Many companies in Bavaria that are active throughout Europe or the world face increased competition and an increasing number of imitation products. It is thus all the more important for these companies to strengthen their own brands. After all, only those companies that are perceived as a brand with character and an unmistakeable personality can remain competitive. This applies
to their presence in both the domestic and international markets.
Brands fascinate people, provide orientation, build up confidence, make it possible to charge higher prices, bind customers and employees and can considerably increase the value of a going concern. Brands are assets that require investment: they must be created, nurtured and preserved.
Good brand management begins with an analysis of the company, its competition, its markets, target groups, an examination of its “DNA”, or what make it “tick”, its future and – building on this – its position in the market that is different, credible, focused and relevant to all target groups. The idea that gives a brand its shape must then be creatively formulated in such a way that it appeals to people emotionally and cognitively. It should be communicated as broad and at the same time as selectively as possible – cross-channel, cross-disciplinary and cross-border, as people say in “marketing-speak” these days.
But it is not enough to invoke the motto “Made in Germany” and, in most cases, one’s Bavarian origins. But one can learn much from the brand “Bavaria”, even if this involves distinctive features.
Bavarians and the brand Bavaria. “They’re known all over the world, these Bavarians! They’re first in many fields, always in front, whether it’s football, the PISA test education ranking, keeping cows or traditions,” a “Prussian”, or non-Bavarian, journalist once wrote. Bavaria’s public authorities list its highest GDP, best educational dynamics and much more on their websites. Bavaria has many strong points and is also head and shoulders above the rest in marketing the state, even if it has no official state slogan. But as they say themselves, Bavaria doesn’t need one. With its many strong points it’s not easy to find a slogan or claim: a brief message that describes its genuine special features briefly and concisely so that its residents, consumers, economy and tourists feel called on to stay, invest or come here. The slogans of other states in Germany bear witness to these difficulties. Interchangeable, empty statements on the autobahns proclaim: “Welcome to a state that’s worth living in!” or announce your arrival in “State of the arts”. What does that mean? Or they claim it’s a state where you’re always one good idea ahead or where you can discover new perspectives? It’s not that easy to find and accept a good slogan such as that of the Swabians in Baden-Württemberg, who claim that they can do anything except speak High German. (The agency is said to have offered this slogan first to the state of Saxony in eastern Germany, but it was rejected.)
And yet Bavaria had a dream slogan, which sums up the enormous diversity and breadth of Bavaria’s strengths and which managed to focus on the catchy claim analogous to that of the mythical, so-called “egg-laying wool and milk-giving sow”: “Laptop and Lederhosen”, invented in 1998 by former German president Roman Herzog, who used it to express the successful symbiosis of tradition and high tech. It was consequently promoted perfectly by former state premier Edmund Stoiber, although not as an official slogan on signs or documents.
Admittedly, the laptop is no longer synonymous with state-of-the-art technology neither does it come from Bavaria. But innovation and high tech have a long tradition in Bavaria. “The chain of technical-scientific – and even artistic – innovation in Bavaria ranges from lithography through optics, electricity, the Deutsches Museum and aircraft engines,” wrote one C. Stolz in the newspaper “DIE ZEIT” over 10 years ago. And today Bavaria produces innovations from the fields of bio-engineering, bio-medicine, e-mobility and much more. Conversely, the Lederhose is not only synonymous with tradition. It is currently seeing a fulminant revival at Munich’s annual Oktoberfest. The Lederhose acquired an almost revolutionary role when it was promoted by members of the Wittelsbach dynasty in the first half of the 19th century by demonstratively donning the dress of the common people. This occurred almost at the same time as the coming of the railway, the equivalent of the laptop in those days. Like the new technologies, the Lederhose had the effect of giving Bavaria a sense of identity even in those days.
This brings us back to what goes to make up a good brand, a good slogan and good communication: brands lend trust and identity. To achieve this, they must be honest, credible and have a distinct image; as a form of communication they must ideally be brief, concise, memorable, unusual and remarkable. Its remarkability is all the more important the less familiar a brand is and the smaller its budget is. That goes for many of the “hidden champions”, those unknown leading international brands that are so numerous in Bavaria. The illustrations show a few examples of such companies which became powerful brands through creative communication and which are now internationally successful.
The author is the managing partner of the Wächter & Wächter Worldwide Partners GmbH agency group. She is responsible for creative company brand consulting. She is a member of the German Advertising Council, was formerly on the executive board of the GWA, the European & International Chairperson of Worldwide Partners Inc. and on the supervisory board of an IT company.