The sad state of U.S. business brands abroad

Four years ago the fine folks at Mobium put together an online survey to compare the perceptions of American business marketers with those of their overseas buyers concerning the image of U.S. business brands around the globe. Thanks to the help of our worldwide TAAN partners we were able to put together a comprehensive three-year study.

Can’t we all just get along?

More than 1,800 responses later (roughly 1,300 from U.S. marketers and 500 from business buyers of U.S. brands who work overseas) the results show that we can all agree on one thing.

The perception of American business brands has declined dramatically.

But the stunning thing about the results of the study is that despite that decline in U.S. brand image 96 percent of U.S. marketers believe that their companies will continue to do business with their current customers across the pond.

Denial isn’t just a river

Unfortunately, on the other side, almost 20 percent of overseas buyers say that they will switch from American brands to brands from other countries. One third of those changes were attributed directly to U.S. foreign policy prior to October 2008.

The full report and analysis is worth checking out.

Be sure to scroll down past the numbers to the verbatim quotes to get a sense for the depth of feelings on both sides.

Four ways to keep your brand from falling off the face of the earth

If you even remotely suspect that your brand might be in this situation there are a few things you might want to consider.

Don’t think that just because you have a b2b brand with strong personal relationships with foreign buyers that you are immune from this decline in U.S. brand perceptions around the world.

Check out the strength of those relationships through an objective third party. You may be surprised what foreign buyers say when someone else asks them about your brand relationship.

Listen to what your customers and prospects have to say. Take it to heart.

And then initiate actions that connect with them on their cultural terms. Not on yours.

But that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.