Nan Zhongxin, Professor for Economics and International Marketing at the Zhejiang University of Science and Technology, Hangzhou, China
How would you define a brand in your own words? What is a global brand to you?
A Brand is not only a name of a product or symbol of a company, but it also contains the culture of an enterprise which may associate with many things like ideals, belief, innovation, responsibility, and so on. A global brand should be a very famous name worldwide, with the specialties mentioned above. I think of Apple, Microsoft, BMW, Siemens, Sony and many more. They are successful and competitive in the world market. They are pioneer of the market and have influence on consumers across the national boundaries.
Do you think an athlete or a professional sports team can be a brand? If so, why do you think that is?
Yes, this can be the case. They can definitely turn into brands, because we are living in a world of commodities where everyone is influenced by commercial activities. It has been common place and one of the hallmarks of our global society and time that everything can be commercialized, including personalities and sports teams.
Who is coming to your mind when thinking about athletes/pro teams as global brands?
For me, Liu Xiang, a Chinese 110 meters hurdler, one of China's most commercially successful athletes. But there are other athletes on the global stage as well, Michael Jordan, Roger Federer and, of course, David Beckham who is probably the best example of a human brand.
Why do you think people like sports almost all over the world?
Life is continuous movement and therefore sport is some kind of nature of human beings. Besides, people likes ornamental sports like football and any game, which can bring them pleasure and even opportunities to play it themselves. Sport is not something that is intangible, it is right there for everybody. So on the one hand it appears to be a pure form of entertainment, on the other hand almost the same thing creates opportunities to participate in.
What distinguishes sports from other societal fields, like music, art, politics etc.?
This is not easy to explain. I believe what is unique about sports is the fact that sports are more dynamic, competitive, exciting, and devoted to the joys of
sense. Furthermore, sport is full of emotions, in an obvious way for the athletes and teams, but for the spectators as well.
Do you think a brand in general can be globally positioned without local and cultural adjustments? What would those adjustments be?
Yes, it may be done, but I am not sure about it. I see Coca-Cola as an example which did it in a perfect way. It is an American product associated with an American life style and American values. However, it is a brand influential worldwide without or maybe limited cultural adjustments. Maybe it is a commercial myth of marketing strategies.
How would you define culture?
A broad term like this is very difficult to define. As I learned there are about 120 definition of culture worldwide. For this, I would say culture is everything which can be the full range of a learned human behavior, including arts, beliefs, customs, inventions, language, technology and traditions.
To your mind are there different aspects or values of culture, and if so which are the ones that are sticking out?
Yes, different groups of people have their own aspects of culture which are transmitted from one generation to the next through different ways. Besides language, I think, belief and value reflect the different aspects of culture and form a tradition among a certain group of people.
What cultural aspects or values do you think are the most important ones regarding the field of sports?
From my Chinese background, I would say belief, value of life, moral, and education. Maybe this list is not complete like this, but to me these are the ones that are sticking out.
What are the major differences in the North American and the Asian (Chinese) culture?
The aspects of individualism and collectivism, the sense of family, moral and value, belief and relations of people seem to be the major differences. Furthermore there is a difference of how people behave within their family or a team, and of course how they interact with strangers.
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