that B2B brands are no different from B2C brands, and she even states that brand is more important in a B2B context than in a B2C one: “Brands are emotions that persuade and mobilise their target audiences, whatever these are. Companies are made up of people and the trade relations between them are also undertaken by people, and people have emotions.” Julio Cerviño talked along the same lines, stressing that “brands allow the identification and projection of the values of a company or organisation, its products or services, how they differ from those of the competition, reflecting how it is organised and, well managed, they trigger an emotional connection and feeling of trust with customers, fostering loyalty in the target audience, as well as minimising risk and therefore obtaining sustainable cash flow over time.” Gabriela Salinas, meanwhile, addresses the idea of brand as a confidence builder: “Confidence used to be a hygiene factor, an attribute at the base of the pyramid. Today it have become a differentiating factor.”

For the development of the case studies, in-depth interviews were carried out with directors of Brand, Marketing, Communication and Internationalisation from the companies analysed. Miguel Ángel Martínez Olagüe, Director of Marketing and Development at GMV indicates that “brand building is delivering value at every interaction with the customer, meeting by meeting” and highlights that “in a B2B company context brands build trust and legitimise the decider. It is common for the decision maker to prefer to choose to minimise their personal risk within the organisation and prefer “to make a mistake” with a worse deal with someone who is well known than to risk making a better deal with someone who is not well known.”  Santiago Alfonso, Director of Marketing for Cosentino, affirms that “the three vectors of success are: innovation, internationalisation and brand management,” precisely the pillars on which the Brand Forum work is based.  Luis Gómez, Director of Brand and Reputation for Iberdrola, goes further and says that “we have moved from marketing to branding: everything we do revolves around generating brand value.”

The conclusions of the book offer the following lessons:

  • Brand is a competitive element in B2B and B2G environments as much as it is in B2C contexts.
  • The attributes of the greatest value for customers in industrial purchasing processes are: product, augmented services and branding
  • Brand is an asset for competitiveness that combines company values and differentiation and serves as a guarantee for quality and service
  • Branding also generates trust and legitimises the decision to purchase
  • Brand incorporates physical attributes and emotional values to allow them to generate a sensitive and sustainable advantage over competitors
  • Coherence and consistency are fundamental attributes
  • In the industrial environment brand value is established in the “customer relations” process which is what in the end generates the brand experience and the concept of reputation
  • It is necessary to design a brand architecture in line with the company’s strategic positioning
  • The complexity of B2B markets makes the human element much more present, transforming it into a much more influential factor than it may first seem
  • The complexity and importance of its management is greater as a result of globalisation, the productive dislocation of companies, homogenisation of the offer and the exponential growth of digital communications

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Key aspects of the preliminary draft of the Brand Law
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Patricia García-Escudero – Managing Director for the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office (OEPM) The publication of EU Directive 2015/2436 of the European Parliament and of the Council, of 16 December 2015, on the approximation of the brand laws of the Member States, gives rise to the need to adapt our legal system to the provisions of […]
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Jorge Lorenzo is currently the Secretary General of the Televés Corporation. He started his career in the company in 1985 as the Director General of the Portuguese subsidiary, later taking over the management of human resources and finally as assistant director general until 2012 when he took on his new role.

Jorge Lorenzo is a graduate in Business Science from the University of Santiago de Compostela, with a Master’s Degree in Human Resources Management from the Spanish Confederation of Business Associations

You have recently opened a subsidiary in Scandinavia. What does this step mean for in the company’s international expansion strategy?

It is, indeed, another step in the Corporation’s growth strategy that has been underway for some time, and which has meant that international markets now represent over 60% of our total sales. In recent years we have strengthened our office in Germany, we have set up offices in Poland and Russia, and we have signed important contracts relating to the launch of Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) and the so-called Digital Dividend through our offices in France, the UK, Poland and Russia. We are also very well positioned in the local markets in Portugal and Italy, where our brand is also highly recognised. This is with regard to Europe. In America, our US office is also working hard to increase our presence in that key market, and we are taking important steps in the Colombian market. Televés Portugal is a launchpad for reaching Africa where there are significant opportunities, as well as the extraordinarily dynamic Middle Eastern and Asian markets, which we are working on from our offices in the Arab Emirates and China.

Televés Scandinavia is a continuation of this strategy, driving growth in the Nordic and Scandinavian markets where we already have a good presence with a market share of approximately 20%, but where we believe there are niche opportunities in emerging markets which, if we can use them well, will allow us to reach 50% over the next 5 years. Furthermore, we want to position ourselves in the Baltic States. We are familiar with the field because we have been working in Scandinavia since 1981 via our distributor, the structure of which will now become a full part of the Televés Corporation thanks to this acquisition for the setup of Televés Scandinavia.

You are present in over 90 countries, in some through subsidiaries and others via a network of professional distributors. What are your main selection criteria for entering a new market?

A key criterion is the telecommunications infrastructure technology in homes and buildings used in that country. Although we have subsidiaries in countries using other systems, as is the case in the US, a large part of our catalogue responds to the technological standards of Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB), which is dominant in Europe, most of Asia and Africa. However, the diversification of catalogue means that the telecommunications standard is more and more decisive as we are firmly committed to optical fibre, networks for local operators and multi-platform distribution platforms for the hospitality sector (hotels, hospitals, homes, etc.). We are also evolving to become facilitators for services in the social and healthcare sector through digital home and building infrastructures. This has been done via agreements with relevant organisations such as the Red Cross which has recently presented its new tele-assistance device, developed and manufactured by Televés.

We operate in practically every market, but we are cautious when it comes to establishing ourselves.  Our business model is highly analytical: we never take the step of creating a subsidiary if we are not completely sure about it.

What markets currently have the most weight in the Televés overall business mix and what are the markets of the future?

Western Europe is, for us, a consolidated market, but we still believe that we can continue to make strong inroads in Germany which is of dual importance: it represents a high number of consumers, and it continues to be a benchmark for technology and quality requirements. Making a name for oneself in Germany means a lot, not only in the country, but all around the world. Western Europe is a significant growth vector for us, with reference points in Poland and Russia. Russia is also the ideal platform for us to expand into Central Asia, which continues to have a special relationship with Moscow. The Middle East is also strategically significant for us and the role of the US continues to grow. Looking to the future, Latin America and Africa are regions where we believe we can fight for major opportunities. 

At Televés you have opted not to outsource your design and manufacturing processes. What benefits does this decision have for you in terms of competition?

This philosophy of vertical integration and flexibility is linked to the same historical and geographical origins of Televés. When the company was launched in 1958, Santiago de Compostela was something of a backwater, so we had to learn to do everything practically on our own. This is still true because we are convinced that this is the best way to protect the knowledge generated in our company and, at the same time, it ensures better control over quality and customer response. Another benefit is that we can respond much more flexibly than our competitors to fluctuations in demand. We have manufacturing facilities not seen anywhere else in our sector. We have been pioneers in the introduction of SMD technology and robotics. We are currently carrying out our “digital revolution” and the transformation of our production facilities towards Fabric 4.0.

Televés also works on the development of its own technological solutions, such as the case of TForce, a technology that allows us to independently develop, manufacture and assemble MMIC (Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuits) components. It is a process technique that exceeds the limitations of silicon microchips and represents a significant move forward in the miniaturisation of components. For us it will also mean a strong drive forward in our freedom as designers and manufacturers as we will have more autonomy to develop our own concepts and be less dependent on suppliers.

You have over 200 items of Industrial Property. What are the key ones? What value do they bring to your brand?

Innovation is part of the Televés DNA.  As a basic element for the sustainability of a company working in globalised, highly competitive markets, we believe in technological development and we believe it is essential to protect our industrial property. Our own technology differentiates us on the market and gives us recognition as a benchmark firm that sets standards. More than any particular invention or patent that stands out, I think our greatest achievement is never settling for what we have accomplished. We always want to go further because that is what enables us to continue progressing.

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Salomé Carrera’s career has evolved in line with the growth and evolution of the firm Pili Carrera since she completed her studies and joined the business founded by her parents, Pilar Rodríguez and Bienvenido Carrera.

Since she started at the firm, Salomé Carrera has worked in different departments, gaining the knowledge and skills necessary for the management and production of the company’s textile business. Today she holds the position of General Manager.

All Pili Carrera’s production is run and distributed from the head offices in Pontevedra. What benefits does this have for the brand in terms of competition?

We have had just one production centre since the company was founded over 50 years ago and this is where we carry out all the manufacturing processes from the initial designs to distributing to stores. Since the beginning, at Pili Carrera we have opted for local production as this allows us to have complete control over all phases of the manufacturing. Our goal is to offer our customers an impeccable garment, and in order to do this we must be able to continuously monitor every process. We also make highly coordinated garments of fabric and knitwear and in order to this we must have both production lines here, at our facilities in Mos (Pontevedra).

You have a chain of single-brand stores and a multi-brand sales network around the world. What led you to opt for this model?

Over the course of the past fifty years, the company has gradually incorporated new product lines such as children’s products, furnishings, cosmetics, etc. This broad offer, together with growing demand from our customers, led us to choose the single-brand chain formula, a space to offer our customers a global concept of our collection. We currently have a network of over 50 stores in 15 countries such as the US and Kuwait. In markets where, due to our store requirements, we cannot set up a Pili Carrera franchise, we have opted for a multi-brand channel, through which we have approximately 600 independent points of sale around the world.

What are the main selection criteria for deciding what new markets to enter?

To set our goals at international level we observe the economic and political situation in the country, its per capita income, growth indices and market analyses, both for possible competitors we may find there and for the adaptation of our product to cultural, social and religious aspects.

How important is the online sales channel for Pili Carrera?

Today this is an essential distribution channel for our collections as it allows us to reach places where we do not have a store and to respond to customers who want our products. We opened it two years ago and sales have gradually increased. It is currently only available in Spain, but our intention is to implement it in Europe.

What sort of a presence does the brand have on social media?

Pili Carrera currently has an official profile on a number of social networks such as Facebook, Youtube and Instagram, all run from our head office in Mod (Pontevedra). In this day and age when new technologies have completely changed our social habits, an online presence is an essential shop window for promoting our brand, interacting with our customers and showing our collections to the public. The use of social media as a business communication tool is the image the the company projects on its online channel and is why we are keenly aware of these profiles, emcompassing the values and image that our brand aims to transmit.

What are your goals for 2017?

For the coming year, our objectives are focused on consolidating our position in the Middle East (Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) though the opening of new stores, the first being in Qatar, but without ruling out possible agreements in other countries. Another of our major goals for 2017 is to continue our growth in the US and Latin America, strengthening our current presence in Mexico, Panama, Guatemala, Peru and the Dominican Republic.

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Enrique Bretos is the CEO and co-founder of Pisamonas, the brand of children’s shoes that, in practically no time at all, has become a reference point in the e-commerce sector. An aeronautical engineer with 14 years’ experience in a management position in the aviation and tourist industry, he made the move to the shoe business to lead the growth and professionalisation of the online children’s shoe start-up Pisamonas.es. In just a few years it has become one of the leading Spanish brands of children’s shoes, focusing on the online business with a single philosophy of quality, price and level of service. This has led them to receive a number of acknowledgements and strong national and international expansion, operating in 6 countries.

All Pisamonas shoes are manufactured in Spain with quality materials and finishes, using traditional processes. Is this an advantage for you in terms of competition?

Without a doubt! At Pisamonas we support 100% manufacturing in Spain, supporting national industry and employment and it is a key element of our brand. I think that the recent economic crisis has helped people to be more aware of how important it is to support local shoe production as much as possible in the face of Asian imports. Furthermore, manufacturing shoes here allows us to follow the processes and quality of our finishes more closely, as well as responding more flexibly to any needs.

And what is your strategy for differentiating yourselves from the competition?

When we founded the children’s shoe business Pisamonas we did it because we saw a niche that wasn’t covered. It was very difficult to find a brand of children’s shoes that offered good quality, good prices and the option of online purchasing. You could find cheap shoes, but imported and of low quality, or high-quality shoes that cost a fortune or were available on foreign websites.
That is why we decided to launch Pisamonas, following a strategy that differentiates us from the competition by manufacturing all our shoes in Spain with good materials and finishes, with designs based on classical lines but adapted to current trends and fashions, and at a good price thanks to a commitment to a high volume of production via selling online.

In a very short time, your online store has become one of the benchmark sites for purchasing children’s shoes online. What factors do you think have influenced this success?

It is probably a combination of many things. It is not about one or two single key elements. The first, proposing value in terms of product and price. I think that our brand has managed to build up a catalogue of shoes of good quality, with attractive designs and at affordable prices, something that was not easy to find. The next thing I would say is that a lot of training, a commitment to technology, passion things well done, having a good team and being patient as in the online world you need consistency and patience to meet your objectives.
Then there is variety. We have more formal, classical lines, as well as more casual designs, babies’ shoes, children’s shoes and even shoes for men and women. From first communion and school shoes, to footwear for the beach, slippers or moccasins as well as Mary Janes. Traditional models adapted to modern times, such as espadrilles, Menorcan slip-ons or desert boots, as well as modern designs in boots and sandals. There is a Pisamonas model for every occasion. If the service is also efficient and friendly – as seen by our recent award for the best e-commerce customer service, thanks to our great team that is always willing to help – and you have policies intended for online purchasing that do away with customer concerns – we have enough to worry about as it is – well, these are additional ingredients for the model to work.

In recent years you have also worked hard on internationalisation and Pisamonas’ sales abroad now counts for around 25% of sales. What export model do you use, and why?

That’s right, today one in every four pairs of Pisamonas shoes is sold outside Spain, and this is increasing. Our sales model on international markets is the same as here. In other words, we sell online – on a website set up for each country – directly to the end user, with highly e-commerce orientated policies, free shipping, free exchanges and returns to the customer’s door, and first class customer service.
We believe that this is the formula that best suits the Pisamonas model. It allows us to keep our prices low through direct marketing, and we are better aligned with our customers’ tastes and preferences thanks to our direct contact with them. We learn a lot from customer feedback from our followers on social media and the opinions and suggestions that they give us. This helps us to improve and adapt our designs and collections each season.

What criteria does the company use to select its export markets?

For the time being we have started on markets that are close by where online sales are an increasing reality and where our types of shoe are already well-received. Fortunately, Made in Spain fashion and footwear is already well recognised abroad as synonymous with design and quality of the same prestige as Italian or French shoes. So, for Pisamonas international expansion is a good opportunity for growth.

What are your short- to mid-term goals?

For the short and mid term we are focusing on consolidating the growth we have had over the past few years, increasing our workforce and adding new processes to the company for greater efficiency, while at the same time working on investment in both new technology and the overseas markets where we operate. Next year we will probably exceed 30% in international sales and in two to three years we will open in new markets to continue our growth and work to make Pisamonas one of the best brands of Spanish children’s footwear.

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Juan Manuel Perán Bazán has been Executive Chairman of the Pikolinos Group since June 2016, taking over from his father, Juan Perán, who led the company since it was founded in 1984. The second child of Juan Perán and Rosario Bazán, from a young age Juan Manuel showed an interest in business in particular and for the footwear industry in general. His creative and cosmopolitan spirit soon led him to pack his bags and train at footwear and commercial schools in Germany and Italy, also making the most of one of his other interests, languages. He speaks fluent English, German and Italian, something that has helped him a great deal in business as Pikolinos operates in over 60 countries and exports 80% of its production. After completing his training and working with creative teams at footwear firms in Italy, Juan Manuel joined Pikolinos and moved directly to the Design department. There, in charge of his own team, he was responsible for renewing the ladies’ and gents’ collection for the firm. His mentality of “there is always another way of doing things” enabled him to redefine all the processes and create work flows to make these collections more dynamic.

Juan Manuel Perán represents creativity, organisation, efficiency, the simplicity of things, but also consistency. It was that consistency at work, and his in-depth knowledge of every company process that led him to become Executive Deputy Chairman of Pikolinos Group and then, in 2016, to take over as Chairman, alongside his elder sister, Rosana Perán, Deputy Chairman and head of the financial department.

How important is the brand in the footwear sector?

It is definitely a fundamental part. In the footwear industry brand is an umbrella of support for customers and consumers, a guarantee of quality, service, and know-how. We must work towards having as consistent a sector as possible and that is why we need brands of international prestige. This is our best possible passport to overseas markets.

The Pikolinos values are constancy, creativity, naturalness, excellence and trust. How do you work to link these values to your brand?

At all our points of contact with customers. From the product, stores, to social media, websites, catalogues… We should be, and we try to be, consistent with our values. We show them and defend them in the knowledge that it is precisely these values that have brought us to where we are today.

You have opted for a traditional finish for your products as well as quality leather. Does this benefit you in terms of competition?

We believe it does, yes. The finish of our leather has always been the true star of our collections. It is our calling card to the world and we have always taken good care of it. Our collections have their own personality based on leather that we treat ourselves, at our own factory, in order to control the process and end quality at all times.

What are your goals for internationalisation?

We want to consolidate ourselves in our mature markets, mainly in Europe, the US and China. And also to continue our route into emerging markets where we have a lot to do; a challenge that we face with enthusiasm and great optimism. In this international drive, without a doubt, the development of our own store model plays a key role. Our flagship stores overseas in Paris, Kobe, Rome, Florence, Bruges and Brussels have paved the way for this.

What are the challenges facing the company over the next five years?

We want to grow as a brand. We want to do this in a sustainable way, with solid foundations that will help us to face the challenges that we set ourselves. Developing our product lines, developing our retail chain, facing entry into new markets and remaining constant in our drive with regard to the online sector. I think these are the foundations on which we need to continue building.

How important is the online sales channel for Pikolinos? What percentage does it contribute to the total sales of the brand?

It is on the increase. It is a window to the world. The best shop window one can have. Open 24 hours, where you can say what you are, however you want to say it. We live in a thrilling world, the digital world, and we are fully immersed in it. We hope to reap the benefits, not only in terms of turnover, but even more so in terms of brand recognition.

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Patricia García-Escudero – Managing Director for the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office (OEPM) The publication of EU Directive 2015/2436 of the European Parliament and of the Council, of 16 December 2015, on the approximation of the brand laws of the Member States, gives rise to the need to adapt our legal system to the provisions of […]
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Cristina vicedo

 

 

 

Cristina Vicedo

General Manager FutureBrand Spain

 

The answer is yes, and I would even go as far as to say it is even more important for a B2B company that for a B2C company.

There are two phenomena that have made B2B companies change their approach and their handling within the company of its most important intangible asset: the brand.

  • The first of these has been the creation and proliferation of new brands created in recent years. Whether for motives of business diversification, or geographical expansion, the truth is that both factors have led to companies creating brands that are not entirely necessary or not in line with their business strategy. This has given rise to the fact that many B2B companies are at present focusing on reorientation and reorganisation of their brands to endow their portfolio with more coherence and consistency.
  • The second of these is “infoxication.” Globalisation, the accessibility and availability of internet have meant that all kinds of companies, whatever the sector in which they operate and whatever their brands are, have had the need to communicate at some point, even if it has only has only been through a website. This has resulted in a dizzying increase in communication and in the saturated and literal “infoxication” of all the target audiences, that is to say, they are intoxicated by over excessive communication. This phenomenon has led all companies, B2B or B2C, and their brands, to go down the path of trying to be different in order to grab the attention of their target audiences within this overwhelming din.

Are the brands that target a B2C end consumer different than the brands that target other B2B companies or their management? In a short, quick answer, NO.

Brands are emotions that persuade and mobilise their target audiences, whichever these are. Companies are made up of people and the trade relations between them are also undertaken by people, and people have emotions. Hence, it is very important that brands of B2B companies also have an important emotional component, which until recently was the exclusive preserve of brands directed at end consumers.

What it is important to note is that, as well as advertising the brand and investing in it, it represents the company and is the flagship of its values ​​and aspirations in an ever more demanding world.

Within the environment of B2B companies brands create confidence and legitimise the decision maker. It is common that the decision maker may prefer to choose to minimise their personal risk within the organisation and prefer “to make a mistake” with a worse deal with someone who is well known than to risk making a better deal with someone who is not well known.

The brand is therefore a reason for choice and influences purchasing decisions, thus creating equity for the business.

What must a B2B do in order to create a brand?

1.- Align brand strategy with the business strategy of the company. Given the business objectives we wish to achieve in the coming years, we will know in which of them the brand can help us to achieve them, turning it into an additional business tool.

2.- Identify the target audience. With the business objectives as a starting point, define a brand strategy that is relevant to the target audiences; to do this, it is essential to know who we are targeting and so adapt ourselves and speak their language. It is very important, to be clear about who our customers are and identify the best way to reach them and to connect with them before undertaking any commercial activity.

3.- Define a brand strategy, values ​​and positioning that is distinct and sustainable. Within the sector and category in which the company operates, we must analyse the competing brands to identify their values ​​and positioning, which will ensure that our message is distinct, and at the same time the company has to commit itself to supporting and sustaining this message over time, without letting itself be defeated by the short-term demands.

4.- Both the name and identity must capitalise on the identified strategy of the brand. In this way, we reflect our values through our name and the image that ​​represents our company and we offer our products and services in such a way that our public identifies with and purchases them.

5.- Have a portfolio of brands that meets the requirements of our public objectives and our business strategy. There is no need to create brands simply by merit of the fact that the company is diversifying or entering a new market.

6.- Be coherent and consistent. Nowadays this is perhaps one of the most arduous brand tasks, given that we have to ensure that our brand is displayed and advertised to all its target audiences and through all points of contact in a coherent and consistent manner, reflecting its values and positioning, and not allowing itself to be overcome by the demands of the short-term, or by frugal changes in business strategy .

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Isidoro J. Alanis is the founder and President of the foreign currency services multinational, Global Exchange. With a Bachelor´s Degree in Business Administration and Management, he continued his academic training in the USA and Spain. In 1996, in Fuentes de Oñoro (Salamanca), he founded the company Eurodivisas, the parent company of the Global Exchange Group. Twenty years later, Global Exchange leads the industry in Spain and is the third ranking company at an international level, and leader in Latin America, with a presence in 17 countries over four continents and with 1,600 employees.

How important is the brand name for a company that operates in an sector as specific as the currency exchange service?

In a sector like ours the brand name acquires particular significance because we handle one of the most delicate assets for our customers, their money. When it comes to trusting a currency exchange service, the customer is first and foremost looking for trust, security, transparency, efficiency and professionalism, the highest quality, as well as a wide availability in terms of opening hours and accepted currencies. For this reason, it is vital to us that our brand responds to these basic requirements and that it constitutes, moreover, an added value which allows us to exceed the expectations of our clients, because we must not forget that the brand constitutes, at the end of the day, what makes one service stand out from the rest.

In 2001 you became the only Spanish company in the industry to go international. What motivated you to do this? And what milestones in your international expansion process would you highlight?

Global Exchange´s backing of international expansion was a strategic decision taken at a crucial moment for the company. With the introduction of the Euro in 2001, 95% of our market disappeared and we faced a dilemma that would leave an indelible imprint on our future: to opt for closure or to back a difficult process of international expansion, which eventually took off in Latin America. This meant a 180° turn around for the company, for our strategy and for our way of doing business, since we had to move into much more complex, completely different new areas, such as the airport sector.

The excellent results that we returned in the first years of our expansion led us to become, in a very short time, industry leaders at the international airports of Latin America and the Caribbean. After this first major milestone, we took a bet on other markets such as Africa and the Middle East, through our subsidiaries in Morocco and Jordan. At the present time, we are putting the focus on Europe, where in addition to being the most significant foreign exchange company in Spain, we have now opened offices at the International Airport of Geneva, Switzerland, and we will be doing so in the very near future at the Airport of Billund, Denmark.

So backing internationalisation marked out our future, because thanks to this decision we are today the third most important currency exchange company at a global level at international airports and we have 180 exchange offices in 17 countries over 4 continents, in which our workforce of more than 1,600 employees serves 4.2 million customers each year.

What markets are currently showing a greater volume of trade for the company´s international business?

The strongest market for Global Exchange is Latin America, where you will find 12 of our 17 subsidiaries and where we are leaders in the sector of currency exchange at the international airports. We have a strong presence in countries such as Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Mexico, where we have offices both at airports as well as in other points of tourist influx, such as hotels, ports, shopping centres and on the high street.

In addition, Spain is currently one of our most important subsidiaries because it represents 27% of the total volume of business of the group. After our entry into the Euro compelled us to close 95% of our network of offices in Spain, in 2011 we began providing our service in Spanish airports and so we re-established our commercial activity in our country of origin. In just five years we have gone from a single currency exchange office in the city of Salamanca, the only one that remained open after the entry into the Euro, to currently having a network of 29 offices located in the main Spanish airports (Madrid – Barajas Terminals T1, 2, 3 and T4, Barcelona – El Prat T1 and T2, Alicante, Palma de Mallorca and Tenerife South) and we have become the most important currency exchange company in our country.

What does the creation of the online currency reservation service mean for the expansion strategy of the company? In what other ways does Global Exchange take advantage of new technologies?

Adapting our business to digital philosophy is something we consider to be essential. This is a service that comes from our strong commitment to innovation and excellence in customer service, and which provides access to our services and makes it possible to reserve currency comfortably by internet from anywhere in the world. With this service we offer our customers added value and reduce their worries when they are travelling.

Technology is in our DNA. We are constantly reinventing ourselves and for this it is essential to make full use of the endless possibilities offered by technological advances to anticipate the needs of our customers, to adapt to the markets in which we operate and to become more and more competitive. In fact, all our computer programmes are designed and developed internally. We have a department of Technology and Development which is made up of over 50 people, focused exclusively on technological innovation and the creation of our systems.

What are your internationalisation goals for 2016?

Our goal for this year is to open new offices in six countries. We are looking towards both Asia and Europe, where we will continue consolidating our expansion with new openings. This will lead to an increase in the number of offices, taking us from 180 to 230 branches, with more than 5 million customers being served. In turn, our staff numbers will increase by approximately 400 people.

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Rafael Moragón Martinez is a graduate in Business Administration and Management of the Autonomous University of Madrid, has a Master´s Degree in Business Strategies for Asia Pacific from the Copenhagen Business School (CBS) Denmark, a Specialist Master´s Degree in Management of Financial Portfolios from Options – Futures Institute and a Diploma in Marine Purchasing & Supply from the IMPA (Intern. Marine Purchasing Assoc). After having undertaken various positions of responsibility in different sectors of Tec Container, he was appointed Managing Director of the Board of Shareholders, and is completely in charge of the overall running of the company, strategic planning and development, as well as of all the sectors which make up the organisation.

Tec Container has served the market for 40 years. What are the milestones you would highlight along your path as a brand?

The path of the brand has been in line with the evolution of the company. From the beginning we wanted it to be associated with one of the core values of the company, which is the technology and innovation behind our designs. One of the most relevant milestones has undoubtedly been the establishment of three brands under the umbrella of the main brand: containerspreaders.com; lashingcages.com and ohframes.com. All three complement the brand´s flagship message, placing emphasis on the products around which we wish to focus our strategy, in addition to our great commitment to digital transformation.

What importance is placed on the brand in the strategy of the company? What motivated you to recently change your logo?

TEC Container has undergone a transformation on a very profound level in recent years. Not only has it changed its strategy but also aspects such as our business culture. We believe that it is important to convey this message to the market in a very simple manner, one that is very visual and also easy to grasp. Amongst a range of activities and advertising we believed that the logo was, without doubt, one of the best ambassadors for this change.

You have a presence in more than 80 countries and the greatest part of your income comes from international markets. What are your competitive advantages compared to other international groups?

To highlight one, I would go with our ability to listen, to understand the customer and to adapt to what they really need. Other groups, perhaps due to their greater size and therefore lesser agility and flexibility, are not able to offer this capacity for adaptability that we offer. We do not dispatch products, we create solutions and help make transactions more efficient and secure.

Which markets currently offer a greater volume of trade for Tec Container´s international business and which are the markets of the future?

TEC has a presence throughout the world and the answer to the question depends on which line of business we focus on. On an aggregate level, the market in which we have the greatest presence is Europe. Without doubt the future leads along the path of continued expansion throughout Latin America and the United States of America, although we are also working to increase our presence in the rest of the world.

What promotional strategy is the brand pursuing in the international markets?

For TEC positioning on the Internet is vital. Also making contact with local companies whose brands are closely associated with quality and safety is essential to us. And lastly, our brand is doing an important job, along with institutions and other stakeholders in the market, to promote the creation of new regulations that ensure high standards of quality and safety.

What are the challenges facing the company over the next five years?

The challenges for TEC are to continue the process of transformation the organisation is involved in. We know that change has come to stay and for this reason we are developing the capabilities within our organisation to continue to be leaders in agility and flexibility, whilst maintaining the safety and quality standards that, without a doubt, have allowed us to become a benchmark in the market.

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Almudena Alonso (Directora General Conh & Wolfe España)_Almudena Alonso – General Manager of Cohn & Wolfe Spain

In recent years, intangible assets have been growing in significance to the point of becoming an indispensable part of the equity of a brand, surpassing even the rest of its assets. Therefore it is essential to know what it is that determines the positioning of a brand in the minds of consumers.

To answer this question, a few years ago at Cohn & Wolfe we decided to undertake the study ‘Authentic Brands’, which gathered the opinions of more than 12,000 consumers from 14 markets, seeking to discover their perception of brands and their degree of authenticity.

But first and foremost, it is necessary to clarify the concept of authenticity. It is a concept closely linked to the ability to fulfil promises made and which, applied to the business sector, is identified with the satisfaction of expectations raised among the stakeholders. In other words, it is the key to establishing a relationship of mutual trust between brands and audiences.

The study also removed any doubt about the importance of authenticity. In fact, nine out of every ten consumers would reward the authenticity of a brand, either through their loyalty or even by recommendation to other customers. This is a differentiating factor that brings an enormous competitive advantage.

Consumers, who, thanks to technological advances, now assume the role of “prosumers”, have become accustomed to expressing their opinion and to influencing others and brands. In this way, their role has changed and, in response to the huge amount of information they have access to, they have increased the level of their demands, forcing brands to strive not to be left behind.

In fact, only 7 per cent of consumers in Spain believe that brands are open and honest, which places Spain as the second European country in which less is expected from brands, second only to Sweden. Therefore, there is no doubt that authenticity presents itself as a great opportunity that very few are taking full advantage of.

So what then should a brand do to be perceived as authentic by the public? What factors are the most important to consumers? These questions hold the key to ensuring that a brand gains the confidence of its customers and makes authenticity one of its principal intangible assets.

Nevertheless, authenticity is a concept that is too broad to be defined in terms of a single attribute. In fact, according to the consumers surveyed, there are three values that determine the authenticity of a brand: reliability, respect and being real.

That is, in order for trust to exist in the relationship between brand and customers, it is imperative that this brand be synonymous with reliability and security. That is to say, there must be a definite value for consumers, which is manifested in the quality of the products or services and the fulfilment of promises made.

On the other hand, one of the greatest consumer demands on brands is that of respect. An inescapable commitment demonstrated by treating customers well, but also through an aspect that has been gaining importance, thanks to digital advances in society: the protection of the customer´s data and privacy.

The last, but by no means least important value, is being real. Consumers want brands that are natural, close and, ultimately, real. In fact, in our country, this aspect is the most problematic, given that, according to the consumers who participated in this study, brands do not manage to communicate honestly.

Thus, to achieve a good balance between these three pillars it is essential to win the loyalty of consumers and achieve a relationship of trust with them. The benefits are beyond all doubt, since the direct experience of the consumer has a significant effect on their perception of a brand. Therefore, improving and investing in this experience may offer very good results.

However, as this study demonstrates, brands must still work to achieve effective and honest communication with their audiences. And in this sense, the role of Public Relations in the marketing mix is fundamental because it allows the public to be approached in a more open, close manner and overcomes once and for all the barrier that exists between clients and brands.

Therefore, brands must not be afraid to open up to consumers or to be transparent and close. The path to authenticity necessarily passes through accessibility. If a brand manages to transmit its values and projects to their audiences, it will increase the direct experience of their customers. And the key to being considered an Authentic Brand lies in this experience.

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IMG_8947

Rubén Gil  – CEO Enjoy Brand Licensing

 

Licensing is defined as the transfer of the equity of a brand to a third party who, in exchange for that equity, delivers a payment in cash. This equity is added to a product or service, making it more attractive to the consumer.

In the strictest sense, licensing would be the cession of a brand to a third party for the manufacture and distribution of a given product or service in exchange for a royalty per unit sold or for a service rendered. There are many examples, from Paw Patrol T-shirts to the advertising campaigns of Movistar in conjunction with Star Wars.

Licensing is a magnificent tool for the expansion a brand, so for this journey into different sectors and regions, it is therefore an excellent means of achieving the internationalisation of the brand.

So then, what are the requirements for a brand to be internationalised?

Requirements for the Internationalisation of a brand:

  1. Reputation: in order for a brand to be suitable to be licensed, it must have recognised prestige and must bring equity to those who purchase this brand (licensees).
  2. There has to be a scheme of licenses: that is to say, it must be clear what products are being licensed, the price/ positioning, advertising, and the regions where the brand will be licensed.
  3. A series of procedures must be in place:
    1. A Style guide: a style guide must be produced, which will serve as a basis for future licensees to adapt the brand to their products or services.
    2. A Design Department, which enhances and updates the style guide and undertakes the whole procedure of approval of the licensed products or services (products or services to which the equity of the brand has been brought), as well as for all advertising of the licensed products or services carried out by the licensee. This is crucial because it protects the brand, and lends it coherence and continuity.
    3. The Commercial /Marketing/License Department, which markets the licenses and undertakes the monitoring, coordination and leadership of the licensing scheme.
    4. The Accountancy Department, which monitors and oversees the collection of the corresponding royalties (remuneration the licensor receives from the licensee in payment for the transfer of the corresponding license).
    5. The Legal Department: must be able to assume the costs of the protection and monitoring of the brand in all the regions in which it has a presence.

Now that we have covered the fundamental requirements, we shall consider the steps of approach to internationalisation of brands by means of licensing .

The brands that “travel” best are those which originate in the world of entertainment (TV, cinema, apps, Internet, music), sports and fashion.

Development schemes for internationalisation of a brand may be organic, as is the case with Disney, where all the means are at their disposal, through the exposure of their product through their TV channels, and where their local offices undertake all the advertising. Or they may be non-organic activities, through agents, in which case the owners of the brands (licensors) build networks of independent agents, to whom they cede part of the equity of remuneration in exchange for undertaking development of the business in the field.

As previously mentioned, at the time of implementing an internationalisation scheme based on the licensing of a brand, we must work from a base of the reputation of the brand in the region in question. If the brand is not reputable, it will not be of interest.

Once the reputation of the brand is assured, it must be decided how to undertake its commercialisation, whether directly or through agents with local licenses.

The manner in which this area is usually dealt with at a pan-regional and international level, is that the agreements are managed directly by the owner of the brand. For example, agreements with companies like Zara, McDonalds, Hasbro, given that the agents are few, their scope worldwide, and their high level of strategic importance. As agreements are refined at a regional level, the role of the local licensing agency takes on more importance.

It is of crucial importance to choose local agents carefully, given that there are licensing agencies that specialise in a particular type of property (brands), some of which are large agencies with many holdings and resources, and others that are smaller with fewer holdings and fewer resources. The recommended criterion is to select the agency based on the type of brand that is to be commercialised. If it is a brand of entertainment, with a good reputation and a short life span (very dependent on media exposure), the ideal would be a large agency, given that, in spite of having many other properties, they will focus on the ones with best reputation, using the wide range of resources at their disposal. In contrast, if the holding belongs to the realm of fashion or design, where the handling must be more painstaking, with a focus on the long term and a more “artisan” style of work, and with a more medium and long term profitability, agencies specialising in this type of brand, with fewer properties in their portfolio, tend to be the ideal.

Also of great importance is the level of resources the licensor is prepared to devote to coordination and leadership of the local agents. If resources are limited, then it is best to use a pan-regional licensing agency, with offices in several countries and with management centralised in one of them, given that in this way it is possible to manage large areas such as Europe, Asia, Latin America and North America, with 5 or 6 players . This greatly simplifies management, but the down side is that it will not be the best possible agency in the region. If the resources are available, then the ideal is to select the best possible agency by country, although this implies higher management costs.

The local agent will perform the prospecting for the best licensees, submit the contracts of license to the Licensor for approval, undertake a monitoring process of the whole relationship with the licensees, promote overlapping marketing activities between the different licensees and support activities that retailers undertake with the brand. At times they may also participate in the process of approval of the licensed products.

Once the network of agents around the world is established, the position of the licensor must be to act as the leader the licensing programme. The licensor should lead activities in the main countries, in order to work in coordination with the local agents, with the following key players:

  1. Key retailers: fundamental, because they lead the brand, what they display in their premises sells and what they don´t, does not.
  2. Resources: if the brand depends on a specific type of media exposure, it is crucial to coordinate this exposure with the placing of the product in the market and other marketing activities that the key retailers and licensees undertake.
  3. Main licensees: such as international or pan-regional partners.

Ultimately, the internationalisation of a brand through licensing is very efficient because it transfers much of the risk to the licensees, who assume the manufacture, distribution and advertising of the licensed products, and it also transfers the management of business development in each region to local agents. The challenge that is always faced in these case, is that lack of control may lead to a loss of prestige for the brand, for which reason the mechanisms for controlling and leading the key processes are very important, as is the choice of the right partners, equally in the spheres of agents, retailers and licensees.

 

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Mercedes Perea has a Bachelor´s Degree in Economics and Business Administration from the Complutense University in Madrid. In addition, she has a ‘Maîtrise de Gestion’ from the Paris IX University (Dauhpine) and an Executive MBA from the Instituto de Empresa in Madrid. She completes her education with the “auditor and certified accountant” official certificate. After several years as auditor of large multinationals and almost 11 years as CFO, she is appointed Managing Director of Algoritmos, Procesos y Diseños, S.A. (APD).

What role does the brand play for a company like the APD Group?

Branding is really fundamental. In APD, we work on a daily basis to represent our core values in our brand, since the brand constitutes the best calling card for our company and a guarantee of success in the hypercompetitive worlds of ICT and engineering in which we operate.

We try every day to develop our brand in order to agglutinate all those identifiers by which we want our stakeholders to recognize us with.

Is the same brand used in all the sectors in which the Group operates?

In the last years, we are trying to rationalize the usage of our brand to strengthen it, by supporting and clarifying APD’s value proposal. Perhaps, the utilization of different brands for different sectors has not been very helpful when transmitting the kind of company we are. Aware of this fact, we definitely bet on a better and greater definition of our brand, through a more effective communication. Our objective is to facilitate the understanding to our domestic and foreign customers, positioning ourselves with a differentiated and relevant offer.

What comparative advantages of the APD Group would you highlight over its competitors?

We are a consolidated 100% Spanish capital company with more than 35 years in the market. With an extensive proven experience, I believe that our values make us unique compared to our competitors, especially against big size multinational companies. We offer high value added engineering solutions and innovation, adapted to the specific needs of our customers, offering turnkey projects that include consulting studies, installation, commissioning and the after sales service.

All this in such diverse sectors as security & defense, healthcare or public administration. We are recognized as a symbol of service, quality and reliability.

What is the implication of the internationalization in the strategic plan of the company?

APD has historically banked on export projects, what has enabled us to consolidate our existing presence in certain countries. As a company that develops its own technology and enjoys high R&D capabilities, we necessarily must strengthen the international markets.

I firmly believe that once our products or solutions are consolidated in the domestic market, growth will be fueled by the development of the company beyond our borders. In recent years, our business figures in foreign markets have matched the numbers in the domestic market, granting us not only stability in a very turbulent years in Spain, but also significant growth rates.

What challenges and opportunities does the brand face in Spain and abroad?

The fundamental challenge remains the need to transmit effectively our values through our brand and to associate it with the new products and high technology solutions developed during the last years. There are already German, Korean and Peruvian customers who appreciate our brand, nevertheless we still have a long way to go in this regard. A huge challenge that we certainly tackle with the greatest illusion every day.

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CEO at EMEA & LatAm Interbrand, Gonzalo heads the regional corporate group, spearheading its growth agenda and supporting marketing and consulting efforts in the region. He has worked with reputable companies across all sectors: banking and financial services, telecommunications, the automotive industry, airlines, transport, fashion, luxury goods, FMCG, food & beverages and technology, among others.

Before joining Interbrand, Gonzalo was Managing Director at Futurebrand and Vice President and Managing Director at Green Team Advertising in New York.

How would you rate the level of development of branding in Spain? Do you think that the business world is sufficiently convinced of the strategic importance of brands?

For Spanish companies, brands have become a key element, in particular for projecting their image and reputation, as well as with regard to their relationship with stakeholders. It is important to recognise that, little by little, more importance is also being given to brands because of the way they are strategically defined. It can therefore be said that the level of development of branding in Spain is on the rise. Brands are no longer seen to be just a logo, but as an intangible asset that has become an element for forging links with clients. They provide a guarantee of quality for brands and products and create a link with the end consumer.

The business world is gradually getting used to the idea of the strategic role that brands play and the influence they have. The potential of brands has become tangible. However, in over half of all Spanish companies, there is only one person in charge of their corporate brands. There are no trained teams who manage them. It should also be mentioned that the steering committees of just 30% of companies attach importance to brands, when in truth, the commitment of these professionals to the brand is a factor in the success of brand strategy. This means that the path has yet to be laid. The biggest obstacle is precisely the lack of involvement by senior management when it comes to managing the brand of their company. Digitisation has changed the way consumers and the brand itself interact and so, now more than ever, it is vital for both CEOs and employees to be the best ambassadors for their brands.

If we analyse brand value rankings, including Interbrand, we can see that in recent times there are emerging brands that did not even exist a few years ago, while other brands are disappearing. This is especially true of Asian brands and those of new technologies. Do you think this trend will continue in the coming years?

As technology becomes part of every aspect of our lives, we are entering what we at Interbrand call The Age of You, the era of personalisation. Brands, as elements that link businesses with people, are becoming the nexus that leads to the creation of business and personal value. Data and technology have helped optimise our day-to-day experiences as brands such as Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon (GAFA as we say at Interbrand) have completely changed the definition of services and their connectivity. People now have greater access to many more options and as a result we have more demanding expectations of brands. We now expect brands to move at the same pace as people’s lives. Apple, for example, which is number one in the Best Global Brands for 2015 ranking, is at the top because, among other things, it has exponentially increased its environment and its focus on customers. That said, I’d like to mention that this year, for example, one of the brands that has entered the ranking for the first time is Lenovo. It is the second Chinese brand to appear on the list after Huawei in 2014. It can be seen that there is indeed a trend in Asian brands but above all we are talking about technology brands, and those at the top of the ranking are Apple, Google, Microsoft and IBM.

Speaking of trends. What do you consider to be essential for branding in the coming years?

In The Age of You, brands must be agile in order to respond immediately to consumers. If a brand is fragmented, it can result in disaster. The clarity of the message, behaviour, principles and how to communicate the brand must be fully integrated within the organisation and communicated to the strategic partners to help disseminate it. Complex approval processes have no future in the social and dynamic world in which we live. Things happen and move at such a speed that immediate answers are required. A strong organisational structure is the key to being agile and living up to consumers’ expectations. It’s like flying a plane where there are two sets of controls; both the consumer and the brand itself direct expectations and needs.

One of the great difficulties faced by branding professionals is that sometimes it is not possible to measure the work. How do you measure the value of a brand and its evolution when it comes to measuring intangibles?

It is important to mention that value is assigned through research and analysis and is assessed using a specific methodology. At Interbrand we have our own methodology which focuses on investment and on the management that is carried on the brand on a day-to-day basis as if it were another asset of the business. Interbrand was the first company in the world whose methodology achieved ISO 10668 certification, the international brand valuation standard.

This means that our methodology takes into account all the ways in which a brand influences a company, from attracting and retaining talent to providing the client with what they expect from the brand. The final value can thus be used to guide the brand’s management so that the decisions of different businesses are taken using much more information. There are three aspects that contribute to the valuation of a brand: the financial performance of the products and services offered by the brand; the role that the brand plays in the decision-making process; and the strength of the brand.

During the economic crisis we have seen that companies that stood behind their brand and behind the idea of differentiation have best withstood the ups and downs. In your opinion, what advantages does a strong brand offer a company?

Strong brands position themselves better than others during a crisis. The ones that perform the best are those that invest during hard times as they will emerge stronger when the recession is over. In times of crisis there are five key points to keep a brand strong and these include: communicating in a consistent and confident way; exceeding expectations when dealing with problems; being transparent and totally ethical; putting aside corporate policy to focus on the consumer; and using creativity and innovation for every single touchpoint. When something is unique, different, credible, relevant and engaging, a successful brand can be achieved. It is important to mention sustainability and standing the test of time. The great advantages enjoyed by companies with strong brands are authenticity, relevance, differentiation, consistency, understanding and presence. If you do not communicate, you will not be understood; if you are not understood, you will not be remembered; if you are not remembered, no one will buy what you are offering; if no one buys, you will disappear. That is why brands are so important and why it is vital to invest in them.

Cases of companies that invested in their brand during the crisis and emerged stronger because of that are: Movistar, which increased its brand value by 5%, as shown in the recently published Best Spanish Brands for 2015 ranking; and Apple, which continues to reinvent itself and anticipate the needs of its customers, was Number 1 in the Best Global Brands for 2015 ranking.

If you look at Spain, there are very few brands that can be considered to be truly global. Why do you think that is? Which brands do you think have the most potential to internationalise?

There are many international Spanish brands, but only a handful are truly global. In Europe, our main unresolved issue is to fully internationalise so that we are known outside of Europe.

The main characteristic of Spanish brands is the passion that Spaniards have and this is imbued in everything they do and make. The sectors that are most associated with Spain are those related to leisure and lifestyle, be it the food industry, tourism or fashion. It is true that the scant presence of Spanish brands abroad is noticeable and this is linked to poor promotion of their Spanish origin. What we do need to consider, however, it is that in general terms, Spanish brands are perceived as dynamic and constantly evolving, and as good value for money. We must bear in mind that Spanish brands are gradually beginning to be known thanks to the creation and development of new icons, sponsorships and celebrity/brand ambassadors.

Top, globally-known, Spanish brands today are Telefónica, Santander, Zara, Mapfre, Carbonell, Iberdrola, Real Madrid CF, Ferrovial, NH hotels, Prosegur, BBVA, Mango, Pronovias, Cola Cao, Repsol, FC Barcelona, ​​ACS and Freixenet. The most visible Spanish brands are those of mass consumption. Brands such as Zara (the leader abroad), Mango, Real Madrid CF and Iberia, among others. Strong Spanish brands always support the image of Spain abroad.

Some of the very interesting brands that will get people talking in the future more than they are right now are: BQ, in the technology sector; the personal brand of Kike Sarasola and his groundbreaking BMate and Room Mate projects; the toyshop Imaginarium; Natura Bissé in the cosmetics sector; and DO La Rioja and Vega Sicilia which are two of the most desirable and sought-after wines in the world.

What are the main challenges facing brands today?

Brands have to grasp the fact that today we live in a fragmented way; at Interbrand we have coined the term “micro moments”. It does not matter if a brand has a perfectly seamless ecosystem because the connection people have with the brand is created in a fragmented way. There is widespread confusion because players, products, brands and choices have multiplied, while the time available to consumers to make decisions has decreased sharply. Therefore, now more than ever, brands have to earn the right to be part of that group of brands that create experiences for each particular individual, what we call the “mecosystem” (literally, an ecosystem built around me, in other words, the individual). The goal is to be part of that “mecosystem” every minute of every day because individuals rate the brand as a whole with regard to every part of their experience (each micro moment). The most successful brands are those that are able to prioritise and build people-based experiences; they use technology to promote products and services in ways that integrate them into people’s daily lives, and listen to their needs in order to implement them. This is because today’s businesses and, as a consequence, brands, have to adapt to people’s pace of life.

The secret to success is to be consistent, to work on offering a 360º brand experience at every touchpoint as well as focusing on actions. Large companies are transforming and emerging from their comfort zones to reach out to customers in a more friendly way.

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Foto Juan Luis Manfredi

 

 

 

Juan Luis Manfredi Sánchez

Professor at the University of Castilla La Mancha

 

Corporate diplomacy is the instrumental development of strategy to guide relations between the public authorities and private organisations. It entails defending interests by using tools typically found in diplomacy. Companies become diplomatic entities, without detriment to other conventional activities used in international economic relations. Corporate diplomacy is the task of the chief executive to the extent that it requires an understanding of globalisation, the need to acquire new skills and competences, extend the network of influence and modernise management tools. The management staff of the 21st century have to increase their range of skills and competences. It is not enough to understand financial statements, it is also necessary to know how to speak and communicate with the various conventional and digital audiences, to have an understanding of multiculturalism, to learn how to manage in uncertainty, to welcome technological disruption and to have an enterprising spirit every day of the year. Good managers are those that are capable of leading, negotiating and communicating, these being tasks that are inherent in diplomacy. The future of corporate management lies in developing this kind of managerial intelligence, which is adapted to real rather than imaginary globalisation, and experiences its complexity.

Corporate diplomacy makes sense when we look at the four basic functions of diplomatic activity: representation, negotiation and the protection and promotion of interests. When transferred to the sphere of private organisations, we understand that diplomacy entails establishing relations with third parties (with the capacity to take action or make decisions) in order to resolve both one’s own and others’ problems, create common working frameworks and generate trust. It is indeed a question of transferring a function that was reserved for State policy to the area of business management. In the international arena, diplomatic activity has ceased to be the monopoly of states in the face of the rise of stellar mayors and cities, corporations, NGOs and networks of shareholders.

Representation is the first function. Until now, the role of chief business directors, whether CEOs or corporate capital representatives, focused almost exclusively on internal management, with small incursions into the institutional sector and public opinion. This traditional role is insufficient to tackle today’s problems, where the role of the most senior executive is a leadership one and is much more political and visible. It is no longer possible to drive the development of business objectives by granting an interview here and there or by giving an annual speech to the general assembly of shareholders. The bottom line now depends on more elements, and the reputation determined within the framework of public communication is of course one of these elements. In the whirlwind of ideas, our proposal has to be distinguished with arguments and accurate facts, not just with isolated actions.

negociaciónNegotiation is the capacity to reach agreements that can be sustained over time and that are capable of creating specific, solid competitive advantages. The diplomatic function hinges on the ability to engage in dialogue with the various stakeholders, who probably pose different problems and wishes. Here the role played by the human dimension is a key one: the ability to understand matters on a personal basis. The role played by the chief executive, the CEO, or whatever name is used in each organisation, is absolutely critical. It is not a question of being nice to everyone, but of having a specific personality that reflects the values of the company. Coherence makes it easier to ensure success than unfurling a host of communication activities that are not sincere. The personality of the chief executive is a diplomatic asset that varies depending on the nature of the company. In a family business, the chief executive promotes specific values, uses the weight of history as leverage, and sees continuity as being a powerful asset. Personalism is the order of the day. On the other hand, listed companies can change their profile and orientation much more easily, which gives them agility and speed. However, the new executive does not allow other assets to be captured such as tradition, history or ties with the region.

This element determines how relations are established and how resources are managed at any given time. Game theory has to be overcome, at least in its reductionist view of a zero sum game. Our experience tells us that personal strategies that advocate a result which accommodates the interests of all the parties perform better in the long run. Long-range vision will result in the good reputation of the company and its legitimacy to operate in the market. Sensu stricto, the imposition of wills only leads to sporadic victories, but not to the creation of value. I can draw a lesson from chess: the company’s overall position (regarding accounts and agreements) is more important than the last move made, which might have been a waiver or a bad tactical decision.

Corporate diplomacy is not a specific lobbying activity, and here I disagree with the ideas of Susan Strange (2000). The British scholar puts more weight on relations between companies and governments, an interpretation that omits some of the elements of current strategy. In their relations with governments, organisations aim to influence a country’s economic and industrial policy. A second modality might be the establishment of relations with other companies in the same sector in order to establish alliances, build coalitions, or undertake new projects. Strange links this activity to lobbying inasmuch as it points to exerting pressure on the legislator as a recurrent measure. Thus, it is possible to influence regulations in one way or another.

She is indeed right when she notes the need to know how to manage relations with regulators at their various levels of operation (local, national and international). Specifically, it entails finding out the needs of the legislator and of the environment affected, as well as how to interpret changing trends. On another level, it is necessary to find out how global unions influence labour decisions. Depending on the industry or the market, their ability to influence negotiations may be significant.

reuniónThis knowledge of the environment in which a company operates might be the only way of anticipating change. For this reason, in my opinion, it is not only a question of monitoring legal activity but also of taking preventive action to reduce risks and conflict with the public authorities. The monitoring activity is reactive and cedes leadership to third parties, resulting in an increase in uncertainty. Precise knowledge of the political and social evolution of the key authorities an organisation has to take into account when designing its strategy turns out to be more competitive. This is what managerial intelligence is all about.

Protection is materialised in two areas of the organisation. First and foremost, the people, who are the driving force behind internationalisation. The diplomatic experience needs to be used to weave a network of professionals that can combine the strategic decisions taken by the centre with their tactical application in each of the target markets. The network that manages to combine ambassadors, secretaries, attachés, youngsters and veterans. Each country requires a differentiated formula. Even more, protection involves exiting the country in the case of emergency, the ability to link up with the country’s police and defence services, and knowing how the intelligence services work. The second axis of protection is the global supply chain. No matter what the activity is: global production, distribution and consumption processes link up the geographic blocs of free trade. It is essential to protect the various situations in order to avoid being overwhelmed by a crisis, an emergency, a power outage, or a rise in sea level. This global vision of resources widens safety system requirements and orientates managerial intelligence towards the protection of what is irreplaceable: people and raw materials.

The promotion of the company’s interests has different dimensions. Globalisation has given new prominence to chief executives. Transparency, instant communication, social networks and new media have made companies and their executives influential players. The public arena demands that executives become leaders and adopt a decisive role in changing the environment, in new creative capitalism.

Corporate diplomacy is a function that is typically found in managerial innovation in the 21st century. A presence in the public arena, as well as the impact of the action taken in this area on the bottom line have given new meaning to the idea of collaboration and relationships with third parties. This constitutes a qualitative leap in the stakeholder theory, so popular in the 1990s. Following the publication of the book by R. E. Freeman “Strategic Management: A Stakeholder Approach” in 1984, many companies and analysts gained an understanding of externalities, the management of relations with third parties and the need to design a strategy that considers the consequences of our business decisions. Transformation gives more value to public opinion, which is so manifest in any decision. Anyone affected, equipped with their mobile phone and handheld camera, can provide an account of inappropriate behaviour. The public space of the company is more extensive and, of course, cannot be controlled exclusively by the business.

Negotiating with external agents, establishing strategic alliances in various parts of the world, manoeuvring via offensive or defensive coalitions and having the best available information on those aspects that are deemed to be key for decision-making is a real challenge when the market boundaries no longer merely coincide with the domestic market and a handful of other countries. The new global village multiplies exponentially the need for a constant stream of information, for a continuous presence and for management tools of proven effectiveness. At the same time, corporate transparency has become an essential aspect for operating in the market. There has been an increase in demand for corporate responsibility under various guises.
líder-empresarialThe profile of the business leader with the almost absolute power of yesteryear has evolved into the need for a new type of leadership that is much more focused on understanding, persuasiveness, and efficiency in seeking out potential agreements. In short, the whole range of characteristics that form part of managerial intelligence. Just as hard power has evolved towards new territories, the “imperial CEO” that prevails in the US market has ceased to be a benchmark. Empathy, the ability to listen and an understanding of diversity in globalisation are now required. This is what moving from management to leadership entails. Corporate diplomacy is therefore spawned to cover leadership needs in global organisations. Corporations are now aware of their greater autonomy from the public authorities and of the shortcomings of the latter in contributing to the swift and diligent resolution of their conflicts and crises in other markets, following the usual pattern of international diplomacy and, at the same time, of national diplomatic services. In the first place, those who contribute to the company’s reputation, perception and credibility by offering knowledge that coincides with reality and fluid dialogue are all the social agents concerned.

It is a very complex context. The corporate diplomat acts like an orchestra conductor searching for harmony. He or she is guided by managerial intelligence, not only by the bottom line or the earnings bubble for each quarter. This type of leadership favours a presidential style, the prominence of the entrepreneur that projects their personality, weaving a network of contacts at the service of the business and generating an atmosphere of trust. Senior management accompany decisions, but if the aim is for private diplomacy to be successful, it should have the backing and involvement of the chief executive.

To sum up, as far as corporate diplomacy is concerned, the executive becomes a kind of statesman, a person capable of uniting individual wills. In an open, competitive market, the leading entrepreneur plays another game – the one where they try to be better informed, have a better position and a better reputation. Corporate diplomacy can contribute to innovation in the management model and equip the board of directors with the tools required to make the leap to the global economy. 2016 may be a decisive year.

*Images designed by Freepik

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After preparing for civil service exams to become a judge, María Ángeles Moreno embarked on a career as a lawyer specialising in industrial property. In 1991 she joined Herrero & Asociados after working for Spain’s leading industrial property agent at the time. Ms Herrero runs the Department of Trademarks abroad, being in charge of the processing, management, surveillance and enforcement of trademarks worldwide, including EU trademarks and the special services provided to Latin America.

As experts on the matter, what role does the Herrero & Asociados brand play and how is it protected in your corporate strategy?

The brand has strategic value for Herrero & Asociados as it does for any other company that wants to stand out in the market. In our sector, the brand is of crucial importance; not only do we need to have a healthy portfolio of brands that enables us to provide our services with real peace of mind, but we also need to create a trademark every day through our good practices in those EU and Latin American jurisdictions where we have a presence, and also wherever our clients are located.

With regard to your presence in Latin America, what is your competitive advantage over other international firms?

Our competitive advantage lies in our profound knowledge of industrial and intellectual property all over Latin America, this being a product of the experience gleaned from more than 30 years providing specialist services to our clients.

This experience and knowledge of the needs of our clients and of many other companies led us to establish a presence in some of the countries in this region, starting with Mexico, then Brazil, and now Argentina.

Our offices in Latin America are not a carbon copy of the structure of our head office, as is the case with other firms. Our central office offers our clients centralised services that are complemented with a local touch from our offices and associates. We do not have fixed structures, but adapt to the specific needs of our clients in each of the countries as well as to local laws and practices.

We listen to our national and international clients; we understand their needs and endeavour to cover these and to even anticipate them. This is why our offices are a perfect reflection of the demand emanating from their requirements.

What are the main selection criteria for deciding what new markets to enter?

The search, penetration and consolidation of new markets has always been one of the biggest challenges facing Spanish companies in the global arena. International expansion at Herrero & Asociados was not only a challenge, but also a necessity if we were to respond to our clients’ needs.

At Herrero & Asociados we decided, nearly 10 years ago now, that we wanted to lead the way in industrial and intellectual property matters in Spanish and Portuguese-speaking markets and it is for this reason that we embarked on our expansion with an office in Portugal, later spreading from Spain and Portugal to Mexico and Brazil, countries where our clients required special attention.

Today we cannot be more convinced that our decision was the right one. In Mexico we have carved out a position for ourselves among the top ten submitters of patents and we have won the trust of huge international and even local clients that have seen Herrero & Asociados as a firm that responds to their needs, with the characteristics of a local firm but with the benefits to be derived from our international vocation.

If we add to this the fact that our offices, and not just the one in Mexico, provide a benchmark for local Trademarks and Patents offices, and our firm is recommended in major international legal directories, we cannot fail to be really satisfied with the decision to internationalise our company.

What are your biggest markets at the moment, and which are your future markets?

For us, Latin America is a market that is one of a kind. Maybe this has been one of the keys to our success and it is for this reason that our expansion is still focused on this huge market.

Looking at macroeconomic data, Mexico and Brazil are still our top priority, and Argentina is our new target. With the opening of this new office, we are also catering to the demands of our foreign clients who have been asking us to open this office for some time now.

For us, Latin America is a short and medium-term business objective in which we feel completely integrated and very comfortable – it was not in vain that we started to work on this area from the moment we founded our company.

What promotional strategy is the brand pursuing in international markets?

Our promotional strategy is very simple: we seek out the best professionals in each of the areas in which our clients demand our services so that we can give them attention of the utmost quality with an awareness of the economic situation worldwide. We have created the structures required to be in a position to provide this service at extremely competitive costs.

 What are the main challenges facing Herrero & Asociados at present?

  • The main challenges we are currently facing at Herrero & Asociados are clear: to continue innovating, creating new services for our clients and to fully protect intellectual and industrial property rights on a global scale.
  • To understand and adapt to new business models, getting involved in the affairs of our clients, remaining proactive and providing a personalised service to all clients.
  • To remain an international firm with just one business objective: to provide specialised legal advice at national and international level, with maximum quality, professionalism and exclusive dedication.

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On 3rd December 2015 the Leading Brands of Spain Forum (FMRE), together with the Office of the High Commissioner for the Spain Brand, organised a ceremony to publicly recognise the ‘Friends of the Spain Brand and Spanish Brands in Hong Kong’ at a gala dinner commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong.

The ceremony was attended by over 200 people, including prominent representatives from the business, diplomatic, academic and institutional sectors, in both Hong Kong and Spain, along with around twenty accredited journalists.

The event was chaired by the Spanish Government’s High Commissioner for the Spain Brand, Carlos Espinosa de los Monteros; the Spanish Consul in Hong Kong, Santiago Martínez Caro; the president of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, José Martino, and the managing director of the Leading Brands of Spain Forum, Miguel Otero.

Friends of the Spain Brand


Cathay Pacific

Amigo Marca Espana - Cathay Pacific

 

Airline that recently announced the opening of the first direct link between Hong Kong and Spain.

 

 

 

 

 


Hutchison Whampoa Limited

Amigo-Marca-Espana---Hutchison

A company that has made significant investments in Spain and particularly in the port of Barcelona.

 


 Hong Kong Arts Festival and its patron Stanley Ho (ex aequo)

Amigo-Marca-Espana---Arts-Festival-&-Dr.Stanley-Ho

These people have clearly focused on Spanish art and culture, affording it great prominence in Hong Kong year after year.

 

 


Peter Gordon

Amigo-Marca-Espana---Peter-GordonA highly renowned Hispanic scholar who has contributed to the dissemination and better understanding of Spanish culture in Hong Kong.


 

Wharf T&T

Amigo-Marca-Espana---Wharf-T&T

Hong Kong’s telecommunications giant, which has made a clear commitment over the past few years to the technology being developed by Spanish companies, thereby facilitating their expansion throughout Asia.

 


Friends of the Spain brand


Ctrip

Amigo-Marcas---Melia---CTRIP

Friend of the Meliá brand

For its support in gaining recognition for the brand among Asian tourists.


E.Bon Holding Limited

Friend of the Cosentino brand

Amigo-Marcas---E.BON---ConsentinoFor its key role in developing its brands on the Asian continent.


 

Terence Chan

Amigo-Marcas---Lladro---Terrence-Tam

Friend of the Lladró brand

For being a prestigious art collector who has supported the brand for years in Hong Kong.

 


Peter Riha

Friend of the Estrella Galicia brand

estrellaFor distributing its water and beer brands for many years, enabling the company to penetrate and expand in this market.

 


Watson’s Wine Wholesale

Amigo-Marcas---Freixenet---Watson's-Wine-Wholesale

Friend of the Freixenet brand

This is one of the main distributors of wine in Hong Kong and has played a key role in the growth of Freixenet in the region.

 


BON BON Paradise

Friend of the Alimentaria brand

FAmigo-Marcas---Alimentaria---Bon-Bon-Paradiseor its commitment to Spanish cuisine and its constant backing of this institution.

 

 


Thomas Wong

Friend of the Leading Brands of Spain Forum

Amigo-Marcas---Foro---Thomas-WongA highly renowned public figure in Hong Kong who has spent years building bridges between the two countries and who played a key role in getting this event to be staged in Hong Kong.

 


 

Rosary Hills

Friend of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong

Amigo-Marcas---Camara---RosaryhillOne of the institutions that has invested the most time enhancing the prestige of the Spain Brand in Hong Kong in its respective fields.

 

 

 

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